Movie Review: Gemini Man (2019)

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Summary: An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself.
Minor spoilers ahead…
Pros:
The cast. Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong are all good for the most part. There are times where it seems like no one cares what’s going on or about the story, but I think because they’re all interesting and good actors, the lame acting is overlooked. Will Smith is always fun to watch, he’s funny when he needs to be, and since he plays two characters, he gets to be a little brash, impulsive as Junior and he gets some emotional moments. As Henry, he’s “over the hill” but still very competent at his job, he’s pretty cool, as Will Smith’s characters generally are, and he gets some humor in there too. I’ve always liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead, she’s fine in her role, I think she might have been a little miscast but she’s fine. Benedict Wong serves his role well, he’s the “wingman” type and he’s funny when we need him to be.
Pretty Good Action. This pertains to the quick fight scene in the boathouse with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and some thug. It was brutal, she got her butt kicked but she also kicked butt too. I wish the action in the rest of the movie was more like that. The action sequence at the end was pretty good too, with Will and Mary having to face down a ton of shooters. They both were badass in that sequence. Not to mention, the fight between Will, young Will and the ninja lol. Those two moments were the only times I felt any stakes.
So Much Potential. This movie has so much potential it physically hurts me. I wasn’t holding out for a good movie when I saw the trailer, but I thought it could be interesting. I investigated it, and this movie has a long history of trying to be made. It was supposed to come out in 1997 with an original script back then with a ton of well-known actors attached to the role: Harrison Ford, Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, Chris O’Donnell, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Jon Voight, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Gerard Butler, Nick Nolte, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Sean Connery. I wonder what exactly happened and if all these actors were attached or in talks or something. But the idea of this man being the best at his job to the point where he’s unknowingly cloned so his skills never die is cool, but I think if this movie would have explored the interactions with Henry and Junior more, or if they went a different route with the story.
Cons:
Really Bad CGI. Every time after young Will’s first appearance was too much. It was very uncanny valley and it wasn’t good. It’s clear it was motion capture CGI and it wasn’t good CGI. I could not suspend my belief that Will Smith had a 23-year-old clone because it was so bad. Particularly when he talked. It was the mouth area a lot of the time and even with his eyes, it was very robotic. I would have believed it more if it was a cyborg copy instead of an organic clone. There is a scene at the end, when Will Smith, MEW and young Will is walking together and it’s clear, there are two real people and then a photoshopped CGI young Will Smith. It was bad. Really bad. The entire movie, whenever young Will came on screen, I could not take it. When he yelled at Clive Owen, his mouth… you have to see it to believe it. They should have just cast Jaden Smith as Junior or something and have it be like his “son” or something lol.
Also, the chase scene at the beginning with the motorcycles also had bad CGI. There is a shot where Will Smith is riding the motorcycle, and the camera is directly in front of him and its clearly green screen lol. I also don’t know if it was just me or not, but some characters also looked like they put some CGI on them or did some photoshop in trying to smooth out their faces. Mary Elizabeth Winstead looked a little weird sometimes and Clive Owen, though it might just be him not aging well, but he looked like playdough lol.
Lackluster action. In our first chase scene with old Will and young Will, the only thing I could think while watching was that they needed to take lessons from Tom Cruise because the choreography for the fighting wasn’t that great. First, there were times where I thought Will Smith looked funny with that big gun he carried during that scene. I think I laughed a few times. I know he can pull it off because he’s done it in other movies. Then when he was on that motorcycle, whenever it was a frontal shot of him riding, it was clearly CGI. It was just bad. Then later, old and young Will are fighting in a crypt and MEW is watching them, and it was an okay fight. It was hard to see at times, but she had plenty of chances to shoot young Will in the shoulder or in a spot that wouldn’t kill him. I don’t care if old Will is saying don’t shoot him, he’s kicking your butt. I’m shooting him. She waited till the last minute. Lame.
Weak Story/Cheesy Dialogue/Feels Dated. The writing wasn’t good. I think three people worked on the screenplay and I think it shows. I want to know what the original script was like back in 1997 because the story is weak, the dialogue is cheesy, and the movie feels old. It feels like it was made during that time of outrageous 90s action movies and it didn’t age well. There’s a part where Henry is telling Dani about stuff Clay did to him while he was being trained and even Will Smith couldn’t make me believe in that dialogue. Not to mention, the weird banter Henry and Dani had throughout the movie. It was so awkward! I don’t know if they were trying to be clever or funny, I don’t know but I wanted to physically cringe.
Emotional Stakes. I think because the story was weak it prevented us from really being invested in any of these characters. We’re supposed to care and like Henry, Dani and then sympathize with Junior and while it’s not impossible for any of this, it’s just not that interesting. Clearly, Henry ends up caring for Dani, but I never thought she was in any real danger. Then later, that first moment when Henry and Junior have this intense moment in the crypt, it’s supposed to be intense and I was like meh. Plus, the dialogue was so bad! Then later Junior and Clay have this “emotional” conversation but between the bad CGI, the bad dialogue and Clive Owen looking so disinterested, I felt nothing. I think this movie could have had a lot of emotional moments, especially with Henry/Junior and Junior/Clay but it didn’t work for me.
Overall, I really didn’t like this movie. I came to terms with it as I continued writing this review. I don’t think it’s good. Sure, the acting is okay for the most part and there are some minor positives in the action and the potential but the bad outweighs the good so much that I can’t even. The CGI is overall bad, and I’ve seen plenty of actors de-aged in movies, but this was bad. ALADDIN DID A BETTER CGI WILL SMITH. The action was lackluster, the movie feels dated, the dialogue was cheesy, and the story was so weak that when it was over, I completely forgot what I just watched. All I could think about was the bad CGI Will Smith face. The emotional stakes did not land and as a side note, I thought there were a ton of weird “technical” issues like some odd transitional choices, like that scene where Dani and Will are talking, then they both look to the side, music starts to play, and we get a transition to them on an airplane. It was so weird! I’ve seen that kind of transition work before, but it did not work here! Plus, all the random shots of the actors being close to the camera while they’re talking to another person… this movie is ugly. There you go, it’s ugly lol. Gah! That’s all, I’m done lol. If you like Will Smith and you want to see all his movies, then sure, check it out but at least wait till it’s streaming or something. Oh, this movie has a higher frame rate… that’s probably why I didn’t like how it looked lol. Look it up. lol.
Rating: 1.9 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Gemini Man? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!
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My Thoughts: Aladdin (2019) Sequel

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So, anyone who has talked to me in the last two months or so knows I have been obsessed with this movie since I saw it when it came out. I’ve seen it five times. The last time being on Father’s Day with my parents and youngest sisters. I know there has been negative commentary about it and that’s fine, I don’t care, I think it’s crazy, but I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

There are mild spoilers ahead so if you haven’t seen the movie yet then I would exercise caution in reading this piece. You can read my Movie Review: Aladdin.

Anyway, the film ends with a great open ending in terms of the story. Yes, Aladdin and Jasmine marry, and Genie and Dalia go off and have kids which is beautiful.

Side Note: I have to say, I thought the romance between Genie and Dalia was cute, innocent and pure. I’ve seen people (mostly on Tumblr) say that it’s a “forced relationship” among other words and I completely disagree. I thought Genie and Dalia were sweet and awkward and Will Smith and Nasim Pedrad had nice chemistry. I mean, why shouldn’t Jasmine’s best friend and Aladdin’s best friend have some interest in each other? Neither one of them gets out that much and plus, the way that Aladdin and Jasmine supports the romance between Dalia and Genie is super cute.

Idea 1: Return of Jafar

It’s been a while since I’ve seen Return of Jafar, it’s the lesser of the two sequels I think, but it would make for a great live action sequel. At the end of this Aladdin (and in the animation) they get Jafar to turn himself into a Genie and he gets trapped in a lamp. Our Genie tosses him back into the Cave of Wonders. Now here is where things would pick up. It’s been a year since they defeated him. Aladdin and Jasmine are married, she is Sultana and doing a bang-up job at it and Aladdin is at her side as King, or Sultan or whatever his title would be. But I would imagine he’s a little restless considering his life of movement before.

But, I don’t necessarily want to follow the exact plot of the animated film. But somehow Jafar needs to be freed from the lamp. In the animated film, a different kind of thief comes across the lamp after Iago somehow manages to get himself and the lamp out of the cave and leaves the lamp in a well after being sick of Jafar’s bossiness. Now, I’ve never really liked Iago like that so he doesn’t have to have such a large role that he has in the animated sequel, but unless the Cave of Wonders resets itself every time someone failed to get inside or someone failed to get the lamp, or even that the Cave’s purpose is over since the lamp was already taken then it could just be a pile of rubble and our Genie’s magic never actually made it through whatever rubble the cave is in now, which would allow for some thief to get it, it was Abis Mal in the animated, we can keep him I guess but make him more competent. That was a run-on sentence, I know. OR, since it’s Jafar’s lamp now and he’s a terrible person, perhaps the Cave’s magic doesn’t work the same since this Genie is a massive jerk?

But regardless, I want to see Jafar get his revenge and I want to see him win for longer than a few hours. He threatened Aladdin before he got sucked into the lamp, so I would imagine he would be pissed and go after the princess who thwarted and defied him and the street thief who made him look like a fool. BRING IT ON. I might just write this sequel lol.

Idea 2: King of Thieves

So, obviously we need to explore Aladdin’s history, his parents and all that. In the movie he says he lost both of his parents when he was young, but I don’t think he ever said how. Perhaps his mother died but he’s not sure what happened to his father, so he just assumes he’s dead… WHICH HE ISN’T!! He’s the King of Thieves… Cassim, hot dad lol. Choose a brown actor and make sure he at least resembles Mena Massoud because I’ll forever be mad at Stellan Skarsgard’s casting as Orlando Bloom’s father in the POTC movies. They kept saying Will was Bill’s spitting image and they looked NOTHING ALIKE. Anyway, I would love to explore how Aladdin and his father are so similar and any other shenanigans. They don’t have to be looking for the Hand of Midas or pull exactly from the animated film, but I think it would be great to see Aladdin have a whole person enter his life who is into some dark and bad stuff. It would be a different kind of personal story since it’s his father and he never really knew what happened to the man. Oh, that would be so great!

Idea 3: Another Country

Let’s see some other countries in this world. We can go to Shirabad sure, but I’m thinking more along the line of, Jasmine and Aladdin visit another country on the Silk Road for something and perhaps the royal family, a rival young King maybe, is a super jerk? Or perhaps another kingdom wants to invade Agrabah and/or conquer all the desert kingdoms… let’s go to war! This is the lesser of my ideas.

Idea 4: Married Life

I wouldn’t mind having a romcom like film with Aladdin and Jasmine getting used to married life and all the shenanigans that happens with that, like what is Aladdin’s actual title now? I really like the idea of him having a difficult time being in a ruler, especially since he’s made a name for himself as a thief. I would assume the guards who were on Jafar’s side were punished so none of them would be a problem exactly, but maybe some people in the kingdom? I don’t know but I would be interested in seeing how they handle being married. It seemed like Genie and Dalia were returning to Agrabah at the beginning of the film, so are they there to stay? They already have kids and stuff, so Aladdin and Jasmine must have been married for a while or there is some pocket of magic that allowed time to move differently for Dalia and the Genie?? Let me just also say, I think Will Smith’s Genie should also retain some of his magic. Maybe not like phenomenal cosmic powers but some of it should be left if he’s had magic for 10,000 years. It can’t just be gone. Anyway, let’s get it.

Idea 5: Mozenrath

Do y’all remember him from the animated show?

Mozenrath He’s a dark sorcerer, similar in ways to Jafar and I would quite enjoy seeing him on the big screen. So, I know he’s really pale because of where he lives, but just hire a light skinned POC as it’s not an excuse to cast a non POC actor. Anyways, he and Aladdin often butted heads and I remember reading that they wanted to introduce him as Aladdin’s older brother he didn’t know about in the third movie, but they decided to explore Aladdin’s dad instead. Now, I’m not against the idea of him being Aladdin’s older brother, perhaps from another woman, but we’ve seen that many times, so I would rather that not be the case. I’m even hesitant on him being a friend Aladdin knew from the city. Sooo, perhaps he was “friends” with Jafar, perhaps he knew Jafar from Shirabad since Jafar is clearly from Shirabad and not Agrabah.

There are a few episodes in the show that have good plots they could adapt. “Two to Tangle” is about Mozenrath dying because of his dark magic gauntlet or whatever, so he wants to transfer his body into a younger, stronger, healthier one and he chooses Aladdin. That could be interesting. There are a few others but this one is a little less cheesy lol.

This is My Thoughts on an Aladdin sequel with my Top Five ideas. I really think this movie deserves one, way more than Maleficent does, don’t even get me started on that, and there is a ton of material to pull from with the animated show, or even creating a new and interesting story. Plus, I want to visit this world again with Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott leading the charge. Shoot give me a television show on Disney Plus! Something!

Thanks for reading! And thanks to everyone who has liked and followed this blog! I am so grateful for my readers! Also, to everyone who has followed me, thank you so much!

Please feel free to comment, I love feedback. Let me know what you think of these ideas AND what would you like to see in a sequel. Tell me something good!

Movie Review: Aladdin (2019)

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Summary: A kind-hearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.
I think it needs to be said as I’ve seen a lot of negative reviews compare it to the animated version. YOU CAN’T COMPARE THE MERITS OF A MOVIE OFF OF IT’S PREDECESSOR! It’s destined to fail regardless if you do that. Yes, it’s a remake but it’s still its own movie and should be judged as such. As I’ve said before, I’ve been very optimistic about these remakes and I had such high hopes for this one. Probably even more so than the others.
You can read the two other posts about this movie. A trailer review and a thoughts piece.
I’m making sure not to have spoilers, at least nothing that will ruin the movie, or at least nothing that you don’t already know from being familiar with the animated film or that’s in the trailers.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Mena Massoud as Aladdin. He is an impoverished Agrabah thief and “street rat” whose been doing his thing for years. He steals because he must, but we see just how selfless he can be when he gets some food after a pretty good score and gives his food to a kid and his family. When he meets Jasmine and they go on their adventure in the city, he falls for her because she seems to understand him and vice versa. They have a connection and he’s interested in pursuing it. He believes that he might have a chance at something he might not have had before. He then gets mixed up in a task from Jafar and starts to think of how he can impress a princess as he doesn’t want to let their connection go. Aladdin is a pure character, very sincere in the beginning. He’s smart, he understands how the world works and while he might wish things were different, he isn’t mad at the world. I’ve always liked that about him. His situation is the situation and when he gets the chance to make it better, he isn’t automatically thinking of “I want riches”, “I want power”, he just wants to be with the girl he fell for. It’s naive but it’s innocent. He never intentionally sets out to be a liar. We see that about him. As the film goes on, we see him start to fall into the lie he’s created, and he gets punished for it in different ways and then must find a way to come back from all of that. Mena Massoud is my age, I think about 27 but he has a youthful energy about him in this movie which I really loved. I loved watching him play one of my favorite characters and one of my first crushes lol. He’s very handsome with a smile to die for and big brown eyes which helps the charm that Aladdin has. He has some great facial expressions he gives in certain parts of the movie and The Genie is right in saying “kid, is it just me or does everything surprise you?” and even Mena Massoud says that the best emoji face for Aladdin is the “surprised emoji” because his reaction to things he’s not used to is just so pure. I think he has a nice singing voice and I wonder just how much of the stunts he does because Aladdin does a TON of stunts in this movie. Whether he’s jumping off buildings, falling out of windows, hanging off walls/cliffs etc. I also love to see just how good of a thief Aladdin is. He is REALLY good at his job and I was so impressed at how much I liked him in the role. Great job Mena! I can’t wait to see you reprise this role in the SEQUEL! I AM CLAIMING IT NOW! Also, any future projects. I will be keeping my eye on you.
  • Will Smith as Genie. The genie is a being who has been stuck inside of a lamp for 1000 years, but he is surprisingly chill about it. Obviously, he wants to get out more, be outside and everything but he’s not like cranky. He is kind, eccentric and just a lot of fun. He has the power to grant the three wishes of anyone who possesses his magic lamp. He is an all-powerful being. He is a bit of a trickster in ways, but he becomes a great mentor figure to Aladdin. He comes to care for the kid and wants to see him be true and honest to himself. He seems to not want him to fall into any issues that he might have seen previous masters fall into. The Genie sees the greatness within Aladdin and he wants him to be more confident in the power he has inside of himself. He even says to him (which is the trailer) “I changed what you looked like on the outside, but I didn’t change anything on the inside” and I think that’s one of his best lines because that’s so true and he wants Aladdin to see that for himself. Will Smith did have big shoes to fill thanks to Robin Williams iconic and memorable performance, but I worked hard to not compare it, but I think he manages to pay homage to what Robin Williams did while also making the role his own. Just like Robin Williams pretty much played Robin Williams, Will Smith plays Will Smith as the Genie. He had great chemistry with Mena Massoud. He really felt like a father/brother figure to him and he was very energetic and clearly had fun while playing the part. I think he managed to make the role his own and while he might not be as memorable, I think what he did deserves praise. His jokes were funny, particularly the “brass” one. I don’t know why but I cackled each time I saw it at that part. Smith said he pulled from a lot of his earlier characters for the role and in certain places you can see that. I also liked a lot of his emotional and more serious moments, like at the Harvest Festival when he’s telling Aladdin that he didn’t change anything on the inside. Or the part where he finds out Aladdin probably won’t use his third wish to set him free. I thought he did very well in both of those parts and I loved his dialogue in the serious moments. Great job Will Smith! I was a little nervous, but I really enjoyed him!
  • Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. She is the Sultan’s daughter who is feisty and wants to have control over her life. When we first meet her, it’s in the city where she’s already out there seeing how he people live. She’s young and there’s a lot that she must learn but at the same time, she smart and quick on her feet. She wants to be Sultan because she feels like she knows her kingdom and people more than any outsider Prince would. She has more than just “I don’t want to marry someone I don’t love” but that she can’t rule because she’s a woman. I know some people complain about “forced feminism” but I think that’s just ridiculous because it gives her more reason to turn down these Princes. She goes through more than just trying to decide who she’ll marry. She also must find her voice and the courage to speak out for her people and herself, whether it’s against her father or Jafar. I’ve always liked Jasmine, but I feel like she’s given more of a personality in this. In the animated version, she’s pretty one dimensional and we get to know her more in sequels and the TV show, but we know a lot of her here and I think you root for her more because of that. She loves her city and feels some type of way that she isn’t allowed to go out and experience it more, she really wants to be someone who can lead. Naomi Scott does all this well. I think she is the stand out in the film. She is a great reactionary actress. I love how expressive her eyes are. Whenever someone is saying something that is really affecting her, her eyes grow large and if she’s trying to hold back tears, you see that in her entire body. I was really impressed, and I really liked her. Great job Naomi! Plus, she absolutely KILLS her new song “Speechless”. I get chills every time I hear it. She also has great chemistry with Mena Massoud and I think their chemistry really elevates the story between Jasmine and Aladdin.
  • Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. In this he is a young man, the Grand Vizier of Agrabah and the Sultan’s chief advisor. He is frustrated with how the Sultan rules and wants to overthrow him once he acquires the Genie’s lamp. We get to know more about him in this movie. We learn a bit about his childhood and he even relate to Aladdin in some ways, he’s honest about that. I think because he’s a young man he comes off way more desperate. He may have played the patient game but it’s not like he’s an older man whose been biding his time for years. He’s somehow made it high up in the ranks to be closer to the Sultan and give him advice. Plus, he seems to have a penchant for war as he advises him on that in some areas. I quite liked Jafar in this. I don’t think he’s as scary or intimidating as he is in the animated film (which is one of the few times I compared the two) but that’s part of the interesting thing in his character. He’s not really intimidating but he tries to be, and he even has this crazy thing about him. There’s a place where Jafar calls out to Aladdin (as Prince Ali) and when Aladdin kind of dismisses him, he almost yells but tries to compose himself because they were in public. I love that lol. Also, later when he gets the lamp, his reaction is so great. I was okay with him not being this oily kind of man but a desperate young man. I think Marwan Kenzari was good and dynamic in the role. He’s almost a bit tragic, in a pitiful way. I hope there’s a sequel “Return of Jafar” because I would love to see him return with bigger intentions. He threatened Aladdin big time and I want to see them face off!
  • Navid Negahban as The Sultan. He doesn’t have this large role, but he is wise and noble and he’s very eager to find a capable husband for his daughter. He is kind but not goofy and aloof. He wants the best for his daughter and everything he does is to secure the future for Jasmine. He has a few active moments towards the end of the film. Navid Negahban is good in the role, he has a commanding presence which fit the world they created in this film. I was glad he wasn’t silly and easily manipulated.
  • Nasim Pedrad as Dalia. She is Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante. She clearly has been by Jasmine’s side for a long time and I liked her. Dalia was funny and sure she was comedic relief, but it wasn’t in your face and annoying, at least not to me. I just loved that Jasmine had someone to talk to and bounce her thoughts, dreams and feelings off of, because Rajah is great, but he can’t talk back to her ya know? Nasim Pedrad has great facial expressions, especially when she’s talking to the Genie in later scenes or even reacting to things between Aladdin and Jasmine.
Character Chemistry. There are a few interesting relationships we get in this film where the chemistry between the actors is strong.
  • Aladdin and Abu. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to include this one because Abu isn’t a human but the friendship between Aladdin and Abu is important because they’ve been living together for X amount of years. They have a routine of how they do things, how they steal and all of that. Plus, I’m not sure how often Abu is a CGI monkey, but Mena Massoud really made it seem like he was best friends with his monkey, friend and partner.
  • Aladdin and Jasmine. Obviously, the main relationship of the film and it’s important that they have a good relationship and chemistry with each other. I love the fact that she’s with him while he’s singing “One Jump” which allows both us and Jasmine to see how well he knows the city. They have a connection from the first moment he saves her from the accusing vendor and says, “Do you trust me?” they have a moment. Later, in his home, they have a chance to talk and get to know each other a bit more before she ends up going back home, even with a negative thought in her mind about him. He likes her so much that he even attempts to see her again.  He even willingly goes into the Cave to hopefully find a way to impress her. As Prince Ali, he’s awkward with her and it makes for a lot of endearing and humorous moments. I think the movie hits a lot of important beats for these two where their romance is young and innocent, and you root for them. Plus, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott have great chemistry!! Even watching them in interviews I’m like “O. O”.
  • Aladdin and Genie. Their friendship is one of the crux of the movie. They meet in the cave when Aladdin releases him from the lamp and at first, it’s weird because Aladdin isn’t what the Genie thought would be the master, but then they build this friendship to the point where Aladdin trusts the Genie and vice versa. It’s a brotherhood and we see it grow as the movie continues. We see how much the Genie grows to care about this kid and how Aladdin looks up to him and even feels some type of way whenever the Genie seems disappointed in them. You get invested in their relationship. Will Smith and Mena Massoud have great chemistry together as well. They play off each other well and I was invested in their friendship.
  • Jasmine and Dahlia. Dahlia is Jasmine’s handmaiden and her friend. This relationship gave Jasmine another person, who understood her and believed in her, to talk too. Sure, she had Rajah, but he can’t talk back to her so giving her a friend I think, worked out. Dahlia is protective of Jasmine and vice versa, she encourages her, and I think Naomi Scott and Nasim Pedrad played off each other well.
  • Aladdin and Jafar. Aladdin and Jafar meet when they go to the Cave of Wonders. There is a tension being built between the two. Jafar clearly sees a bit of himself in Aladdin and he even has an honest conversation with him in some ways. As the film goes on and they meet again later when he’s Prince Ali, there’s a suspicion and dislike there from Jafar and of course Aladdin remembers him. So, there’s a tension that builds between the two whenever they’re in a scene together. I’ll mention their ending a bit later, but I was hoping for this tension to clash big time.
Production Design. Gemma Jackson who did production design work on Game of Thrones led the design here. I love the design of the world. In the opening credits while Will Smith is singing “Arabian Nights”, we go through Agrabah, through the marketplace and the palace. We pretty much get a quick look at what all the main characters are doing in that moment. Agrabah looks so realistic, crowded and like a thriving port city. Plus, we get to see that Aladdin really knows the city, I mean during “One Jump” he really goes through a lot of areas in the city and it allows us to see just how cast Agrabah is. When we see Aladdin’s home, it looks like something he would be able to throw together being someone of poor means. We don’t get to see a ton of inside the palace, but we do get very nice shots of the outside of the palace which is beautiful and the designs in some of the rooms we do visit are also beautiful. The Cave of Wonders also looks cool. The tiger face is put into the side of the mountain, which makes more sense. I liked that it looks like the inside of a mountain and that Aladdin had to really climb up this rock pillar (I mean he did a lot of climbing in this movie lol) to reach the lamp. I do think it looks like a set in some areas but once I got into the movie, which happened quickly, it doesn’t stand out as being a set that much.
Costume Design. Michael Wilkinson oversees the costumes, and these are some of my favorite costumes in the live action Disney movie spectrum. I love all of Jasmine’s outfits. I mean, most of them I’d seen before in the trailers and in promo photos but seeing them in the movie, like when she first walks down the stairs in that pink dress, like omg it’s so beautiful. Seeing her iconic blue outfit during the Harvest Ball and the “Whole New World” sequence is so beautiful! The attention to detail on her costumes. Just WOW! Also, Aladdin’s Prince Ali look is also a fantastic take on his iconic look and the color, while it was always white, it just looks so great on Mena and of course I like how he got a close shave and a haircut to add to the look. I also liked that he didn’t walk around wearing a giant turban lol. The Genie’s human look is based off the Broadway show which I thought when I saw it, but it’s also great. I love the colors on Will Smith’s skin. Aladdin’s “street thief” look is also nice. I know some people were upset because he’s wearing a shirt, and sure, I get it, especially since Mena Massoud is a gym guy (I follow him on IG) and he has a nice physique but I didn’t mind that he actually wore clothes because with all the stuff he’s doing, all the stealing what not, if he’s not wearing clothes that can fit his lifestyle then why have that lifestyle ya know? Like his red hoodie vest thing is great, all the pockets in that thing. I love how he uses it in the beginning when he’s stealing. GAH! I love the costumes.
The Soundtrack. Okay, every song from the animated film is in the movie. Will Smith starts us off singing “Arabian Nights” and there are different words in there. I was a little shocked at first when Will Smith started singing because I don’t think I ever really heard him sing, I’ve heard him rap, but the singing shocked me, and I think he sounds good. The arrangement of the music is also nice, I really got into the flow of it. Mena Massoud sings both “One Jump” and the reprise of that “Riff raff, street rat… I don’t buy that” that one and I think he sounds rather nice. “Friend Like Me” also gets a funky upgrade which I also like and its Will Smith in his element of the music he used to rap but it is still what you remember. He throws his own Will Smith flavor into it. “A Whole New World” is lovely and I think Naomi Scott and Mena Massoud sound good together. He almost sounds like Brad Kane sometimes. “Prince Ali” also gets a bit of an upgrade in the flavor of the song. Now, Jasmine gets a solo song “Speechless” which I knew about, and you hear it twice. The first time, it’s like a pep talk to herself and it’s only a few bars. Later, she sings it again as more of her anthem and I really like this song. It does feel out of place in terms of the arrangement and the “pop-like” sound it has, but Naomi Scott really kills it vocally and the arrangement doesn’t even matter to me because the lyrics make sense for her character.
Big Spectacle Sequences. Some of the songs have a smaller moment happening while they’re being performed on screen, like the first “Speechless” is just a quiet moment for Jasmine. “Arabian Nights” is the song for the opening so we get introduced into the world during that. But “Friend Like Me”, “Prince Ali” and “One Jump” are probably the ones that have a lot going on. “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” are the Genie’s songs, so he gets to use his magic to show Aladdin what to expect and he goes all out. “Friend Like Me” is probably my favorite out of the two sequences we get from The Genie. It’s what “Be Our Guest” in Beauty and the Beast should have been. Plus, Aladdin gets to dance during this scene and I don’t know how much Mena Massoud did, but it was fun to watch Aladdin and the Genie get down. “Prince Ali” is probably the bigger of the two spectacles in theory, but it was very subdued to me and it was fun. I mostly liked watching Aladdin be all awkward up there as people are looking at him in awe.
It’s Really Funny. The first time I saw it, I had a good crowd, there was a lot of people laughing in places and sometimes people laughing is funnier than what’s happening on screen. When I saw it again later, there was a couple next to me who were super cute laughing at stuff. BUT the movie is funny. Aladdin in this is confident in ways but he’s also a young man. I’m not sure his age exactly, but he has some great dialogue. One of my favorite moments, is when he gets caught by some guards and the big one says “Evening” in his deep timbre and Aladdin says “evening” but it’s all high pitched and he clears his throat to sound more confident. Cute and funny. Mena Massoud has some nice comedic timing. Abu gets some laughs. The Genie got a lot of laughs from me. I mean, it’s Will Smith being Will Smith. Some of my favorite stuff for him is during the Harvest Festival scene. Jafar has some moments. Iago does as well. He talks but it’s like full blown conversations, he sounds like a parrot, but he’ll say shady stuff. Dahlia also has some good comedic moments as well. It’s lighthearted fun.
Guy Ritchie’s Style. This will be both here and in the con section. Guy Ritchie was an odd choice to film this movie, but I understand it because he films action well and while there isn’t like huge action sequences, there are smaller moments where we have action. During “One Jump” it’s a whole action piece of Aladdin and Jasmine running through the city. When Aladdin goes into the Cave of Wonders, he slides down a sandy hill, he gets pushed out of a window… Aladdin goes through a lot in this movie lol. In the pushed-out window scene, you see it in the trailer, not a spoiler, it does get slowed down and I like it in that moment. It slows down so you can see the terror on his face and then it speeds up in time to see him hit that water and boy… PAINFUL lol. Then of course the chase scene at the end, Ritchie loves chase scenes lol. I would like to see the movie in someone else’s hands who may have more experience in doing a movie like this, but I think his style is fine.
Cons:
Guy Ritchie’s Style. I don’t think this is wholly a con, but there are some instances where it seems weird. Guy Ritchie has his style when it comes to action. I’ve only seen a couple of his movies, but he has a style and it’s evident in this movie at times. During “One Jump” there is a part where Aladdin and Jasmine are walking away from the guards and they are oddly sped up in that moment. Like, they look like they’re walking normally, but it’s like two seconds faster. It’s just a bit weird. He also loves to do the slow-mo. moments that then go back into the action. It doesn’t happen a lot but if you don’t like when people do that in actions movies then it might get on your nerves.
Inconsistent CGI. There are times when I think Abu and Rajah look a little weird. I mean, I know Disney can do CGI well because Jungle Book is beautiful and so seamless but it’s just a few times where it doesn’t look the best. Same can be said of The Genie. I don’t think he looked as jarring as he looked when we first saw him in the teaser where it was like “Ummm” it fits much better in the movie. HOWEVER, there are plenty of times where his face looked really CGI and it wasn’t as seamless and it should have been. I think Will Smith did motion capture for the role and sometimes it doesn’t always translate well. It looks very uncanny valley. I don’t mind how his body looks, or any of that, I mean harping on him being “jacked” is just childish because he’s a Genie, so what? lol the CGI is just odd at times.
Anti-climactic Face Off. At the end of the film where Jafar has the lamp and all that stuff and Aladdin is trying to save Agrabah from him, I was into the chase scene (something that Guy Ritchie does well) but I was hoping for a faceoff between Aladdin and Jafar that was more than just a conversation. I think it was well acted by everyone in the scene, particularly Marwan Kenzari but they built up this tension between Aladdin and Jafar the entire movie and not much came of it, at least not the way I think it should have. They left it open for a sequel and I’m hoping for a sequel. “Return of Jafar” sure, but make sure it’s like good and stuff because I don’t really like the animated movie lol. I just wish that the climax held the same energy that the movie held in other places. It doesn’t quite stick the triumph of Jafar’s defeat the way it should/could have.
Overall, I LOVED Aladdin. I knew I was probably going to like it, but I loved it. I think all the acting is good and they all fit into their character roles well. I do believe Naomi Scott really shines in the film, Will Smith does a great job with the Genie and newcomer Mena Massoud really holds his own and I can’t wait to watch everything he does next. We see what we’re familiar with but also with some updated personality traits I think work for the film. The production design is amazing and Agrabah looks great. The costume design is BEAUTIFUL and one of my favorite things about the movie. The soundtrack has an updated sound to it and still maintains the upbeat and catchy sounds it’s known for. I love the chemistry built up between different characters and the tension we get between Aladdin and Jafar as they seemed to be cut from the same cloth just had different destinies thrust upon them. I think Guy Ritchie’s style of directing works in the film for the most part. This movie isn’t perfect no matter how much I seem to be singing its praises. Ritchie’s style comes off awkward at different points in the film, just as the CGI doesn’t always hold up, particularly on the Genie at times. I also wish the climax was much bigger because there was plenty of potential for that and it just doesn’t hit the way it should have. With all that said. I’m probably one of the few critics who wrote a review and absolutely loved it.
SOOOOO take that as you will.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Aladdin? What are your thoughts on the film? What is your favorite of the live action Disney remakes so far? Which one are you most looking forward to?

Trailer Reaction: Aladdin (2019)

You guys! The official trailer for Aladdin dropped and I think it’s glorious!
As I said in “My Thoughts: Live Action Aladdin“, I’ve been hopeful and optimistic for this movie ever since it was announced. I love Aladdin, it’s always been one of my favorite Disney movies, favorite movie of all time. I think it lends itself to live action really well, it just depends on the people involved and how it’s handled. The teaser trailer made me smile but I was like “okay, this is cute” but THIS trailer has me rejuvenated and I’m so excited to see it. Now May is a tricky month, usually a lot of big blockbusters come out but I think Aladdin has some nice cushion that it won’t be dogged out by other larger movies. Plus, it’s Disney, plus it’s a live action reimagining so… I think it’ll be fine.
Now, I’ve only done this one other time and it was when Beauty and the Beast came out, you can look at that reaction here. I won’t do it all the time, but maybe just for the Disney ones, I don’t know. But I knew I wanted to do it for this.
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So here is Agrabah, at least the lower levels and I think it really gives this world some depth and I like how not only does it remind me of the animated film, but it kind of makes its own way.
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Here is our resident street rat doing awesome parkour stuff, which he should be able to do considering he knows the marketplace like the back of his hand and he must be able to escape from the palace guards whenever he can. It makes sense that he can do these cool awesome things. Plus, Guy Ritchie does action scenes well, so I’m hoping that the beginning with him running through the marketplace coupled with “One Jump” that it will be a fun opening, not to mention all the action that happens at the end when Aladdin returns to save the day!
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So I’ve always liked the foreshadowing in the animated film when Aladdin takes that rug and uses it to escape at the beginning only for him to find a living rug in the Cave of Wonders and it helps him escape then. So, I think it’s rather cool that they have him holding it like he’s going to use it but then he doesn’t, maybe it was a diversion?? lol I don’t know but it made me laugh when I rewatched the trailer. Not to mention, the rope he’s using also holds up the scaffolding the guards are standing on, so two birds one stone.
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The guards fall into a big thing of flowers, instead of cow dung lol and the flowers fly and slowly fall around Jasmine and I think it’s a really beautiful moment. Naomi Scott looks great in that scene and I love her slow turn with the flowers and then Aladdin’s “Whoa” moment upon seeing her. I know, she pretty lol.
THEN DISNEY LOGO. Side note, does anyone remember the old Disney intro with Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey Mouse using magic to make the Disney logo appear? If I find it while writing this, I’ll add it to the final edit.
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FOUND IT!

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So then we see Jafar walking towards a barred door with Iago flying in the background. Probably his secret lair where he finds out who the diamond in the rough is and he’s talking in the background to Aladdin. He’s appealing to Aladdin’s desires, which is of course super smart because you get someone to do the dirty work for you who is willing to do whatever.
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As he’s talking to Aladdin in the desert but the big difference I see here, is that Jafar is talking to him as himself. Which in the Broadway play, he doesn’t disguise himself as that old man, he just saves him from being killed by the guards and sweet talks him into helping him. So perhaps they’re going that route with this which I think is interesting because then when he sees him later, will he be quick on his feet about recognizing him and thinking he’s no good? I’m curious.
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Gosh her outfit is beautiful. Now we have Aladdin on the camel following Jafar and his people out into the desert to the Cave of Wonders and it looks really cool! I mean it’s built right into the side of the mountain and I wonder if it’s always there or if they have to summon it. I like the fact that it’s always there, just maybe not awake?
But he gets in there and the inside looks really cool! He’s climbing on giant rocks to the lamp and we get the shot we got at the end of that very first teaser.
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I like the way he’s looking at the lamp. It’s like wonder and awe but at the same time he’s really careful. He’s lived on the street all of his life, he’s surrounded by treasure and I’m sure he was told not to touch anything else and he’s probably like “Okay… nice and easy… don’t do anything crazy” because that’s exactly what I would be thinking while trying to pick that up. Plus… is it heavy? Aladdin is looking at the lamp and the details on it is very beautiful. He rubs it and here comes the blue smoke!
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He looks so good coming out of that smoke! So he’s putting on this booming voice and talking about working for the master and the wishes three and all that normal genie stuff… you know I have to say, I think since Robin Williams was pretty much Robin Williams while portraying the genie and it was iconic, it makes sense for them to allow Will Smith to do the same and I think he’ll do a great job at it. But he was kidding and then “Friend Like Me” plays and I wonder if it’ll be more like a rap. I mean the beat sounded the same but it had a bit of extra spice in it and I loved it. I can’t wait to see the animation and CGI in this scene. It has to be better than the “Be Our Guest” in Beauty and the Beast because while I liked it, it was a little lackluster.
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Definitely has some of that Fresh Prince flair to it doesn’t it? I’m actually here for it more than I was before.
Aladdin and Genie are overlooking the desert and carpet looks awesome! Genie snaps them back into a little shelter and he’s now looking like a regular Will Smith human. I really do like the costuming on his human form. Aladdin asks Genie if he can make him a prince and the Genie tells him there is a lot of grey area in “make” instead of “wishing” because make could mean… make a prince and he makes a prince lol.
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See the prince in the background? lol he just made him appear instead of “creating a prince persona” for Aladdin. I like this kind of personality he seems to have. I like that while he seems to be fun-loving, he also doesn’t use a joke for everything he needs to say. Not saying that it wasn’t great in the animation to see that Genie do that, but it’s nice that he’s already appearing like his own character. I also loved Aladdin’s reaction to seeing Genie magically appear in a different place than he was before. It was cute.
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He’s turning him into a Prince! I think this is such a great clip to show us. We get to see Will Smith more in the blue and it’s a lot less jarring than it was before, it fits and I like it. Not to mention, we get to see both Abu and Carpet hanging out and we get a nice little glimpse of his Prince Ali outfit which I wondered how it would look because it’s an iconic Aladdin look. AND LET ME TELL YOU….
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I AM EXCITED FOR THIS ENTIRE SEQUENCE. YA’LL BETTER DELIVER! I mean the colors! It looks fantastic and the Prince Ali outfit is amazing. I’m really curious about Jafar in this though since he’s a much younger guy. Like I said in “My Thoughts”, he’s a younger guy so is he just a young upstart who moved up in the ranks too fast? Will Aladdin be even more competition because they’re not to far apart in age? I’m really interested to see this version of him and to see the rivalry they have.
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So this looks like there is a party instead of a one on one kind of thing for Jasmine’s hand. Like a Cinderella like ball which is cool and I like this look from both men. Aladdin looks all clean and cute and I like the colors on Will Smith. The costumes are truly beautiful. HAVE IT COSPLAYERS! The Genie tells Aladdin that while he changed what he looks like on the outside, he didn’t change anything on the inside which is an important message. You can make yourself look beautiful but if you are nasty on the inside you’ll always be nasty and vice versa. Aladdin’s lesson to learn is that his outward appearance doesn’t matter because he’s a good person regardless of his circumstance. Not to mention, Jasmine falls for him because of what he shows her not because his clothes or standing. He just so happened to also be a “prince”, a fake one but still lol you get my point.
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SO BEAUTIFUL! LOOK AT THE OUTFIT!! ANYWAYS, Genie tells Aladdin it’s time to do his thing, he’s all like “No, I’m in charge, I say when I go” probably being a scaredy cat so the Genie uses magic to send him Jasmine’s way and its super cute. They talk, he’s shocked that she’s not allowed to go wherever she wants.
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Ya’ll it’s getting real out here! He asked her if she trusts him and she slowly slides her hand in his and the music is swelling and I’m smiling like an idiot because I’m so excited. I mean, I think I’m a little more excited than I was when the official trailer for Beauty and the Beast came out lol. I’m not sure but I was stupid excited for that too and I can’t even! She climbs up on the carpet and the music is swelling and
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A WHOLE NEW WORLD!! I think they sound really good together. I’m really interested in this scene too, so iconic. I keep saying that but it’s so true! The carpet looks great, she looks great, he looks great. *sighs* I need this movie now.
So while this song is playing, we see a couple of other clips. One of Aladdin and Jasmine dancing and I love her peacock shawl thing, y’all I’m drooling over the costumes.

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We have them throwing Aladdin over the cliff, looks like he’s tied to a chair. Word lol. Clips of Genie during the “Prince Ali” sequence. Aladdin running atop the buildings in the marketplace, most likely from “One Jump”. There’s a scene of him climbing and being awesome on some icy mountains which I wondered if that’s from when Jafar sends him away to die from the cold.
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Here is Abu trying to catch the lamp which makes me think it’s the part at the end where they’re fighting Jafar for the lamp and he gets turned into a toy. Probably won’t happen the exact same way but I’m hoping for a large action sequence at the end. MAKE IT BIG AND AWESOME because I had this chance to see an awesome live action fight between Aladdin and Jafar and Once Upon a Time had that opportunity and messed it up!
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Dunno what’s happening in the picture above but perhaps it’s the climax when he takes the lamp. I love the red though and his staff looks red here as well. Maybe it’s during the final battle. There are some clips of Raja maybe protecting Jasmine? The Genie dancing during “Prince Ali” and we get this shot with even more beautiful clothes.
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I think that’s Iago in the background as a giant bird and he’s chasing down Abu and Aladdin. I do wonder if Iago will talk, I would prefer if he didn’t because I don’t think he needs to, if anything Jafar talking to his bird makes him even more crazy. It’s better than having the bird actually talk back to him. But Run Boy Run! Iago is chasing them on carpet and then a shot from inside the Cave of Wonders again before we get the awesome logo where it looks like the hilt of a dagger.
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Ya’ll let me tell y’all how excited I am. I mean, I think it’ll be good. I’m not sure how good but I think it will be worth the watch because this trailer was everything. I like the casting, I LOVE the costumes and from what we hear of the music I really like that as well.
No matter what you think of the whole reimagining into live action, there are some things to be added and newly experienced for these new movies. Also the official poster is dope.
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So that’s my “reaction” to the official trailer. I’ve seen a lot of people saying that they’re more interested in it now because of this trailer and I think that’s great news because I think it deserves a chance.
What are your thoughts on the Aladdin trailer? Let me know your thoughts down below!
Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

My Thoughts: Live Action Aladdin

So, listen, I’ve wanted to do a piece on what I thought about Disney’s live action trek through our childhood memories. I did one a couple of years ago when Beauty and the Beast was coming out. You can read Disney Remakes Thoughts and the Beauty and the Beast review.
It’s no secret that I am optimistic for these remakes. I don’t have a problem with it and I will get into all of that when I talk about that. This piece is to specifically talk about the live action Aladdin movie before it comes out and I do my official review. These are my thoughts SO FAR. There isn’t much to really talk about since it’s not out yet but I’m going to touch on the casting and the costumes mostly because that’s what the promo photos have been for.
The Casting
So obviously I thought it was important to have a cast full of people of color for this movie because of where it’s set. Sure, Agrabah is a fake country but it is based on real places. I remember back when they officially announced it, everyone wanted Avan Jogia to play Aladdin.

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Obviously I get it, I mean back in the day, I would have been like yasss, but I like the guy they got to play Aladdin.
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I think he’s super cute and I follow him on Instagram and he seems to have great energy for the role. I just hope the direction and the writing allows him to be great. Sometimes actors can’t shine when the material won’t let them so I’m hoping it does because the animated film is so great. I think Mena Massoud is a fine choice physically, so we’ll see how it is acting wise.
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Now when Naomi Scott was cast as Jasmine, there was a lot of backlash because she’s not brown enough. Listen, I get it because representation is important, and I agree. It would have been nice to have someone who is browner to play such an iconic princess who is the first Disney princess of color. I get it completely. However, my issue came with the fact that people had such a problem with her when she is of Indian descent on her mother’s side, but everyone wanted Avan Jogia to play Aladdin when his father is British-Indian. It was so crazy to me. I often defended her casting whenever it came up in a conversation because it’s not like she not a person of color at all. But that’s over and done, I think she looks great in the role. I’ve only seen her in Power Rangers and a few episodes in shows. I think she’s a fine actress. I just hope they allow Jasmine to have a bit more character growth. She is my third favorite Disney princess, but I never really thought she had the best writing in the animated film. She’s a great character but she’s a flat character, which is why I hoped they took notes from the Broadway show. She has a lot more character in that and I think it’s important that we get to know Jasmine as more than just “I don’t want to marry someone I don’t love” just like we get to know and love Aladdin.
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As for Will Smith, I’m okay with this casting overall. I was a little skeptical when it was first announced, and I am not necessarily skeptical but curious now. I like Will Smith, he’s a likable guy but I can never see him as his character… he’s Will Smith. I think the only time I was like “wow that’s the character and not Will Smith” was probably Hancock just because that guy was a jerk and a bit different from the characters Will Smith plays that I have seen anyway. I know no one can fill Robin Williams’ shoes but I hope they don’t try to copy that iconic character but allow Will Smith to make it his own. Now, in the trailer, the way he started talking sounded like The Fresh Prince and I was like ummm… so I just hope it’s not too jarring outside of his physical appearance. I think he’ll be fine overall, but I’m just like… okaayyyyy.
The Costumes
I think they are beautiful. At least all the Disney remakes have had beautiful costumes, no matter what you think of Cinderella’s huge blue dress or Belle’s yellow dress. I think they’re both fine. I didn’t care for Cinderella’s dress at first, it grew on me but overall, it’s fine. I’m in the minority but I really liked Belle’s dress but ya know, whatevs lol.

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But I think the costumes in Aladdin look so good so far.
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I like Aladdin’s look mostly. Mena Massoud has great hair and it just looks weird, I don’t know if it’s because he’s supposed to be “dirty”, so his hair is greasy, I don’t know but that’s what throws me off the most. I mean, I know in the pictures he looks really “clean” as I have seen people say but I mean promotional pictures aren’t technically stills from the film. I think he looks better in the second photo with the genie. I can’t WAIT to see his Prince Ali look because it’s iconic and I can imagine the detail on it. *heart eyes*

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Jasmine’s costumes are so beautiful! I think her clothes are my favorite of our live action heroines so far. The attention to detail, the colors, how the blue outfit resembles her iconic outfit but puts a new twist on it. I think she looks amazing. The picture with the Sultan is a new one I discovered, and that yellow is everything. LISTEN, I don’t care, I think Naomi Scott looks great. The Sultan also looks good in that picture.
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Jafar’s costume also looks nice. I think his hat is a bit big lol, but perhaps he’s a young guy who moved up quickly in the ranks and obviously wants to be Sultan. I mean, in the animated film it was gross because he was a smarmy old man and he wanted Jasmine to be his queen lol. So, with this younger actor, I hope he acts super smarmy so make up for being a beautiful man lol.
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As for The Genie. I already said what I had to say on the casting, but I think the blue is a bit jarring. Perhaps when I see the movie it won’t be as weird because I’ll already be immersed in the world and when it happens, maybe it’ll look better. Maybe they’re still putting some work on his final look. I think the second photo looks better than the first photo. Maybe him being large helps this look. I don’t know but I prefer the more “human” look like in the picture above with Aladdin. Apparently, the human look is his disguise when he’s out in the world, but I wish he looked like that all the time. I mean, perhaps his hands turned blue, or maybe whenever he used magic it was blue to pay homage, but I’m not really feeling it. This is probably the first time I’m like…
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But I’m still optimistic. Update: I started writing this on 2/12/2019 and I have to say the blue look is growing on me. It’s still jarring but it’s growing on me.
The Music
This is the last thing I want to touch on. We know and love the songs from the animated film and I can’t wait to see how they do them in this version. I’m excited. I am however curious about these new songs. There is a new solo for Jasmine and Aladdin and Jasmine have a new duet, which is called “sweet”. I really wanted the two original songs from the Broadway show in the film, “Proud of Your Boy” which Aladdin sings in his home and “A Million Miles Away” which Aladdin and Jasmine sing together (but not together). I really wanted both of those in the movie, but I guess they’re not, instead there are two new songs. So, I’m curious to hear those and I’ve never really heard either lead actor sing, I know Naomi Scott was in Lemonade Mouth, but I never saw that, so I’ll just be waiting for the film.
Overall, these are my thoughts right now for the upcoming Aladdin movie. I am excited. As I said, I am generally optimistic about these live action remakes, I don’t think they’re useless, I think its kind of cool and I’m interested to see what they continue to do. I hope Aladdin does a great job!
Thanks for reading my quick thoughts on the upcoming Aladdin movie! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Are you not impressed? Why not? Are you excited? Tell me why! I’m interested in hearing from you!

 

Movie Review: Collateral Beauty (2016)

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There might be spoilers ahead. Just saying.
Trailer Summary: Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
Real Summary: After the death of his daughter, a man questions their universe by writing to Love, Time, and Death. Meanwhile, his “friends” and coworkers, are worried about his lack of interest in their company and devise a plan to push him out. They hire actors to portray Death, Time and Love in order to make him look/feel crazy so they could record digitally alter the footage to prove he’s unfit. 
Pros:
The Cast. There are no characters attached this time because I don’t think, outside of the actors playing them, that they were very interesting characters. I think all of the actors in this film are great actors and they did well in their roles but their characters were meh.
  • Will Smith is a good actor, I this he’s very charismatic overall and I think he understands humor and is a good dramatic actor but his character Howard, was just bland. He’s sad because his daughter died two years prior but he doesn’t do anything other than sulk, he builds domino contraptions in his place of work instead of actually working. He writes these letters to Time, Death and Love because he’s angry at them which is fine. Sure. But he’s just so… blah. There are a few times where he’s funny because I don’t think Will Smith can help it… he’s funny but the emotional moments, while he did a good job acting them, it just felt forced because of the circumstances. The ending though was a good emotional moment for him.
  • Edward Norton plays Whit, Smith’s best friend (I guess) and business partner. He comes up with the idea to hire actors to play the three entities that Howard wrote letter to. He also manages to have a closer relationship with Amy (Knightley) which happens to be ironic later on (but it wasn’t as clever as they tried to make it), he coaches her on how to be “love” to Howard. He is trying to mend his relationship with his daughter, who is upset with him for breaking her mother’s heart, so outside of his plan for Howard, he’s trying to reconnect their love.
  • Kate Winslet plays Claire, who I think was a mentee to Howard. She is the emotional one out of the group and spends her time coaching Raffi on how to be “time” as well as having other conversations with him later. She wants to have a baby because she’s worried her biological clock is ticking. She also is the one who feels bad for deceiving Howard. Kate Winslet is always good, she was good here and her character is likable enough but outside of the minor moments, we don’t really get to know her so you don’t feel bad for her.
  • Michael Pena plays Simon, who I’m not sure what he was to Smith before he became a “partner” or whatever he was. It’s so weird to not see him be funny as he usually always is. He takes the job of coaching Brigitte in being “death” and they end up having interesting conversations where she figures out something is up with him.
  • Naomie Harris plays Madeleine. I love Naomie Harris, she is such a great actress, you also wouldn’t know she’s British lol. But she plays the mediator of a group of parents who have lost their children. She ends up meeting Howard, they have a couple of conversations and she reveals how she was told, while at the hospital, about “Collateral Beauty” and she says this like 5 times in her story. Harris is good in her role in being an actual friend to Howard, someone he actually talks to and unloads his feelings to. It was a welcome change compared to other “friends”.
Death, Time, Love. I actually liked them, they were probably the only characters I actually liked. They are actually actors that Norton and co. hire to manipulate Howard.
  • Helen Mirren as Brigitte/Death. So I love her, she’s amazing and she’s good here too. She is the “leader” it seems of their acting group, and is very much into being the star. At one point, she even wants to portray all three entities. As Brigitte she is lively, a bit nosy and takes an interest in Michael Pena’s character. As Death, she’s the same but her interactions with Howard (there are only two) are her talking about his letter and how Death is important and that he shouldn’t be angry with her etc. but be understanding and accepting. I would have liked to see her play Death more to Howard, as she spends most of her time interacting with Michael Pena (which I get it) but that’s not what the movie was portrayed to be. It was supposed to be about her interacting with Howard and him learning that Death is important to life which is something he needed to understand. Helen Mirren is very lively in this role, she eats it up, it’s fun but she’s too good for this film.
  • Jacob Lattimore as Raffi/Time. I quite liked him and would have liked to have seen more of him. I think he shows promise as a good actor as he continues to grow up. He’s a young man, part of the three man acting trope and he is chosen to play Time to Howard, being that he is a young man. When I saw the trailer, I thought that was clever (and it still was). Raffi is a bit brash and outspoken. When Howard first meets him, “Time” is in his office, where no one else happens to be at that moment, and he is messing with his dominos. He was so harsh, that I loved it. I think Jacob Lattimore really enjoyed himself, his second scene with Howard was also a really good one.
  • Keira Knightley as Amy/Love. We meet her out of the three first, she is at the company trying out for an audition and she changes the slogan they have (it had something to do with love) and then Whit follows her to a theater where they find the others. Just like Kate Winslet, she is against doing this as it’s wrong, but while Kate Winslet is aboard, it’s harder for Amy to participate. She also seemed really emotional. The second time she’s with Howard was probably one of the better scenes in the movie. I also think Keira Knightley looked really beautiful in this film.
The idea. So, I think the idea is interesting. The idea of a man feeling so broken by depression and loss that he writes letters to abstract entities and then they come to him in human form… that’s cool. That’s what I wanted to see. It would have been cool to see him constantly interact with them, learn from them, learn that life is still beautiful even in the loss of loved ones. If it would have followed that path instead of the other stuff it tried to do, it would have been better.
The look of the film. I thought this film had a very nice look to it. It was beautiful to look at, the lighting, the crisp angles etc. I really thought the actors looked really good on screen, like there was some kind of glossy filter on the camera.
The parallels. I will admit, there is aspect of this movie that I thought was interesting which is why I wasn’t completely up in arms while watching it. While, Norton, Winslet and Pena hired actors to portray these abstracts to Howard, they are actually interacting with them one on one (Mirren/Pena), (Lattimore/Winslet), (Knightley/Norton) and are pretty much being to them what they wanted them to be to Howard, but for real. *Spoiler I guess*  which I thought was nice but that prevented from making the moments with Howard genuine.
Cons:
Character motivations. So Norton, Winslet and Pena all work with Smith and they’re trying to get him to get back into work because he’s not doing his job, he’s shirking on his duties, ignoring existing accounts and is refusing to go after more, so they devise a plan that involves actors to get him to appear unhinged in order to get him out of his position. I get it, they didn’t want to lose their jobs, but that’s terrible. They could have just gone to board as professionals instead of concocting this entire stupid plot.
The Detective. First of all, she breaks into a mailbox to steal Howard’s letters. She explains how she got the key but that’s a felony… not to mention, how did you even find his letters in that mailbox? That is not a little house mailbox, but one of those big ones at the street corner. I mean what the heck. Not to mention, when she would follow him to capture the videos of him interacting with the actors, she was like a friggin ghost. She would pop out of nowhere. I understand, she’s a private investigator or whatever, but no. She didn’t need to be in the film at all.
The story. Due to my being upset at the trailers lying to me, I feel that the actual story of the movie is stupid. The whole thing of wanting to show the business board that Howard is unfit… sure even though that’s mean… but why go through all this trouble? Why not just show them your business is falling… I mean come on. Besides, if the actors portraying the entities were only faking it to Howard, what was the point of trying to make it seem like they’re actually these entities.
The emotional manipulation. I’m not saying this movie isn’t sad, it is, but I didn’t feel sad it was more like pity than anything. I’ll go more into this at the end of the review. What this movie tries to do is make a person want to reinvigorate their life, it’s supposed to be one of those movies that shows how a person wants to give up on life after a traumatic experience and they have to learn how to live again. That’s fine, but that is wrapped up in manipulation from the characters in the film, and it feels like it’s trying to beat it over your head. It’s like one of those Facebook posts you’d see where you need to “share it”. I’m going to be honest, it almost made me cry but not because I was sad and affected but because the characters on screen were crying. I’m a contagious crier. If someone else is crying, there’s a good chance I might start.
The “twist”. So there might be spoilers here, I mean, I’m going to try not to… but we’ll see what happens. Howard and his wife got a divorce after their daughter died, it’s been a couple of years and I guess they never really talked to each other. He doesn’t talk about her (he barely talks), but he keeps trying to go to this “Parents who have lost their children” meetings, he makes it closer and closer each time. Naomie Harris plays the mediator. Howard asks her her name, they have a few conversations, she tells him about how her husband reacted after their loss, and she shows him the card she was given.  This is one of those *eye roll* and *HOW!* moments. So that’s as far as I’ll go… if you don’t care and want to know more about this part, I’m going to spoil this part at the very end. You can choose to read further or not.
Boring/Too Slow. This movie takes a long time to get to the point. It’s not a “slow burn” kind of movie, it could have been and I think it was trying to be but it wasn’t and I think that’s where it’s problems lie. To be honest, I don’t think we needed to see the beginning, that probably could have been cut out, I mean I get it, they wanted us to see how Howard was before his daughter’s death, but I think the videos we saw him watch would have been indication enough. Cut out the beginning and get to the point. Not to mention, how long it takes to even get him to actually meeting the abstracts took a while and then the rest dragged on. I can see how it would be boring.
Overall, I think I would have liked Collateral Beauty more if it wasn’t so shallow. The characters are not really that likable, they have their qualities but overall, none of them at least together in this film are that interesting. I think the trailer was very misleading to what this film was about and that’s not a clever twist, it’s manipulative (just like the characters). It looks nice, I think the actors do well in their roles (albeit they’re wasted) and I like the idea of what could have been according to the trailer. I didn’t really care for it, I expected a completely different story. I get it, I get what it was trying to do but it failed to me.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Collateral Beauty? Are you interested? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to like and follow this blog for more!
Spoilers below, do not read further unless you want to be spoiled about Collateral Beauty… you have been warned. 
The “Twist”. So about the twist, Howard stands outside the church staring into the window of the meetings, I said in the beginning that Naomie Harris was going to be his wife but I almost retracted that statement because when they finally talk, he asks her name and they introduce themselves. So later, he goes to her house and it turns out she was his wife and Olivia was their daughter. Now, like I said, it wasn’t that hard to figure out but the reason why I call it a twist, is because they go through this whole runaround like Howard never met her, even when she tells her story about the card her husband left her “I wish we were strangers”, he never showed any indication that he recognized it. So, why wouldn’t he unless somehow he forgot… but I cannot imagine that happening unless he was so depressed that he chose to forget. Or that because he wants to be “strangers” that he really chose to forget but that’s stupid. It felt forced and out of left field and it made me upset. The scene where she forces him to say their daughter’s name was sad and I did almost cry but it wasn’t really out of sadness.
But that’s all I wanted to say about it. I’m done with this movie lol.
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