Disney's latest live action remounting of an animated classic satisfies a base level of entertainment throughout, if never quite reaching the heights of spectacle and joy it seems to be aiming for.
In the ancient Middle Eastern city of Agrabah, the titular nimble street thief (played by Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud) dreams of a life beyond that he was born into. Sparks fly when he meets Princess Jasmine (Indian-English actor Naomi Scott), but Aladdin becomes caught up in a plot by Jafar (Tunisian-Dutch actor Marwan Kenzari), advisor to Jasmine's father the Sultan, to gain possession of a magic lamp.
Aladdin soon gets the lamp himself, from which he conjures an all-powerful genie (Will Smith), and attempts to use his powers to make himself a worthy suitor for the princess, who is only allowed to marry a prince.
The film mostly follows the path of the 1992 animated version, with the biggest changes centring on Princess Jasmine, who is now a bit more in control of her own destiny. Of the cast, Scott makes the largest impression, especially in her own musical numbers.
Massoud is a perfectly servicable Aladdin, charming enough while never quite jumping off the screen.
As with all his roles, Smith brings much of his own personal flavour to the manic genie character. His charisma carries the performance, but anyone who's seen the animated version won't be able to fully put aside Robin Williams' iconic riffing in the role.
Indeed, the most powerful moments here come from the nostalgia-driven emotions evoked by the iconic songs from the original, which isn't the best sign for a film trying to stand on its own two feet.
Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Will Smith
Colourful, lively and diverting, with some highly emotivce songs, but never escpaes the shadow of its inspiration.