remakes

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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TRAILER REACTION: Brick Mansions

The trailer for Brick Mansions was released last week and it’s taken me this long to figure out how to get all my thoughts about it on the page.

Brick Mansions is the American remake of the French film Banlieue 13, or to give it the English title District 13. Now Balieue 13 is not only my favourite foreign film but it is one of my favourite films ever and will probably always be in my top 10. So all those years ago when I first heard they were going to do a remake I was annoyed but at the same time I like to be hopeful, thinking that it’ll bring more people to the original. The biggest plus that the American version had for it when I first heard about it was that David Belle was going to reprise his role – I did read somewhere that Luc Besson would only allow there to be a remake if Belle was in the American version (but now can’t find that information).

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Zorro Reborn – a more original reboot/remake?

I’m not a huge fan of reboots and remakes – although saying that I will probably end up seeing half the films that are remakes/reboots in the cinema. I think it does depend on how much I loved the original material.

The thing I don’t like about remakes is when it has exactly the same story, setting and characters as the original and doesn’t add anything new or different. When this happens I wonder what the point is – one might as well watch the original if the only difference is not so great picture quality and special effects.

But then there comes along a remake of Zorro. Obviously there have been many different incarnations of the masked hero but the one that I always think of (and love) is 1998’s The Mask of Zorro staring Antonia Banderas and Anthony Hopkins as the title character and Catherine Zeta-Jones as the love interest. I have seen the film many times since I was a child and will near enough always watch it whenever it’s on TV. The 2005 sequel is enjoyable enough but I haven’t watched it as much.

When I first heard that there was going to be a remake of Zorro I was a little put out as, like I’ve said, I enjoy the 1995 film so much. However! Looking at the test footage trailer of Zorro Reborn, it looks as if this reboot/remake is going to be different. It appears as if it has the same essence of Zorro – protecting the oppressed people and fighting against corruption but it is put in a very different setting.

It’s set in the future with a descendent of Don Diego de la Vega becoming Zorro – so there’s no need to worry about comparing the new actor with Anthony Hopkins. It is a new environment, there’s new bad guys and new characters.

Everything appears to be new and different but the essense of Zorro  – the Robin Hood type character – is still the same. I think that’s all that really matters in a film about Zorro, if you get the costume and his actions right then really the setting can be as different as you like. Get the character right and you really don’t have to worry about the rest.

This is a reboot/remake that I am looking forward to if Fox green lights the film.

YouTube Link

The premise has a meteorite crashing into Earth in the future that destroys much of California and Mexico leaving it as a desert. After the dust settles, that same meteorite is discovered to be a supreme source of energy, which a new hostile corporation assumes. People begin flocking to New San Diego for work only to find out they’re now being oppressed. It is then that Alejandro Fox, a descendant of Don Diego de la Vega, the original Zorro, emerges as the hero that will answer the people’s cry for justice. – Source.