By: Agent Bunnie & Agent Afronaut
Agent Bunnie remembers seeing her first ever movie in theaters and it just so happens it was the original "Aladdin" animated feature by Disney! Jasmine became the "childhood princess" for her and Bunnie grew up collecting toys and dressing up as the iconic Arabian princess. So, when the live action version of Aladdin was announced by Disney, there was quite a bit of excitement here at Afronauts.
However, before Aladdin rolled out, Disney gave us live action versions of "Alice In Wonderland", "Sleeping Beauty" in the form of "Maleficent", "Cinderella", "The Junglebook", "Beauty and the Beast", and "Dumbo". The world has had plenty of opportunities to see Disney's vision of animation come to life and with the exception of Maleficent, these re-telling of the classic animations has Afronauts wondering: What is Disney's point in this trend? Besides trying to make money, obviously. Maleficent sticks out to us, because it's a movie that was quite different from the original Sleeping Beauty animation and is told from a completely different viewpoint; that of the villain. The rest of the movies, while little tweaks were made, it's primarily the same story that we've already taken in and there are some things that animation just simply does better than live action. In the live action Cinderella they had a ballroom dance scene with Cinderella and the Prince, but it definitely didn't capture the magic and serenity of the original animation and the same can be said for the ballroom scene in Beauty and the Beast or the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland.
WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! DO NOT CONTINUE ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS!
With that said, we went into the theater to see Aladdin hoping for more then what Disney has given us previously with these live action movies. We can sum up our thoughts with: It's a good movie, but it's not great. Aladdin live action is still a re-telling of the animation, but it is nicely modified in its live action form. The musical scenes are not overly done and kept to a minimum, so as viewers we didn't feel overwhelmed or that feeling that it's not believable. The audience gets to see Jasmine as not just strong like in the animation, but also educated and smart. We even get more of the Genie character by Will Smith, as they seemed to have let him be more of a person than just Aladdin's sidekick in this version. Yet, when all is said and done, we left happy, but not overjoyed. Nothing new or innovative was given to us, and it was enough just for us to say- "At least they didn't ruin the story."
Disney will be releasing the live action Lion King and Maleficent later this year, and Mulan is set to be released in 2020 (if it doesn't get pushed back again). They also have 13 other titles in production set to come to theaters over the next handful of years; all of the live action films will be based on popular animations. We here at Afronauts hope they continue the Maleficent route with these films and would love to see less popular animated films get a re-do in live action, because if they're going to continue this trend they should be adding to the stories or making them better, and so far we're just seeing the same and it comes off very mediocre.
Overall Aladdin is a fun journey into one of our childhood classical storylands and in a Summer that isn't offering much other than sequels outside of Marvel's "Spiderman: Far From Home", it is worth seeing. Aladdin is still in theaters and doing well. It's set to be Will Smith's highest ever grossing film. It's a good movie for all ages and Will Smith will make you laugh, but don't go hoping for something better than the original.
Image used is for reference only and taken from Disney. Afronauts makes no claims to the creation or ownership.
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Afronauts is a collective dedicated to bringing exposure to and understanding of Indigenous Futurism in all its forms.