Disney still has an uphill climb to overcome skepticism with their live-action Aladdin remake, but the new trailer does alleviate some fears. Directed by Guy Ritchie, the redo of the 1992 classic has raised eyebrows since its announcement, and every piece of news since then has done little to overcome the cynicism from audiences and critics alike, from questions over casting to concerns over cultural sensitivity to genuine confusion as to how Ritchie of all directors landed this gig.
Put plainly, Aladdin feels like Disney’s biggest risk of 2019. The original is a very cartoonish film that is at its strongest when it breaks the fourth wall and becomes an excuse for a Robin Williams improv session. At the time, it was ground-breaking for Disney, a much more sardonic and comedy focused story than their most iconic efforts. Given that Disney’s business model for their live-action remakes is focused more on strengthening the brand than wildly re-imagining the story, Aladdin had always felt like an ill fit for this formula. How do you recreate such a deliberately stylized and zany story in a vaguely realist manner, especially when you have to take the cultural and historical issues into consideration?
The marketing thus far hasn't done much to alleviate these concerns. The first reveal of Will Smith as the Genie had him strikingly unblue, while a proper look in a sneak peek TV spot became instant meme fodder. A teaser trailer released back in October didn't offer much either, with the film following the tried and tested formula of Disney live-action remakes simply transferring the cartoon into live-action.
Thankfully, Disney just released the full-length Aladdin trailer, just over two months before the film is set to premiere and, overall, it’s a much stronger look. It may not dismiss all of the cynicism surrounding the film, but it does offer up a much more intriguing genre mishmash approach that has proven intriguing to many. Granted, the bar was set very low for this film, but it will still be a relief for Disney that it has managed to clear that.
- This Page: The Aladdin Trailer Puts Focus On The Right Things
- Page 2: How The Aladdin Trailer Fixes Previous Issues
Aladdin's Songs Finally Make an Appearance (& They're Good)
It still remains somewhat baffling that Disney did not decide to put the songs of Aladdin front and center. After all, Alan Menken’s music is what everyone was waiting for. When it finally gets its opportunity to shine in the new Aladdin trailer, though, it does exactly what it needs to do and sets off those nostalgia alarms that Disney are so skilled at appealing to.
Will Smith gets a proper chance – maybe the first one since this project was announced – to remind the world why he’s so beloved when he belts "A Friend Like Me" for a few seconds. But the real highlight comes with "A Whole New World", which remains one of Disney’s most iconic musical numbers and seems to get its due in this trailer, albeit briefly. It still would have greatly benefitted the studio to remind audiences of these songs and how much they’re loved, but given how odd the early marketing has been, to the point where some fans wondered if this would be a non-musical adaptation, for Disney it’s definitely a case of better late than never.
Guy Ritchie Finally Gets To Be Guy Ritchie
Guy Ritchie was always an ill fit for this sort of project. He’s a director with a distinct visual style who works best in the gaps between extreme stylized images and gritty realism. While he’s done some of his best work directing pre-established properties like Sherlock Holmes and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., he’s not necessarily the director you call upon to helm a recognizable family-friendly property from the vaults of The Walt Disney Company. Disney themselves have been notably keen to avoid auteurs when making these live-action remakes, preferring to stick with sturdy studio friendly figures who are flexible within the often smothering confines of this level of protected branding.
Related: The Disney Remake Problem
Ritchie has also previously struggled under the restrictions of Hollywood blockbuster film-making. His last movie, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, was a project torn between two styles. Half of the time, it was A Guy Ritchie Movie, and for the other half, it was desperately trying to follow a superhero origin structure akin to Iron Man in the hopes of kicking off a franchise that never happened. That’s one of the reasons his hiring for Aladdin felt so curious: How would he do what he does best when sticking to a very strict studio mandate?
The new Aladdin trailer at least gives Ritchie a chance to be Ritchie, if only for a brief beat. He knows how to stage and shoot an action scene and the trailer’s opening, with Aladdin chased through the streets of Agrabah is a strong reminder of that at a moment when we need it most. A vibrant setting with frenetic action gives the trailer some real life. For a moment you can understand why anyone would think Ritchie would be perfect for this job. It remains to be seen if he gets to keep that up for the remainder of the movie, of course.
Page 2 of 2: How The Aladdin Trailer Fixes Previous Issues
- Aladdin (2019) release date: May 24, 2019