Aladdin (2019) Review

Many of my relatives and friends know that I’m a 30 year old woman with the mind of a ten year old Disney and Fantasy fanatic, and that when a new Disney movie hits the theatres I must see it. So when I heard that Aladdin was coming to a theatre near me, I started making plans to attend the movie last Wednesday.

As a little girl, I dreamt of owning a tiger named Radja, having a cheeky monkey sit on my shoulder and walking through a garden filled with Flamingo’s. I was plenty excited to go to the Kinepolis Ladies Night, a special screening for Disney princesses. We were welcomed by Aladdin and Jasmine and were given a glass of cava. Since this isn’t a food review blog, I’m not going to overanalyze the booze but it wasn’t fantastic and reminded me of sparkling water.

There were different stands where were “female-oriented”, ranging from gin to the worlds’ most famous brand of plastic boxes of all sizes. Finally, the door to the wonderous world of the movie theatre was opened and we found our seats. Shortly after, a group of belly dancers dancer their way to the front of the stage to give an entertaining show. I learned afterwards that they weren’t coming from an exotic Eastern country, but came from my very own home town!

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The movie itself

After an award ceremony that seemed to drag on forever, the movie started about half an hour later than scheduled. Because of all the waiting we were more than ready to start our journey to the wonderful world of Agrabah – which was a stunning sight to see. The movie was so intense that the smells of spices and the sparks of crossed swords nearly reached us in our places. Aladdin was played by Egyptian Canadian actor Mena Messoud, who did a great job. He ran and jumped across roofs and buildings as if he were a professional freerunner, and the Arabic accent really added to the movie experience.

Genie Will Smith was also playing the role of a lifetime. There wasn’t a moment or scene with him in it that was boring. Especially the Harvest Dance was amazing!

Princess Jasmine, played by Naomi Scott, made the women in the theatre dream about what it would be like to be in her position: she was wearing gorgeous dresses. On the other hand, there was her song “Speechless”, which was a breath taking moment. The powerful message that a women shouldn’t be silenced certainly made an impoact.

And then there’s Jafar. In the cartoons he was pictured as a strange, skinny man. Now he was played by Dutch actor Marwan Kenzari. Great casting! His dark brown eyes freightened many a women, and in the last ten minutes he was a scary bad guy which made you question whether this version of the movie would end differently from the original.

We thoroughly enjoyed the movie and left the theatre with a big smile on our faces. Upon leaving the theatre, we were given a goodie bag which contained a water caraff.

Aladdin with the kids

What do you do when you’ve seen the movie, but you’ve got two mini-me’s who are also eager to see the movie? Well, then you head to the movie complex to see it again, in Dutch. The movie was played in on of the smaller movie theatres, but the kids didn’t care. They chose to sit in the last row which was a first for them.

In the twenty minutes we had to wait for the movie to start, some children decided to turn the theatre in a play garden by monkeying around in front of the big screen. Some parents really need to develop a sense of responsibility and need to understand that those things cost a lot of money. Once the poorly orchested money business was over, we headed to Agrabah (again).

Watching the Dutch version, my first response was “What have they done?!” My little girls enjoyed the movie, but to me the voice casting felt way off after having seen the original. Arabic accents were replaced by the standard, Vanilla Dutch accent of a Flemish ginger with the exotic factor of a rotten apple that’s fallen from the tree in your garden. Will Smith’s jokes fell flat in the Dutch version and the song Speechless was far less impressive in it’s Dutch version.

They also replaced Jafar. Jafar, who was played by a Dutch actor. Instead of going for the original actor,they casted another vanilla Flemish voice actor to replace him.

Despite all my personal annoyances, my mini-me’s loved the movie, although Daughter 1 preferred the English versions of the songs to the Dutch versions.

All-in all, the movie was still great but it missed some of the charm of the original, a problem which many Disney “translations” have in favor of reaching the younger audience. If your kids are capable of reading subtitles, I’d highly suggest you go and see the original version instead.

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