The Aladdin remake will be flying into theaters soon. This will be Disney’s third version of this popular story, including the 2014 Broadway musical. So how does it compare to its predecessors? Let’s find out.
NOTE: Aladdin article contains SPOILERS.
In the animated film, Aladdin has a monkey pal named Abu and an anthropomorphized magic carpet. Princess Jasmine has a pet tiger named Rajah.
In the musical, Aladdin has a magic carpet but it does not high-five. It mainly has one big moment — and you can guess what that is. Abu is missing from the stage version. One can imagine how difficult it would be to train a small monkey for this part. Or how ridiculous a man in a monkey costume might look playing the role! Similarly, Jasmine does not get her tiger. However, Aladdin does get three new human friends named Babkak, Omar, and Kassim who provide plenty of comic relief.
In the live action movie, Rajah appears to be back. And I’ve seen Abu and the magic carpet interacting with each other briefly in one promo.
Sadly, Babkak, Omar, and Kassim were not included in the new film.
New Characters in Aladdin
The live action remake introduces two significant new characters not found in the musical or the animated film. One is Dalia, Princess Jasmine’s loyal handmaiden and confidante, who provides some comic relief. The other is Prince Anders, a suitor and potential husband (yeah, right) for Jasmine from the kingdom of Skånland.
Iago – Jafar’s Henchman
Jafar’s loud parrot henchman, an audience favorite, was voiced by Gilbert Gottfried in the original film.
On Broadway, the role of Iago was originated by Don Darryl Rivera, and Iago is not a parrot but a human being. He is still Jafar’s henchman.
In the new movie, Iago is a parrot again. However, the character is voiced by Alan Tudyk. It’s the first time the character has been voiced by someone other than Gottfried, who has been the voice of Iago since 1992. Gottfried has voiced the character in movies, TV shows, video games, and even in a Disney World attraction.
Robin Williams played the Genie in the animated film in one of his most beloved roles of all time. Williams was already like a living cartoon character, and now he got to be one. The medium was the perfect vehicle for his manic energy and his gift for impersonation.
On stage, the song “Friend Like Me” remains a showstopper — even with a live human being who only has the benefit of stage magic and back-up dancers. (The televised Tony performance does not do justice to the effect of the full set and stage effects.) The actor does not wear blue paint on their body (think Elphaba in Wicked), but has a flashy blue outfit on instead. He does not try to be Robin Williams because no one can replicate that performance. Rather, he puts his own spin on the character and finds his own way to make the Genie charming and larger than life.
Will Smith’s Genie is a mix of live-action and CGI and is even blue for part of the movie. He is able to do things that can’t be done on stage — closer to the animated version. It will be fun to see what the filmmakers do with this new version of the Genie that exists between live action and animation.
The Music of Aladdin
The original animated film is famous for the romantic ballad “A Whole New World” and the humorous “Friend Like Me.” These are both previewed in the trailer for the new film, and footage has been released of Will Smith singing “Prince Ali.”
The track list for the new movie has not been released yet. However, it’s safe to assume that most (if not all) of the songs from the original film will be reappear in the new one, including opening number “Arabian Nights” and “One Jump Ahead”.
The Broadway show contains these same songs, but also some new numbers, including “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” about the main character and his three troublemaker buddies.
Other New Songs from the Musical Include:
“Proud of Your Boy” (sung by Aladdin)
“A Million Miles Away” (sung by Aladdin and Jasmine )
“Diamond in the Rough” (sung by Jafar to convince Aladdin to get the lamp)
“High Adventure” (sung by Babkak, Omar, and Kasim)
“Somebody’s Got Your Back” (sung by Aladdin to his friends)
The Cave of Wonders
(Note: From this point on, I am mostly comparing the animated film and the Broadway musical. I have not been able to see the new movie yet, and there is still an embargo on reviews.)
In the animated version, Jafar seeks the lamp at the Cave of Wonders and is told only a diamond in the rough may enter, at the beginning of the film. In the musical, this happens later in Act I after the audience has already met Aladdin and Jasmine.
In both versions, Jafar figures out Aladdin is the diamond in the rough, and Aladdin is captured by the palace guards after meeting Jasmine. Jafar uses him to try to get the lamp. In the movie, Jafar disguises himself as an old man, and frees Aladdin and Abu before taking them to the cave. In the musical, Jafar keeps his original form and stops Aladdin from being executed.
In both versions, Aladdin is instructed to touch nothing but the lamp.
In the movie, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and Abu takes a jewel in addition to the lamp. Aladdin and Abu rush to fly out of the collapsing cave on the carpet. They give the lamp to Jafar, who pushes them back into the cave, but not before Abu steals the lamp back. In the musical, Aladdin is tempted to take some golden coins along with the lamp, and is trapped when the cave seals itself off.
In all three versions, this is when Aladdin rubs the lamp, meets the Genie, and Genie sings “Friend Like Me” by way of introduction. Aladdin then tricks Genie into freeing him from the cave without using up one of his wishes.
In both versions of the story, Jasmine escapes from the palace and visits Agrabah in disguise, where she meets Aladdin. This is where the story begins. Aladdin’s first wish, even in the trailer for the newest movie, is to become a prince so that he can woo the princess. (“There’s a lot of gray area in ‘Make me a prince.’”) Act II of the musical begins with “Prince Ali” — in which Genie and Aladdin’s three besties lead a parade announcing his arrival.
It’s one of the highlights of the animated film as well, minus his friends. In both versions, Jasmine is angry when she overhears Prince Ali discussing her future with the Sultan. He makes it up to her with a magic carpet ride and one of the most romantic songs in Disney history (“A Whole New World”). Only then does Jasmine recognize him as Aladdin. He lies and says he only dresses as a peasant to get away from everything, like she does.
Aladdin’s first wish is always to be a prince and he always promises Genie his last wish will be to set Genie free. In both the animated and musical versions, Aladdin is captured by the palace guards immediately following the romantic interlude. In the animated film, he is thrown into the sea. Genie decides that the unconscious Aladdin would want to use his second wish to be saved and rescues him.
In the musical, Aladdin is arrested for impropriety. His three buddies storm the castle to rescue him..and end up in the dungeon as well. Aladdin uses his second wish to rescue them. Aladdin meets the Sultan in the hall and he gives Aladdin his blessing to marry Jasmine. Overwhelmed at the responsibility of being Sultan one day, Aladdin goes back on his word, telling Genie he needs to save his last wish in case he needs it someday. In the movie, Aladdin also refuses to free Genie, fearing he’ll lose Jasmine if the truth comes out.
In both versions, Jafar steals the lamp and becomes Genie’s new master. Aladdin tricks Jafar into wishing to become an all-powerful Genie, and then traps him in the lamp.
In the movie, Genie encourages Aladdin to use his final wish to regain his royal title so he can be with Jasmine. However, Aladdin sets Genie free instead. The Sultan, seeing the nobility in Aladdin, then proclaims that the princess can marry whoever she wants.
In the musical, Aladdin sets Genie free, saying he can’t pretend to be someone he’s not. The Sultan decrees the princess can marry whoever she wants. Aladdin’s buddies are made royal advisers.
Final Aladdin Thoughts
There are a few ways the new movie may stand apart from its predecessors. With Guy Ritchie directing (Snatch, Sherlock Holmes, Lock Stock), this is supposed to be the most action-packed version of Aladdin we’ve seen so far.
Early rumors were that the story is supposed to be told non-linearly, which would also fit with Ritchie’s style.
Princess Jasmine gets more of a narrative arc. Actress Naomi Scott told Reuters, “[Jasmine] finds her voice and she goes through a journey to find it. …I want little girls to see that.” Some viewers have complained the film is about twenty minutes or so too long. It is a half hour longer than the animated film, and does not have an intermission like the musical.
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