standard Will Smith’s Genie In The Live Action Aladdin Is Not The Movie’s Biggest Problem

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The Disney live-action remake trend continues with one of the greatest animated classics, Aladdin. The first look images the movie showcase a problem that’s somehow worse than the Genie.

Disney has been on a trend of remaking their animated classics with live action versions. Aladdin is the latest animated movie to get this treatment, with some pretty interesting names attached. The movie is being directed by Guy Ritchie, and even though that seems like an odd choice, it’s the first of many for this remake.

An Entertainment Weekly exclusive story sees brand new images from the movie, and they’re quite something. First and foremost, let me say that Guy Ritchie as this film’s director is not concerning. The man is known for amazing chase sequences that utilize the entire landscape of its setting, which is also a staple concept in Aladdin’s world building.

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When the film was announced, there was a lot of speculation about whether Will Smith’s Genie would be entirely CGI or even maybe motion captured. However, these images reveal that Smith is going to be playing the famous animated character, as himself. And honestly, I don’t mind. While it’s made clear that there will be some CGI elements to this Genie, effects which aren’t finished yet, according to the article, Smith will be the default look for the character. When you think back to the obnoxious humor that Smith played the Fresh Prince as it seems like an appropriate fit. And to be honest, the Genie is the last thing I’m worried about from Aladdin at this point.

Where I do get a little concerned, is when the Arabian Genie, played by an African-American actor, is browner than its lead actors, who are of South Asian and Egyptian descent. Now, director Ritchie and Disney faced some controversy during early stages of the production for brown facing some of the extras. However, they have taken care to cast actors of descent and heritage close to the fictional characters from the animated classic. They did the best they could. But it’s still weird.

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Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Mena Massoud as Aladdin

Naomi Scott, an actress most notable for Power Rangers, and the upcoming Charlie’s Angel reboot plays Jasmine in this adaptation. Scott herself is a British-Indian actress from the UK. Indian on her mother’s side, Scott is a very good actress, who doesn’t look at all Indian. Makes me wonder if there’s something to be said of representation there when the actor playing the character can pass for a different ethnicity altogether?

Coming to the titular Aladdin himself, Canadian actor Mena Masoud of Egyptian descent has been last seen in Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan series. The actor has more experience, having starred in many Canadian shows, and is definitely representative of the diverse cast that Aladdin is comprised of. While some have an issue with his wardrobe, the actor has worked extensively for the song and fight sequences of the film.

While there is definitely a lot to be said about representation, I’m not sure what the conversation around Aladdin should be. Taking nothing away from the actors’ talent and abilities, it feels like casting actors who are of a background representative of the characters they’re playing, while being visually ambiguous, seem like a safe choice for the studio to cover all bases of representation?

In the meantime, I’m definitely willing to believe in Aladdin and Guy Ritchie’s vision and suspend my criticism until I’ve seen the movie in all its glory. I trust Guy Ritchie enough to let him present his vision of this beloved story, before getting snarky and mean like the rest of the internet seems hell-bent on doing.

What did you think about these new images from Aladdin? Let us know in the comments below.

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