When it comes to the list of sentences I never thought I would ever type in my life, I can now add another one: It’s being reported that Disney has tapped Guy Ritchie to direct their upcoming live-action feature film remake of Aladdin. Yes, that Guy Ritchie.
The English filmmaker is of course most well known for writing/directing snappy British gangster classics like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, and also the two stylish Robert Downey Jr. led Sherlock Holmes movies, none of which exactly bring to mind images of flying carpets and romantic songs about whole new worlds. But according to THR, Disney is looking to make this “an ambitious and non-traditional take on Aladdin”. Yep, I guess Ritchie will do that.
For the seven of you out there that don’t know the 1992 classic animated film, Aladdin was based on a classic Middle Eastern-set folk tale and told of the titular young man, a poor street urchin who dreams of the beautiful princess Jasmine, who gets all he ever wanted when he discovers a magic lamp with a genie inside who can grant him three impossible wishes. Unfortunately for Aladdin, with the fame, fortune and romance that comes with the wishes, also comes the covetous attention the evil sorcerer Jaffar who wants the magical lamp for himself.
The movie featured the late Robin Williams in the role of the kooky Genie, which would go on to become one of the legendary comedian’s most beloved roles. Besides for the fan love, Aladdin would be the highest grossing film of that year and also go on to win two Oscars for Best Score and Best Song, with the latter for the film’s signature song “A Whole New World” sung by Aladdin and Princess Jasmine voice actors Brad Kane and Lea Salonga. A different version of the song would be recorded and released by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle and would go on to spend a record 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that music was pretty important in the original animated movie, and THR reports that this new version “will keep many of the musical elements of the original”. Things are being tweaked a bit more to Ritchie’s filmmaking style though, as the script from screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dark Shadows) will apparently take a non-linear approach to the story, so expect a lot of narrative jumping.
One aspect that isn’t clear right now is how Disney will be tackling the character of Genie. Besides for just the technical hurdles of recreating that iconic look in a live-action production, anybody who takes on that character next will have some gigantic shoes to fill, as Robin Williams’ voice and personality has become synonymous with the big blue goofball. Also of interest is that on Disney’s massive slate of future live-action feature films is Genies, which supposedly deal with these wish-granting spirits and how they end up stuck in lamps. It’s unclear if there will be some kind of link between the two movies.
I have to admit, that as unexpected as this news is, I’m really intrigued by it. I especially can’t wait for Jaffar to sit Aladdin down with a cup of tea and explain to him what “nemesis” means.
Last Updated: October 11, 2016