The long awaited Aladdin movie came out this Friday, May 24th and I was able to watch it in theaters on opening day. Overall, the movie was entertaining and I recommend it to my readers. However, I would like to share my thoughts and feelings which many people might agree with and movie goers might not realize. Although the movie was entertaining, there were parts I was disappointed with. Disney still has a long way to go when it comes to including a wider audience and hopefully they will address our concerns for future movies.
I want to talk about each character and explain what I liked and disliked. First, Aladdin. I absolutely loved the scenes of Aladdin in the market place. I felt like I was there with him and experiencing the busy alleys and culture. The scene of him running away from the store keepers guards was very upscale and glamorous and exceeded my expectations. Although, I have to say I wish the camera work of Aladdin during his running and jumping scenes was better. The camera was shaking way too much and I couldn’t even make out what I was seeing on the screen. This took away from my experience and instead of running away with Aladdin, I was back in my chair in the theater. Apart from that, I think Mena Massoud had an extremely strong stage presence throughout the movie, which I was not expecting from an actor I’ve never heard of before. I also really liked his outfits throughout the movie. They were lavish and represented the culture very well. I was happy with the outcome of the Aladdin character.
Next, Will Smith’s character, Genie. I thought Will Smith as Genie was a nice touch to the movie. Even though he does not have an Eastern Asian background, he did not feel out of place at all. He added his personal touch to the movie and I enjoyed his scenes very much. He had good attitude and made the movie comical. The one thing have to point out is that his introduction was a bit off. They made him seem like a scary character and if I thought that, I can only imagine what was going through little childrens’ minds. I honestly thought he was more scary than Jafar in that scene, which should not be the case. If they toned his introduction down a little I think he would have been a more likable character in the beginning.
Finally, the review of Princess Jasmine. Naomi Scott is a beautiful actress and I was happy to relive the Lemonade Mouth days a little. I was expecting so much from Princess Jasmine since she is the princess I looked up to as a child. The scene of her standing up to Jafar and her song embodied great feminism which was a great addition to the movie. Her acting was done very well, as I could see the pain and frustration in her eyes. It was definitely a strong scene. However, a huge part of the character is her outfits. I was extremely disappointed with Princess Jasmine’s wardrobe. The costume designer could have done so much and really gone all out with her dresses but instead they were all very cheap looking and there was no variety at all. In reality, there are so many different styles in Eastern Asian clothing for the different cultures that exist, however all of her dresses were the same and only the colors varied from scene to scene. I was really looking forward to seeing her own the stage, but I was just disappointed in her presence.
Not only is Aladdin just a Disney movie, but a representation and epitome of Eastern Asian culture that all those children will identify with. It is also an introduction of Eastern Asian culture to many children and adults in America. What I was really shocked about in this movie was the pronunciation. None of the cast pronounced the word “Sultan” correctly, which really made me mad. It is such a powerful word that held a lot of significance to Princess Jasmine’s message. It’s baffling that no one pronounced this right and it made me cringe every time it was said. People who come from Eastern Asian decent and who are representing locals did not pronounce the word correctly. To introduce a culture in a wrong way is such a horrible thing to do. Disney should not include other cultures in their movies if they can’t do it correctly. I know it may not seem like a big deal to many of you because it’s “just a word,” however this is just a small example of whitewashing in Disney movies.
Aladdin does include the large scale Bollywood scenes I was hoping for. The scene of “Prince Ali” entering the palace was extremely lavish and included many people in different costumes with a spirited entrance. The movie also includes a dancing scene which was nice (and funny) to watch. Overall, the movie was entertaining and I would watch it again. However, I was hoping it would be something I was proud of and something that would spread culture awareness to America. I can’t say it fulfilled what Eastern Asian Americans were looking for and it definitely is not a movie I would say I identify with, but just another Disney movie to add to the list. I would love to hear what you guys thought of the movie and whether you agree or disagree with anything I said. Leave your thoughts in the comment section!
Disclaimer: I am not a movie critic by any means. I am only sharing my thoughts on the movie.