A few days ago, Disney released the teaser trailer for the live-action remake of 2019’s Aladdin. Although the teaser trailer mostly displayed the grandeur of their CGI backgrounds, it hinted at some of the story with the overlay of a revamped “Friend Like Me”. In all honesty, it made me kind of excited.
I had always liked the original Aladdin. It was kind of like a blend of Vegas meets generic Middle East, but it worked surprisingly well. It was entertaining, aesthetically pleasing, and the songs were very good. Although it did have its flaws, I had to say overall it was an interesting film.
Usually, liking the original animated film in those ways is an automatic recipe for not liking a remake-especially when the Disney live-action remakes tend not to put that much effort into “retelling” the original. They do add some elements, but overall, the films haven’t been all that interesting or creative (especially not Beauty and the Beast, which I analyzed earlier).
But for some reason, I got genuinely excited about the live-action remake. And when I looked into who was the cast and who worked on the music, I got even more excited. I like to imagine that it’s because they are keeping the movie a musical, which means there’s going to be a whole new look to how they portray some of their most happening songs. What makes it even better is that they are still using Alan Menkel, the original composer, for these songs, even using him to compose a new song for Jasmine.
They kept the cast predominantly Middle Eastern, as well. The one fully white character is supposed to be a suitor for Jasmine, and was added to create a new dynamic of nation-politics. But other than that, everyone fits the bill for the location of Agrabba, which is a plus. Other movies have tried casting white actors for Middle Eastern roles, but increasingly they have been unsuccessful as they face public backlash. Disney played smart in casting, this time around.
I really can’t explain fully, however, why I want to see this new remake. I can’t explain why this one sparks my curiosity when none of the others have, and why I’m actually excited to see it. I can’t argue that it’s good old nostalgia, because if that were the case, I would have been excited to see the other remakes. But I wasn’t. Maybe it’s because this is the most fantastical one. There’s so much that happened in the original in terms of design and setup, that perhaps I’m curious about seeing how it can appear in a more solid form. I don’t know.