Promotion for Disney's Aladdin a not-so-magic carpet ride

Finally, Disney have released a full length trailer for the upcoming, Guy Ritchie helmed, live-action adaptation of Aladdin. And it’s glorious. It’s got everything from musical numbers, to comedy, to a not terrifyingly creepy blue genie.

I have to say, Aladdin was a big part of my childhood and I have some high expectations of this film. This trailer, at least, is starting to get my hopes up that Disney and Ritchie may deliver.

It’s not all been as smooth as a ride across the dunes on a magic carpet for Aladdin’s promotional team however. The marketing for this film has been kind of all over the place.

Arguably, Aladdin is the ripest in the Disney Classic cannon for the live action treatment. Human protagonists mean we don’t have jarring CGI in place of romantic leads. (Looking at you Beast…) And the score is magnificent, instantly recognizable and from the sounds of this trailer the cast has the ability to pull the vocals off as well. (*Whispers* ‘looking at you Emma Watson…)

Even in its original animated form there were epic carpet rides and action sequences which have the potential to be even more cinematic and thrilling when portrayed IRL. Guy Ritchie’s signature visual style and experience with these aspects should also bode well.

The Genie, although definitively played by Robin Williams, has always had one foot set in modern culture, referencing contemporary films and celebrities. Which means, while the boots are big, they can be updated and and translated for a new performer and a new audience, and actually, despite some misgivings at the announcement of his casting, I think Will Smith has the presences and charisma to fill this role and put his own stamp on it.

And finally, we get hot Jafar… so…

All of these factors work in the film’s favour, which is why it would be such a disappointment if things got monkeyed up. And for a moment it looked like we were all going to be imprisoned underground in a cave of wonders that’s not so wonderful.

Let’s go right back to the beginning where things started out pretty promising. The original teaser gave us a swooping introduction to the live action Agrabah, as seen from the perspective of Iago, gliding across the desert, and we were shown the wonderfully animated cave of wonders. There were some sweeping, beautifully orchestrated chords from the original score. Everything looked great, sounded great. I was taken back to my childhood, those feelings of excitement, just by the visuals. Check out the trailer here:

Then everything started to get a bit less diamond and bit more rough.

Entertainment Weekly released a ‘First Look’ at the new film’s characters and settings.  Leaving audiences, myself included, wanting. For starters, Aladdin is wearing a shirt which, we’ve collectively decided, is simply homophobic. The entire shoot looked a little cheap, a little Power Rangers reboot - a coincidence as Naomi Scott appeared in that nostalgia piece as well. And finally, the genie was not only not his traditional shade of blue, instead he had what appeared to be a particularly phallic ponytail. Nothing especially magical about that. The only saving grace of this shoot was, of course, hot Jafar. Where was carpet, where was the magic, where was that Disney budget, glossing this up. Things were looking, if not dreadful then well, a little cheap.

Next came an extended trailer, watch it here:

This is when things got really scary, like, giant python scary.

Everything was basically the same as the original teaser only here we got our first look at the genie in all his cerulean glory and well… it was weird? The animation was wonky, the motion capture ineffective. The whole thing looked really off, which meant the genie’s movement was stiff and disconcerting. His face looked like a bad photoshop. The whole thing was ringing very early 2000s computer animation. That is to say… naff. I think it’s safe to say the world was concerned. Is this what they were going to make of our childhoods? Of the legacy that Robin Williams left behind? Seriously, I was kept awake many an Arabian night.

Luckily, I didn’t need to use any of my three wishes for my fears to be quelled. Disney has released a full length trailer and it’s one jump ahead of the last.

Here’s a quick run down… We open with Aladdin being chased through the streets of Agrabah, which will assumably be part of the song ‘One Jump Ahead,’ before we see him lay eyes on Jasmine for the first time. There’s a shot of hot Jafar, from behind in, I assume, his lair which ticked a lot of nostalgia buttons. We head into the cave of wonders and here we get to see the genie popping out of that lamp and this time it looks goooooooooooood… Things speed up a bit from there, with a taste of Will Smith’s version of ‘Friend Like Me’, Carpet is here and he’s fabulous, there’s some quipping about what ‘make me a prince’ can mean… ‘Y’all see my palace?’ We see Prince Ali arriving in Agrabah and the Palace and it all looks great. Then that famous line: ‘do you trust me?’ Before Aladdin and Jasmine are whisked off to a whole new world. The singing is en pointe, the graphics, although somewhat cartoony, are actually banging, intentionally stylised perhaps, I like them. A few quick shots and we get a taste of the increased action levels in the film: from the cave of wonders exploding, to Aladdin flipping about in the icy tundra. There’s a great shot of hot Jafar, I assume, using his powers, towards the film’s climax, and a shot of Jasmine, which is probably from the musical number they’ve added for her. And then possibly the most shocking new addition… GIANT IAGO! Like, what? I have no idea how this is going to fit in, when this will happen, or if Gilbert Godfrey is going to be bellowing ‘Polly want a cracker?!’ during this chase but I’m kind of excited. (*Alan Tudyk is actually voicing Iago in this iteration but that means he’s still going to speak, so who knows!?)

This is part of what makes Aladdin such an exciting prospect for translation into live action. The magic, the action, there’s stuff to mine here. Stuff to add which will work next to the more familiar elements and things to expand upon.  

Guy Ritchie has said, in regards to the music: ‘Clearly people are very attached to the original songs and clearly that’s part of the DNA, so we didn’t really want to stray from the original stuff, just an embellishment with a couple of new tracks.’ So, if we extrapolate that to the rest of the film this should be a fairly faithful adaptation, with some extra sugar dates and pistachios thrown in!

Finally, I’m geared up for this film. The new trailer is right on, it’s banging and any fears I had about this film have been assuaged. It’s got me feeling all kinds of ways about my childhood and I’m back to being excited. Still, it was rocky territory for a moment there. It would have been painful to have to unfriend a friend like Aladdin.

Oh also, they’ve released this poster which reeks of the original film in the best way possible…

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