Film Review: ALADDIN (USA 2019)

Aladdin Poster
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.

Director:

Guy Ritchie

Writers:

John August (screenplay by), Guy Ritchie (screenplay by)

Disney takes a risk at hiring British writer/director Guy Ritchie for their live action remake of their classic animated ALADDIN with Robin Williams as the genie.   

ALADDIN is a Persian tale from the 1001 Arabian Nights stories, but the film somehow comes across as mixed Bollywood (Indian) , which is really strange considering that most of the actors are from Iran or Egypt.  It does to help that the dance sequences where the actors ham it up during the closing credits looks typical from a Bollywood musical.

What is expected from an Arabian Nights film is provided with no surprises.  There is a chase through a busy bazaar, a villain who wishes to usurp the throne, a King who wants to marry his daughter to a prince, unsuitable suitors, a poor beggar who turns up to be the handsome prince and so on.

Aladdin is a street thief in the city of Agrabah who falls for the princess who is never allowed out of the palace grounds.  The King fears for her safety.  The villain of the piece wants the throne and knows of the existence of the lamp and the genie.  Aladdin finds the lamp and the genie grants him three wishes.  The genie wants to be free and this would be Aladdin’s last wish: to free the genie.  In the meantime, there is the boring romantic affair between Aladdin and the princess amidst some dancing and silly songs, with some fight scenes included.  It also feels that director Ritchie is looking for any excuse to insert his special effects action sequences.

The two young leads Mean Massoud (a Canadian with Egyptian background) and Naomi Scott (British) as Princess Jasmine are quite the perfectly looking couple.  Marwan Kenzari Marwan Kenzari fares better as the conniving villain Jafar, the nefarious and deceptive sorcerer, and Grand Vizier Agrabah and the Sultan’s chief advisor whose name precedes him.

ALADDIN is here a musical, with songs that are indistinguishable from one another.  The film has nothing new up in terms of tricks or story.  The supposedly plot twist in tricking the villain with his last genie wish does not make any sense if one considers the logic behind the reasoning.  The addition of the new character, Prince Anders (Billy Magnussen) – the foreign suitor from Skanland is as ridiculous as his character.  ALADDIN comes more than a predictable romantic comedy which lasts two hours – too long for a typical rom com.  The part with the Will Smith telling a fable on a ship to his two children is also totally predictable from the start where the story was leading to.  The magic of ALADDIN is truly gone.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foyufD52aog

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Film Review: Power Rangers (2017)

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power_rangers.jpgDirector: Dean Israelite
Writers: John Gatins (screenplay), Matt Sazama (story by)
Stars: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler

Review by Gilbert Seah

Danger! Danger! Really bad and tacky opening sequence that is a forewarning of worst things to come! The film opens with a confrontation fight between two enemies, Zoltand and (yes, ridiculously named) Rita on the planet Earth before a meteor strikes. Voiceover informs that this is the Cenazora Era – whatever that means. Something is buried which, the audience can guess will be uncovered at the present time. All of what just occurred is a warning that the next 124 minutes of running time will be devoted to stupidity. The third POWER RANGERS film, which is actually a reboot by South African director Dean Israelite is an exercise in stupidity – in story, plot, action sequences and characterization. But the film, based on the successful TV series of the same name, is occasionally stupid fun!

The first POWER RANGERS film, MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE in 1995 made lots but the second, made two years later, TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE flopped. Director Israelite has said that his new $100 million version will be more edgy, down-to-earth and deal with more human issues. Israelite who became famous with his found-footage film PROJECT ALMANAC shows the same tactic with his camera placed within the car that is being chased at the start of the film. The resulting jittery screen does not really do anything much in terms of excitement for the car chase. In fact, a better effect was created with the camera on he dashboard of the car in the bank robbery escape scene in David MacKenzie’s HELL OR HIGH WATER.

The story follows five teens with attitude (Israelite’s more human characters??) are inexplicably brought together by coincidence or destiny to become the newest generation in a line of warriors known as the Power Rangers. The world rests in their hands as Rita Repulsa (Elizabeth Banks), a powerful witch and former Power Ranger, launches an assault seeking the Zeo Crystal with an army of stone golems called Putties and a giant golden monster called Goldar.

Five is a number too large. The film has to give screen time to each power ranger, with boredom setting in as quickly as an unfunny joke falls flat. The leader is a disgraced football player, Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) who steals a bull at the start of the film. The other members are an assortment of different races and disabilities so obviously political correct that the entire enterprise looks downright silly. There is the autistic Afro-American (two in one), Billy Cranston (RJ Cyler), the gay Trini (Becky G), the asian Zack (Ludi Lin) looking after his bed-ridden mother and Kimberly (Naomi Scott) the only other white power ranger.

The special effects and action sequences are cheesy if not tacky. It would just as well to see actors in monster costumes fighting each other. The humour is awful and unfunny. Most of the acting is terrible as well. The high school kids are played by actors over twenty. In fact, Ludi Lin is around 30 years of age. Elizabeth Banks, hardly recognizable in heavy make-up and skimpy outfit, at leasts knows how to camp up her villainous character.

POWER RANGERS is obviously aimed at a kids audience. But children’s films could be really funny and entertain adults as well, as in films like the SHREK and the recent BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. POWER RANGERS is just plain awful and boring from start to end. This one competes with MONSTER TRUCKS as the worst imagined and executed film project this year.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8ezPMcnnyY

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