Will Smith

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: Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide-Squad-posterSecret government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) puts together a team of supervillains to take on a dangerous covert mission in exchange for shorter prison sentences.

Suicide Squad tries to juggle a lot. There’s a lot of characters so it begins with a bit of backstory for more of the major ones, namely Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) courtesy of Amanda Waller and a case file. The rest of them have less than a minute backstory and trying to set up all these characters this way did make the film slow to start. However, when you think the backstories are done and you can focus on the main plot of the movie, i.e. the mission, there’s flashbacks sporadically throughout the film that really interrupts the flow of the whole thing.

As well as the mission at hand, there’s also the Joker (Jared Leto) in the background, popping up every now and then to cause problems and provide more of a backstory for Harley Quinn. Much has been made of this new Joker and while he is naturally a lot different to previous incarnations, he is just OK. He is more of a gangster and his voice and laugh does sound odd and not necessarily in a good way but he is not on screen enough to really make much of a last impression.

The soundtrack to Suicide Squad is notable but not in a good way. It’s full of memorable songs ranging from Eminem to Queen and even features Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum – that one really doesn’t fit in the film. It’s as if the filmmakers wanted to have music queues for certain characters and just shoved in as many cool songs as they could think of. It was jarring and didn’t work for a lot of the film.

Suicide Squad is an entertaining film for the most part but it’s not as fun as the trailers make it out to be. Also while you don’t need jokes in every superhero film, any attempt at humour in Suicide Squad fell flat. Lines of dialogue or moments that were clearly set up to cause a reaction from the audience just don’t. These characters are an eclectic bunch and with a good script they could easily have bounced off each other and had some humorous moments or lines but there was nothing.

The big problem with Suicide Squad is by the end of the film, it wants you to feel like these characters all care about each other and even go as far to see themselves as a family unit, but it doesn’t do enough to make you feel that way. The film keeps focusing on the mission rather than the characters on the mission. Deadshot and Harley Quinn are the most fleshed out on the team and they actually have multiple interactions so you can see their relationship grow but all other characters are secondary and barely have any lines between them.

Suicide Squad is OK. The action sequences are entertaining but the film does nothing to make you care about these characters and that’s where it really falls down. 2/5.