Guy Ritchie

REVIEW: Aladdin (2019)

When kind-hearted street urchin Aladdin (Mena Massoud) discovers a magic lamp, he befriends the Genie (Will Smith) inside and gets the chance to make a better life for himself and impress the Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). But the Sultan’s trusted yet power-hungry adviser Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) will do anything to get his hands on the lamp.

There seems to be a live-action remake of Disney’s classic animated features every few months and the trend doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon. While it’s hard to forget about the original animated Disney film when watching or reviewing the new version, I will try to keep the comparisons to the minimum and judge this version of Aladdin on its own merit. Really, with all the Disney remakes heading our way, I think that’s the best way consume these films.

Guy Ritchie is an unusual choice of director for a Disney musical when he’s best known for the Sherlock Holmes films and stylised action films. Some of the musical numbers lack energy with the camera moving a lot in amongst all the characters dancing, instead having a lot of wide shots. You can see exactly what’s happening, but it’s the songs rather than the action on screen that pulls you in.

That being said, when Jasmine gets to shine with new song “Speechless” the simple camera movements allow you to really feel the emotion behind Scott’s performance. Jasmine is a well-rounded character as even though her father has kept her sheltered in the palace for years, she’s keen to learn about her people and be a good ruler. She’s headstrong and confident and Scott is brilliant as Jasmine.

The whole cast are pretty great. Massoud is a charming Aladdin and has chemistry with both Scott and Smith making those trio of characters and their relationships feel so real. Will Smith is good as the Gennie and he’s very funny at times, but he never tries to imitate what Robin Williams did in the animation.

Aladdin is a lot of fun. The cast are charming, and the final act is thrilling. Aladdin is the best kind of remake, it follows the same plot beats, but adds some new moments and gives some characters more to do, making it its own thing. There’s magic and spectacle and fights and romance and, almost surprisingly, it all works. 4/5.

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REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

sM6KRdyCIA’s finest Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is forced to team up with the KGB’s best Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to stop a mysterious terrorist organisation who are attempting to build and sell a nuclear weapon.

The plot is relatively simple, infiltrate the bad guys and stop them, but that doesn’t stop there being some twists along the way – it’s also full of spy film cliches but it does them so well I can’t really complain. The simple plot might not work for some people but by having a simple spy plot, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. can revel in its action pieces. Being set in the 1960’s it’s all very glamourous, the costumes and the set design are beautiful (the music is also great) and by being in the 1960’s it allowed to be more tongue in cheek and fun compared to other spy films.

The action scenes are great, the boat chase, the opening sequence with the car chase, the shoot outs all are very slick and stylish and the use of split screens as the action is happening is both a refreshing take on the action and makes it more fun and interesting.

The chemistry between Cavill and Hammer is what really sells these two characters and their antagonistic relationship that slowly becomes something like a grudging respect. Cavil is great as the thief turned spy, full of charm but is also rather cocky while Hammer is full of controlled rage that isn’t always so controlled. The bounce off each other wonderfully and also with Gabby (Alicia Vikander) the asset Solo and Kuryakin use to make contact with the terrorists. Gabby is really a part of the main trio and is just as smart and capable as the two men.

The supporting cast is great too, Victoria (Elizabeth Debicki) is the mastermind of the villainous organisation and is quite happy to use her beauty to get what she wants and to dupe men into thinking they know more than they do. Waverly (Hugh Grant) is kind of smarmy and the sort of guy who knows everything – or at least pretends to.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a lot of fun but the main enjoyment comes from the chemistry between the three leads. For once I’ll say, I really would quite like a sequel. 4/5.