Tag Archives: Disney

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

I never thought that Maleficent cried out for a sequel. The first one seemed to wrap up the story rather neatly: Maleficient, thought largely to be a villain, was actually just a fairy with a dark past, a magnificent wardrobe, a broken heart, and a slight hairpin temper. Inside, she was rather like a pussy cat. More or less. But all-knowing Disney thought there was more money to be made more story to be told, so it milked an old fairy tale for more malevolence.

When we left Maleficent (Angelina Jolie), it was generally understood that she wasn’t so terrible after all. Really kind of sweet, and fiercely protective of the little girl she’d raised as her own. Years later, it seems that message never penetrated the minds of the villagers down below who still fear her. Aurora (formerly Sleeping Beauty) (played in this series by Elle Fanning) has been prancing about barefoot in the forest as Queen of the Moors, home to all kinds of fairies and mythical creatures. Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson) has continued to sniff about and likes the flower crown in her hair and her whole boho-chic vibe. He proposes and she accepts, and they’re pretty much the only two who are happy about it. Maleficent is mostly just concerned because she knows she won’t exactly be welcomed by “his kind.” And maybe she’s also a little sad to lose her precious goddaughter. His mother, Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer), makes it clear they’re on shaky ground with her as well. You can imagine how awkward the engagement dinner’s going to be. Or, no you can’t, because it’s next-level awkward. I won’t say it’s the reason that humans and fairies go to war with each other but it’s not not the reason, if you know what I mean. So if you thought planning your wedding with your in-laws was fraught, imagine the tension when both mothers are intent on destroying each other. I mean, the seating chart alone is going be bizarrely complicated when you need opposing armies at the same table.

Anyway, Sean thought Mistress of Evil was “not great” and overlong. And at 20 minutes longer than its predecessor, it’s hard to argue that point. It does take way too long to establish certain facts. But I thought the movie was “not that bad” (is she quoting herself there? Indeed she is). I enjoyed meeting all of the little woodland creatures, especially more of Maleficent’s ilk, including the lovely Chiwetel Ejiofor. But mostly I was there for Maleficent. Poor, dark, misunderstood Maleficent. Yes her black eyeliner is intimidating and her horns are slightly reminiscent of a Beelzebub type. That does’t mean she has a heart of darkness! Don’t judge a book by its brooding black cover. Not even when that book falls from a top shelf and caves in your skull. Err. Well maybe then. Anyway, I love Maleficent because I love Jolie in the role. She’s menacing and conflicted and vulnerable and powerful and it’s terrific to see her don the wings and the cheekbones again.

Does Maleficent: Mistress of Evil justify its existence? Not remotely. Jolie and Pfeiffer make an electric pair and it’s sort of wonderful to see two such formidable women square off so maybe that’s enough. And if it’s not enough, the incredible costumes by Ellen Mirojnick will more than make up the difference.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

I was babysitting my nephews this weekend, and after dinner we got a big bucket of popcorn, drinks in spill-proof containers, and crawled into bed to watch some “scary” Halloween movies together. Brady is newly 8 and Jack is 5 and two thirds so I didn’t want anything that was inappropriately scary, but I wanted to give them a taste of Halloween and who better than Tim Burton to do just that. We watched Frankenweenie, a favourite of mine, and Jack now has some very pervasive ideas about reanimating dead pets with electricity. I suggested to him that this was something that might only work in movies, but no, he assured me, this was not so. Apologies to my sister’s dog, whose corpse may suffer any range of indignities.

Interestingly, The Nightmare Before Christmas didn’t go over quite as well. It wasn’t too scary for them, but it was perhaps too boring. The fault is perhaps mine: they watched it fairly attentively until Herbie The Wonder Dog came up for a cuddle, and then they discovered some of the tricks he was willing to do in order to earn popcorn treats. So that did pull them away from the movie a bit. They were also taken by surprise by its ending – not the content of it, but the timing. And though I hadn’t remembered it being rather short, it is – only 76 minutes, and that’s counting credits. So we may have to try again next year to really give it a fair shake because this movie is quite beloved and dare I say almost cult-worthy…although, is that just among adults?

Jack Skellington (“Is he made of sticks?” Jack asked, and I didn’t exactly want to say bones, so I called him a skeleton and that seemed to appease him) is the pumpkin king, a resident of Halloween Town, where every year they put on a lavish but repetitive display of ghoulish horror. Jack Skellington is bored. So when he finds a clearing in the forest with portals to other holiday towns (and don’t you wish we’d gotten even a glimpse of some of the others?) you bet he opens up the most alluring and steps into the wonder of Christmas Town.

Now, very likely there are residents of Christmas Town who are every bit as bored of doing the same old thing every year as old Jack Skellington is, but we don’t hear from them. Instead we watch Jack’s eyes go round as he is mesmerized by all the merriment. When he eventually returns home, he conscripts Halloween Town’s citizens to put on their own Christmas…but a bunch of ghosts and monsters don’t quite pull off the winter wonderland of Jack’s vision. And the ways in which they get it wrong are quite endearing. Until they kidnap Santa Claus (Sandy Claws, as they mishear the title) and Jack steps into the role clad in trim red velvet suit. (“I’d punch him right in the nose,” says little Jack, quite perturbed by the Santa imposter).

Tim Burton has said that it was a shopping mall that sparked the idea for the film – watching as the Halloween merch gets taken down the day after the holiday and immediately replaced with Christmas stuff (of course, that was back in the 90s when we still had a modicum of decency…today both holidays exist commercially in tandem, as early as August).

Our kids may not have been big fans of the film, at least not yet, but there’s something about it that appeals to many others. Matt, Sean and I are headed to Disney World in a few weeks and we’ll witness Magic Kingdom go from Mickey’s Not So Spooky Halloween to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas, literally overnight. And the great thing is: Jack and Sally, rarely seen in the parks otherwise, make special appearances over this holiday time. Disney Land’s Haunted Mansion gets a Nightmare before Christmas makeover, and you can purchase specially themed ears to match, and treats too of course, because Disney is a master at getting you to part with your money.

Maleficent

As a young fairy, Maleficent is like any other girl, wings and horns notwithstanding. She likes adventure and good stories, and a little mischievious boy named Stefan with whom she shares a first kiss. But as they grow older, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) must protect her land from an evil king and Stefan (Sharto Copley) has taken off in pursuit of ambition and power. On his deathbed, the king calls on his trusted inner circle, including Stefan, to kill Maleficent to earn his crown. Stefan seeks her out to warn her,ostensibly, but it plays out a lot more like betrayal. Woe her broken heart.

King Stefan is crowned and soon there is a child: a girl. Maleficent is furious, and her fury is a glorious sight: green light, crumbling walls, the world bends to rage and damn I wish my anger could manifest itself like that. Meanwhile, the kingdom is celebrating the birth of little Aurora but Maleficent crashes the party, putting a curse on the little sleeping babe. Unfortunately, she learns too late that this child, this sleeping beauty if you will, is perhaps the one person who could have united the land that Maleficent holds so dear.

Disney has learned to pay heed to their villains lately, as well they should. They are often more interesting than the so-called heroes, and in Aurora’s case, this is 137000% true. Sleeping Beauty is as passive a princess as they come since she’s doomed to spend her own movie either in hiding, or deep in sleep. Maleficient, on the other hand, is dripping with vengeance, steeped in power. It’s magnificent.

The Disney World parks, however, still default to the princesses. On our upcoming visit to Disney World, we’ll visit Aurora at Queen Elsa’s castle. Last time we met her in Cinderella’s. Lucky for us, we caught her between naps.

Halloween, however, is the one time of the year Disney embraces its dark side. Only around Halloween can villains be spotted at meet and greets in the park. They even get their own merch and treats – check out this Maleficient look-alike ice cream cone, available at StoryBook Treats. Her dragon breathes fire at parade goers. Halloween seems like an exceptional time to visit Disney World for some value-added extra fun and fright, but alas, Disney rips down its Halloween decorations on the night of November 1st and by the 2nd, the park is transformed for Christmas, which means we’ll get an awfully early start on the holiday.

Anyway, the Maleficent film tells the villain’s unknown side of the story, and it shows that she is perhaps not as evil as we’ve been led to believe. Disney is an unreliable narrator, y’all.

Keep your eyes peeled: two of Jolie’s children, Pax and Zahara Jolie-Pitt, have cameos in the film. Daughter Vivienne played the baby Aurora, and was the only child on set who was frightened of her while in costume. Her Maleficent cackle was developed at home, with her children as barometers, voting on which was just right. Jolie confesses she kept a pair of horns for herself, though presumably not the ones so heavy she’d get neck pains even after very short scenes. She had a hand in developing Maleficent’s look – Disney wanted to capitalize on her beauty of course, but Jolie insisted on Maleficent’s more devious look, drawing inspiration from Lady Gaga. Even so, it was Lana Del Rey she hand-picked to sing Once Upon a Dream for the end credits. The movie has the biggest budget for a first-time director, but Robert Stromberg had an excellent pedigree, with two Oscars under his belt for production design on Alice in Wonderland, and Avatar, which understandable earned him substantial credit with the Disney team.

Angelina is wonderful in the film and this first one performed so well that a sequel is expected in theatres October 18th.

Disney Princess Yearbook

Disney has recently announced that Halle Bailey will play Ariel aka The Little Mermaid in its live-action remake, because that’s apparently a carousel we cannot get off of. I don’t really know who she is, but director Rob Marhsall assures me that she “possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance — plus a glorious singing voice.” She sounds like a slam dunk. Of course, the internet had immediate thoughts based solely on the colour of her skin.

MUST Ariel be a pale-skinned redhead. Of course not. Just to be clear: Ariel is a mermaid, which is a thing that does not actually exist, and therefore cannot have an inherently ‘right’ race or hair colour. She’s made up! Disney animators based her appearance on Alyssa Milano, who is not a redhead, and they drew her flowing underwater hair based on Sally Ride in space, and she’s not a redhead either. In fact, the only reason Disney made Ariel a redhead at all was to distinguish her from Daryl Hannah in Splash. That’s it. That’s the whole reason. It was a frivolous choice, one that can easily be changed with absolutely zero consequence. I’m more perturbed by the rumours of Melissa McCarthy playing Ursula – and no, not because she isn’t purple, though I do hope the infinite wisdom of the collective internet sees fit to protest that as well. Ursula was based on Divine, a drag queen who did indeed live up to her name, and wouldn’t it be nice to keep up that tradition?

Anyway, Disney princesses skew heavily to white bread and wouldn’t it be nice to add some colour to the lineup? Still, Disney doesn’t take any risks with its bottom line. They’re not going to throw us a token POC bone, even if it is the right thing to do. They’re going to cast the absolute perfect person for the role because Disney wants to get paid. And if they’ve cast Bailey, it’s because she’s the best.

And now for the rest:

Best Hair

Rapunzel has 70 feet of hair; at 100000 strands per head, her hair weighs over 10 pounds!
Pixar developped a software program specifically to animate Merida’s hair.

Cutest Couple

Aladdin throws an apple to Jasmine several times throughout the movie, including when they fly over Greece on the magic carpet ride. In ancient Greece, throwing an apple to a woman is considered a marriage proposal.

Although Vanelloppe and Ralph are not a romantic couple, they are BFFs, as evidenced by their necklace.

Best Dressed

Belle’s blue dress and white apron combo were inspired by Dorothy, in Wizard of Oz. She’s the only villager to wear blue. Gaston, the villain, wears red – as does the Beast when she first meets him (his cape). But as he softens he wears purple, and finally blue and gold, which reflects both of her dresses.

According to art and fashion historians, Cinderella’s dress that the stepsister tear apart is thought to be inspired by the designs of Salvador Dalí and the magical gown is in the then contemporary style of Christian Dior.

Most Badass:

Sean goes with Fa Mulan, a strong choice since Mulan was the first animated Disney film to deal with warfare. Her fight choreography was done by real-life martial artists Mimi Chan and George Kee. Mulan has (by far) the highest body count of any Disney hero – or villain.

Jay’s pick is not exactly Disney princess canon, but we think Gamora qualifies, and she’s definitely a badass – the deadliest woman in the galaxy, in fact.

Most Ambitious

Sean’s pick, Ariel, wants legs and love – possibly in that order. Princess Leia on the other hand wants to save the galaxy. Again. She wants peace, and she wants hope. But then again, she already has legs.

Coolest Sidekick

This one might be too close to call. Sean’s pick, Mulan, has a tiny dragon named Mushu (voiced by Eddie Murphy!) while Jasmine has a motherfucking pet tiger, bitches!

Best Car

Sean goes with Cinderella’s pumpkin coach – sure Fairy Godmother pimped her ride, but it’s still got an expiry date. Jasmine, however, is riding in style on a SENTIENT magic carpet.

Biggest Flirt

Sean goes with Cinderella yet again, and yes, ho is hustling. You might even say she’s gold digging. But Snow White’s in bed with 7 men!

Class Clown

Sean goes with Tangled’s Rapunzel, while I went with Frozen’s Anna, who just has big goofball energy.

Life of the Party

Sean knows he can’t go wrong with Merida from Brave. Her clan seems to celebrate in style. I went with Elsa since she has plenty of what every good party needs most: ice!

Most Likely to become president

Snow White clearly has the constituents but I think Moana’s got the political ambition.

Most likely to get catfished

100%, in ever sense of the word.

Most accident prone

I concede that even with 16 years notice, Aurora manages to snag her finger on that damned spindle, but Merida accidentally turned her mother into a bear. This might be the saddest contest yet.

Most opinionated

Interestingly, I think Sean and I are after the same thing here: Moana holds her own against Maui, while Gamora never lets Starlord get a word in.

Most upbeat

Upon reflection, none of the princesses are as carefree as you’d think. Cinderella is overworked, Jasmine’s trying to avoid an arranged marriage to an older man with unfortunate facial hair, Belle is a kidnap victim, Pocahontas is being colonized, Mulan has been conscripted…it’s not all tea and crumpets. Sean and I both chose Snow White, perhaps for her ability to sing under any circumstances.

Most likely to make millions

Sean went with Jasmine, who, granted, does come from oil money. Probably. But Tiana has the makings of a celebrity chef. Or she could franchise!

Most likely to star in her own reality show

Truthfully, most of these princesses could probably be on 16 & Pregnant about 5 minutes after their movies end, but aside from that, Sean goes with Mulan, and I’m not sure why. I went with Rapunzel because she’s thirsty enough to be a desperate housewife.

Most likely to be famous on instagram

Sean’s choice, Cinderella, is definite Insta-worthy. She’d be a big hit on the gram: she’s got the dresses, the cute pets, and those step-sisters could certainly teach her a good duck face. But I think Ariel’s got too much hipster potential.

Brainiest

 

The Nutcracker And The Four Realms

You’d think I’d have more of an affinity for this, as I once played Clara myself, in a school production. But I suppose any kinship I felt with the role died when I saw film-Clara flopping around in one sumptuous, gauzy, beaded gown after another, while I spent the whole play in a floor-length flannel nightgown.

Clara (Mackenzie Foy) has recently lost her mother, Marie. She is further aggrieved to find that the “one last Christmas gift” her mother has left each of the children is for her rather useless without a key to open it. Her godfather (Morgan Freeman) would seem to hold the answer, but just as she finds the key at his home, it is squirreled away (or perhaps I should say moused away) into a parallel world – into which of course she follows, without a second thought to the state of her beautiful dress, which she clearly doesn’t deserve.

Anyway, this other world is apparently one of her mother’s making, imaginatively speaking. There are four realms, and she meets 3 of the 4 regents right off the bat: Shiver (Richard E. Grant) of the Land of Snowflakes, Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez) of the Land of Flowers, and of course the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) of the Land of Sweets. These three regents worship Clara as the daughter of their beloved Queen Marie, and wail upon learning news of her death. They confess that the Queen has not been around in sometime, and these 3 realms are at war with the fourth: Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) of the Land of Amusements.

Sugar Plum (Keira Knightley, using a grating Mickey Mouse voice and sporting drag queen eyebrows for unknown reasons) explains that they can use Marie’s machine, which turns toys into people, to win the war, but they need the key. Yes, the very same key that Clara is already hunting, the key stolen by the legion of mice and now in the possession of evil Mother Ginger. Clara must retrieve the key with only the help of a kind nutcracker named Philip (Jayden Fowara-Knight).

The Nutcracker is of course famously a ballet, and there is but a single scant scene of dance, starring the ephemeral Misty Copeland, which is probably the best stuff in the movie. The rest is really nothing special. It’s almost as if, the more they inflate it with CGI effects, the more magic leaks out. It’s drained of the life and wonder you may have come to expect from The Nutcracker. This one is clunky – often quite mesmerizing to look at, but the directors are depending on literal hypnotic focus on the visuals since the story, which diverges wildly from cannon, just doesn’t hold up. It’s almost amazing how unexciting a land of imagination can be made to feel, and I wouldn’t mind if co-directors Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston both had their directors cards revoked for such a failure. It’s toys come to life: the wonder is baked right in!

The Nutcracker has been around since 1892 and now accounts for 40% of a typical ballet company’s annual revenues. It’s been done to death in both movies and television: Barbie did a version. The Care Bears did a version. Mickey and Minnie did a version. Tom and Jerry did a version. And they were ALL more successful that this one, which cost over $120M to make, but you can’t put a price on heart, and this movie just didn’t have it.

Toy Story 4

Toy Story movies have always been darker than people give them credit for. In the first film, Buzz believes himself to be a hero stranded in a hostile environment. Turns out, he’s just a toy – everything he thought was real is a lie. He exists to be someone’s plaything, and Woody and the gang convince him that there’s dignity and even nobility in this fate, even if it strikes you and I as a kind of slavery, to exist merely at someone else’s whim, until you’re all used up, and then you’re disposed of. What a dizzying and disorienting concept; it’s no wonder Buzz literally gets depressed when he learns his true nature. In the second film, Woody literally contemplates his own mortality. His benevolent master Andy will one day tire of him, and worthless, he’ll be discarded. His friend Jessie really hammers this home with a heart-wrenching flashback of being abandoned at the side of a road by someone who once claimed to love her. Ultimately, Woody chooses to live as a toy rather than achieving a sort of immortality as a collector’s item; he’ll have a short but meaningful life rather than a long but insignificant one. What a choice. In the third film, Woody and the gang face the consequence of this choice: Andy goes off to college, and eventual abandonment becomes actual abandonment. Not only that, but the best friends are being separated, with Woody being doomed to spend his twilight years alone on Andy’s shelf, no longer a useful, loved plaything, but a mere relic of his past. Meanwhile, his friends are going to molder up in the dark oblivion of an attic. What cold comfort. Luckily, the toys are instead given to a little girl named Bonnie to live out a happy afterlife. Cue the fourth film.

Woody (Tom Hanks) and pals are having a grand old time being played with by Bonnie. Sure, the little girl prefers cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack) over cowboy Woody just a tad, but still, it’s a good life, no complaints. Bonnie is starting kindergarten soon, and at an orientation session, she shows some initiative (fancy term for not following instructions) and makes herself a toy out of trash rather than a pencil cup out of art supplies. She brings her cherished new friend home and gives him a place of honour among toys. “Forky” is no more than a spork, some googly eyes, a pipe cleaner, and a broken popsicle stick, but he’s Bonnie’s new best friend, so Woody vows to keep them together at all costs. That’s going to be a problematic promise because a) Bonnie’s family is embarking on an RV roadtrip and b) Forky has some suicidal tendencies. Forky was never supposed to be a toy, you see. He’s trash. He knows he’s trash. Rather simple-minded and fairly spooked, all he wants more than anything in the world is to be trash once again, which is where he keeps launching himself. Woody keeps dutifully fishing him out, but one of these times he’s bound to get thrown out for good. It’s on one such rescue mission that Woody encounters an antique store where he thinks he may find an old friend/lost toy/love interest, Bo Peep (Annie Potts). We haven’t seen Bo Peep since the second movie, which was 20 years ago. Where has she been this whole time?

Bo’s been living free and wild as a toy with no owner. That’s essentially Woody’s worst nightmare but she makes it sound rather grand. Besides, Woody has a new worst nightmare: another antique store occupant, vintage doll Gabby Gabby wants his voicebox and she’s prepared to rip the stuffing out of his chest to get it. Yikes!

Structurallly, this fourth installment plays out a lot like those that came before it. There’s always some kind of separation, and then some kind of secondary rescue mission when the first one fails. These toys sure do get themselves into some high-stakes situations on an alarming basis!

It’s wonderful to see the cast of old friends: Bo looks shinier than ever, and Jessie’s hair has never looked yarnier. The animation on these films started out innovative and has only improved. And new friends are a hoot and a half: Forky (Tony Hale) is a walking, talking existential crisis, but the rendering of his pipe cleaner is photo realistic. Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) was a dollie defective right out of the box, and her resulting failure to bond has really warped her. Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) is a Canadian daredevil who never lived up to his promise; he is haunted by his past, and by the kid who resoundingly rejected him. Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key) and Bunny (Jordan Peele) are two brightly-coloured stuffed animals attached at the hands. They’ve been unredeemed carnival prizes for far too long, and are a little unhinged. Officer Giggle McDimples, Giggs for short (Ally Maki), may look precious and pocket-sized, but she’s a force to be reckoned with, and fiercely protective of her road warrior partner, Bo Peep. All these new toys will come together in surprising ways to give our pal Woody one last big adventure.

Coming full circle with the original film in the franchise which was released 24 years ago, Toy Story 4 has Woody once again paired with a toy who does not believe himself to be a toy. Woody’s experiences with Andy, and now with Bonnie, position him to a real advocate for finding and fulfilling one’s purpose and embracing one’s destiny. Heartwarming and heartbreaking in almost equal measure (I cried twice before the opening credits were over, and then alllllll the way home), Toy Story 4 more than justifies its existence. But after the perfect send-off in #3, is #4 a necessary or worthy addition? As much as I looked forward to connecting with these characters again, I surprise myself by saying no. Toy Story 4 is a good movie, an entertaining one, a very sweet one, but I can’t help but wish they’d left it at a trilogy so that we could have one perfect, shiny thing in our lives.

Aladdin (2019)

Maybe it’s just time we admit that no remake, perhaps especially a live-action remake, will live up to the extremely high bar set by the animated films of our youth. Not only were these movies straight out of Disney’s renaissance, they are coated in the glittery gold of nostalgia, elevated by the place they had in our lives at the time, rendered flawless and important in our cherished memories. It’s an impossible standard, is what I’m saying. That said, Aladdin is probably among the better ones.

As you know, Aladdin isn’t really about Aladdin. Oh sure, it’s ostensibly about a boy wooing and trying to be worthy of a princess. And about a greedy man who’ll stop at nothing to gain power. But really it’s about a genie trapped in a lamp, longing to be free. Robin Williams 110% stole the first movie. His ad-libbed sessions in the recording studio had Disney re-writing the script to accommodate all of his beautiful material. These were agl0580.pcomp_publicity.v02.1039_grd004.000000.0immense blue shoes to fill, so in a way, I admire the impulse to steer the ship in a different direction, as Will Smith IS a different direction – though not as different as I’d imagined. He makes the character his own, for better or worse, but the fact that this film is such a close remake means inevitably you’ll be comparing movies and this one will be coming up short. It can’t quite recapture the magic, especially when we know every word and anticipate every action. And Will Smith’s Genie is a dull cousin of Williams’. This is not entirely Smith’s fault – who among us could compete with the limitless freedom of a cartoon? Animated Genie is just that – animated. At all freaking times. Will Smith can’t even touch the manic energy of the original, and frankly, his songs leave a little to be desired. I’d heard that his remake of Friend Like Me would be largely hip-hop inspired, but I heard wrong. But it may have been the wiser choice; if you’re going to fail by comparison, then do something to distinguish yourself. The 2019 version is fairly faithful to the original – it has all the basics but none of the colour.

Well, I don’t meant that literally. In fact, that’s one of the things I liked best about the movie: the absolute riot of colour. Jewel tones abound! The colours of spice fill up the screen, sometimes metaphorically but sometimes quite literally. Jasmine’s costumes are the stuff little girls’ dreams are made of. In animation, it’s too expensive to have different outfits for characters, so they mostly wear just on the one thing, a cartoon uniform if you will. And Jasmine’s is no joke. But in the live-action remake, costumers have given themselves permission to create a wardrobe befitting a princess. It’s a feast for the eyes.

I mentioned before that the 2019 film is fairly faithful to the original and that’s true – but there are a few exceptions, and I’m glad that Jasmine is one of them. In the 1992 feature, Jasmine is a passive character. Yes, she’s 15, but she’s very much a damsel in distress. That’s not quite the character the writers meant to portray, but several scenes in which she was to exercise her voice were cut because they were simply too expensive to animate. That decision saved production budget but cost Jasmine something in character. In 2019, she’s a fuller version of herself. Of course, that’s partially because you’ll find her singing a song you don’t recognize (called Speechless – it’s Disney’s bid at an Oscar this year, as only original, written-for-this-movie songs qualify).

Speaking of which: Jasmine and Aladdin. I hereby give you permission to get your Aladdin thirst on. I mean, maybe you’ve always had a certain lustful feeling toward the MV5BZTc3NTA1YmEtZTkyNy00ZDMyLWJkMmItODFkYjU0MTc2N2I0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDQxNjcxNQ@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1233,1000_AL_street rat with the not little nipple-less bod. Now he’s played by the very attractive Mena Massoud, who conveys all of his boyishness and charm. Jasmine, meanwhile, is portrayed by  the lovely Naomi Scott. Since cartoon Jasmine is 80% doe eyes, you might think she’d be difficult to replace. In fact, Scott is everything you could ever want in a Jasmine, now with 50% more agency. And unlike Will Smith’s renditions, everything Scott and Massoud sing sounds like the soundtrack of your childhood. You’ll find it difficult not to sing along. Why resist, really? Someone has to be the crazy lady in each and every movie theatre, and it may as well be you.

Director Guy Ritchie brings an energy to the film that’s quite unexpected. I mean, he’s made a career putting hustlers on the big screen, and who is Aladdin if not that? And those were Sean’s favourite scenes: Aladdin deftly avoiding arrest in the streets of Agrabah, streets he knows well, like the back of his hand. He  navigates those in the slight elevation above reality – quick, slick, agile. My favourite scenes, however, were the colourful spectacles I didn’t know Ritchie was capable of. Will Smith’s Genie introduces Prince Ali to Agrabah with fanfare that’s nothing short of visually stunning. It’s choreographed to within an inch of its life, with a rainbow of costumes and a riot of feathers and dancing girls and exotic animals.

Aladdin is a lot of fun if you let it be. It is not the Aladdin of your childhood, but there’s enough room for both of them. Now go be the crazy lady in your local cinema.