28 May 2019

A New Fantastic Point Of View?

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Aladdin might be a cautionary tale of what happens when you wish for selfish things, but that doesn't mean that we don't then all spend the film wondering what we'd do if we found a genie. I'm quite happy with the size of my dick so I wouldn't wish for a bigger one. But I'd still like it to be more impressive so I think that my first wish would be for every other man on the planet's dick to be shrunk by a couple of inches. Kind of like how Goldfinger planned to irradiate the world's supply of gold with the exception of his own in an attempt to make his more valuable. Like that but with dicks. I'd obviously want more wishes after that but one of the rules is that you can't wish for any more than the three you're given. So I think that for my second wish I'd simply ask for the power of a genie myself. Just the power mind you. I wouldn't want to actually become a genie because my third wish would be for an Order 66 of the genies. A large-scale mass execution of magical beings in order to ensure that nobody was ever capable of challenging me or preventing me from exercising my own fucking will. Not that I'd do much after that I suppose. I'd probably just make chocolate healthy, create a second season of Joss Whedon's Firefly, and then Thanos snap about ninety-five per cent of our shit species away because most people are dickheads and I fucking hate them. I'd also wish for less of these pointless fucking live-action Disney remakes because at this point they are really starting to do my tits in now. 

This new live-action version of Aladdin begins with Will Smith on a boat and telling a story to his children. The story he's obviously telling them is the Aladdin story which we then watch unfold and in which said storyteller has Tarantino'd himself by indulgently casting himself in a key role. In his defence though, I suppose that there is more of a reason as to why Smith might be telling the story on the boat as one character whilst appearing in that story as the Genie at the same time than Tarantino ever has for cameo-fucking his own movies. I'm sure you can guess what that reason is too but without giving it away I think it's a shame that the Smith on the boat didn't just start his tale by saying, “now this is a story all about how my life got flip-turned upside down, blah, blah, blah, and something about someone becoming a prince”. From here, the rest of the movie basically retreads the ground of the original 1992 animated version with so little deviation from the set-path that you'd think that the script had been written by a fucking sat-nav. A street rat named Aladdin falls in love with a princess, he has a genie help her fall in love with him, and then he has to stop a bad guy from taking over the country, yadda, yadda, yadda. So much for a whole new fucking world, I guess. It's obviously pretty admirable that aside from Smith the film has opted to give some lesser known faces a big break. But as a result of some of the film's shoddiness, the effect of this is that it occasionally feels as though we're watching the live broadcast of a pantomime in fucking Blackpool. 

In case you're not from the UK then a pantomime is basically a bit of shit Christmas theatre in which a troupe of wannabe actors retell a popular fairytale but with a bit of audience interaction thrown in for good measure. So as an example the cast might say, “The live-action Aladdin film is really good isn't it?” To which the audience would all scream, “Oh no it isn't”. Or maybe Will Smith would ask, “Can anybody see my status as an actor of quality?” And the audience would knowingly respond, “It's behind you!” Not that I'm specifically blaming the unknown cast for this panto feel as when taken on their own terms they're not the worst thing about it. The guy playing Aladdin is basically upstaged by his own weird plastic Ken doll hair, but a lot of people have actually been praising the updated version of Jasmine as they claim she's now a lot more independent than she used to be. Although it's not like the original was particularly doe-eyed or subservient was she? And the extra song she gets here couldn't feel more like a token if it was handed out at an AA meeting to celebrate a dull dedication to sobriety. She was still good though, which is more than can be said for the bloke playing Jafar who was so lacking in charisma that he basically came across as an angry fucking hat stand. I can't even imagine how angry Ben Kingsley must have been when he found out that he wasn't just automatically cast in this role either. I honestly bet that he'd bought a fucking parrot and was on the bus over to the studio before he found out. 

The real problem with this adaption however is that like one of those joke plastic dog turds, it is both hollow and kind of cheap feeling. Also, it does look like shit. In fact, the sequence in which Genie sings the 'Prince Ali' song felt so cobbled together that it was as though it had been done on the fly for Comic Relief. From that point on I spent most of the film panicking that I didn't have any loose change simply because I assumed that Richard Curtis would be waiting outside the cinema door shaking a fucking bucket. Nor does it especially help that Smith clearly can't sing very well. Obviously, I'm not an expert on what makes a good singing voice but I'm pretty sure that it shouldn't sound so robotically autotuned that it's like listening to one of Daft Punk malfunctioning. At one point in the 'Prince Ali' song, Smith struggled to hit one of the high notes so badly that I assumed Robocop had unintentionally sat on a fucking butt-plug. The complete lack of anything new essentially robs this film of the original's magic with it always being clear that the actors are either on a set or in front of a fucking green screen. There's a moment in which Aladdin finds himself in a significantly colder environment near the end in which the compositing of the character in front of the snowy background was so bad that I thought he was going to launch into a weather report for a local fucking news station. Not that the background is the worst example of the film's visual effects here with Will Smith's big blue Genie looking like a big blue pile of wicky-wicky-wank. 

In many ways, the Genie, in general, is also one of the biggest problems of this new film in that Robin Williams' performance in the original was so groundbreaking, unique, and beloved that it could never be recreated. So what you have here is a film that's almost identical to the original in every single way except when it comes to the one thing that we all universally loved the most about it. It'd be like recreating Brad Pitt as a cybernetic sex robot that was almost identical to the real man except for his penis which had here been substituted with a rolling pin. Surely it now defeats the point of its own existence? Not that I particularly want a sex robot of Brad Pitt obviously, but it felt less sexist than saying a sex robot of Scarlett Johansson but with a dirty flower pot where her vagina should be. Overall too perhaps that's the best metaphor for the film because even with that dirty flower pot or rolling pin penis, it's not like any of us would turn down these cybernetic sex robots. I mean they're close enough to the original thing that you'd find stuff to still enjoy in there. I didn't dislike this new Aladdin because, as in the case with the sex robots, it's basically identical to the thing that it's a copy of. But can you imagine a world in which anybody would specifically ask for Brad Pitt with a rolling pin instead of a dick? Because I can't. And I can't imagine anybody ever asking to view this version of the film when they have access to the original instead. 

All of this is kind of a shame too because Guy Ritchie seemed like such an interesting choice of director for the project. I read an interview online in which he said that he chose to make this film so that his kids would be able to enjoy his work which is nice. It's a shame he didn't worry about our enjoyment of his work when he made fucking Revolver and Swept Away. You can see how this story might be suited to him too with most of his films being the story of a street rat going up against a more powerful villain. It's just a shame that he didn't go full Lock Stock on it and tell the story of how Ali One-Fez and Rub-A-Lamp Gene, try a bit of razzle-dazzle to impress top dog Jasmine the diamond bird. With the exception of a couple of uses of slow-motion too, Ritchie really dials his style down in here which is odd considering that his films tend to have quite a distinctive look to them. It's as though everybody involved has tried to make this adaptation as pointlessly identical to the original to highlight the complete lack of creative intent in favour of using a brand name to cash in on what Ritchie would no doubt call 'a fat stack of wonga, my son'. Not that this will make any of us any richer, financially or culturally, and so the only lesson we can really take from this is that no matter what the circumstance might be, it's never good to see a Big Willie turn blue. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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