And You Thought It Would Fail: Upon learning that Will Smith was the Genie, many people were quick to comment that he would just be a shallow parody of Robin Williams. When the film came out, fans and critics were quick to praise that Will's own portrayal stood out on its own when he didn't try to imitate Robin William's antics, and the film ended up a significant box office success.
Anti-Climax Boss: In contrast to turning into a snake and causing all sorts of mayhem in the palace before he gets tricked into becoming a genie, Jafar here seems to get outsmarted much quicker.
Criticisms over the casting of the non-Arab Naomi Scott as Jasmine are at least partly addressed by the fact that this version of Jasmine is mixed race, with her mother having come from an Indian-inspired country.
Some highly contentious (and even previously edited) lyrics from the original were outright removed and replaced for this version, with Arabian Nights being altered from Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense; its barbaric, but, hey, its home! to the much more benign Where you wander among every culture and tongue; its chaotic, but hey, its home. The lyrics of Prince Ali were also changed from Hes got slaves, hes got servants and flunkies to Hes got 10,000 servants and flunkies.
Base-Breaking Character: Out of all the cast, Marwan Kenzari and Alan Tudyk's respective portrayals of Jafar and Iago are probably the most divisive. A lot of fans lamented that Iago is a normal parrot with limited speech as opposed to his wisecracking animated counterpart who is fully anthropomorphic. In regard to Jafar, fans felt this version lacked the character's flair and hamminess which made him entertaining and memorable in the first place. Here, Jafar's personality is a lot more serious and reserved which made him stand out less. Defenders, however, point out that portraying Jafar like his animated counterpart would be too out of place, especially since it is difficult for the expressive energy that animation could provide such as facial expressions to translate into live-action without coming off as Narmy.
Naomi Scott's casting as Jasmine. At the time it was announced, there was a lot of backlash for an actress without Arab heritage being chosen to play the role, and the film was accused of whitewashing (yes, despite Naomi not being white); the fact that Jasmine was Disney's first animated princess of colour to be adapted for live-action and ended up being played by an actress who is half white did not go unnoticed. And there were those who saw it as treating Arab and Indian culture as Interchangeable Asian Cultures. But once the film came out, a large number of defenders sprung up who claimed that Naomi was perfectly cast, with killer chemistry alongside Mena Massoud and nailing the song "Speechless". Others also point out that she is still a woman of colour getting to be the lead in a blockbuster film (and say that anger should be directed at the casting system rather than the actress herself), and that the Arabian Nights where the Aladdin story originated did take some sources from Indian folktales (Once Upon a Time cast several Indian actors in their interpretation of Agrabah). The argument is quite contentious.
Common Knowledge: Some viewers and critics are still considering it a plot hole that Aladdin touches some of treasures in the Cave of Wonders when he was apparently warned not to, including it in reviews and on IMDb. This is despite that the original film's rule of "Touch nothing but the lamp" was replaced with "Take nothing but the lamp" in the remake, specifically to get around this plot hole.
Complete Monster: Jafar, the Grand Vizier, is much worse here than in the original animated film. Seeking the Genie's lamp, Jafar attempts to send several prisoners into the Cave of Wonders to retrieve it, resulting in one of the prisoners being killed. Jafar then kills one of his own guards for calling him "second". When Aladdin retrieves the lamp for Jafar, the latter coldly leaves the former to die in the cave, and later throws him into the ocean when he returns as Prince Ali. Upon retrieving the lamp, Jafar becomes Sultan of Agrabah and a powerful sorcerer, sending Aladdin to a wasteland to die a slow and painful death. He then painfully tortures the Sultan to force Jasmine to marry him just to spite her and the Sultan. When Jasmine and Aladdin steal the lamp from him he attacks them with a giant Iago and a twister, endangering civilians and destroying the Magic Carpet in the process. Upon retrieving the lamp, Jafar declares his intent to conquer several neighboring kingdoms in order to build himself a mighty empire and starts painfully torturing Aladdin too. Upon transforming into a Genie, Jafar attempts to destroy Shirabad and spitefully drags Iago into the lamp with him when imprisoned.
Creator's Pet: One of the first announced projects for Disney+ post-release was a spin-off about Prince Anders, baffling everyone on who could have possibly been asking for a whole show about the movie's one white guy who was in just two scenes. Making it even worse is that Disney apparently thought that just a few days after Mena Massoud discussed how he hadn't had so much as a single audition since playing the lead role in a billion dollar film was the perfect time to announce this.
Critical Dissonance: The film currently holds a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics while the audience score is a much higher score of 92%. Disney was quick to note also that this score came from a new metric on Rotten Tomatoes which verifies that it's made up of people who actually bought a ticket to the movie.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Dalia is very popular not just among this film but all the Disney live action remakes, as a newly invented character who affects the story on more than just a surface level and thus leaves just as much of an impression as the people everyone came to see, which is further solidified by Nasim Pedrad's Adorkable performance and chemistry with both Jasmine and Genie.
Fanfic Fuel: There's an increased emphasis on Agrabah's diplomatic relations with other kingdoms, bringing up the question of just what those other kingdoms are like, especially with Jasmine's mother coming from one, and maybe even sending more envoys to the likes of Corona and Arendelle.
For those aware of the fact that in the original story this film (and the animated adaptation) is based on, there were 2 Geniesnote one from the lamp and one from a ring; both help Aladdin throughout the story, it's very easy to imagine a version of the film where both Robin Williams's Genie and Will Smith's Genie serve Aladdin.
Fanon: The remake explains that Jasmine's Missing Mom was killed at some point before the events of the movie. Given Jafar's vehement hatred for Shirabad, the kingdom where Jasmine's mother came from, a popular theory has been circulating around the internet that Jafar may have been the one responsible.
Fans Prefer the New Her: Aladdin's makeover into Prince Ali is meant to show him as a pompous dolt who needs to stop acting like royalty and just be himself, but the Prince Ali costume is much more appealing than his peasant garb. The shorter haircut as 'Ali' is more flattering too, though he does keep that once he's back as Aladdin.
Aladdin and Genie have just as much, if not more so than the original, due to Genie being much more humanoid here. It's a big moment when Genie calls Aladdin his friend, in the same scene tells him he's "breaking my heart", and the climax has a very long hug between them.
Jasmine and Dalia have a bit of Les Yay too. There's one scene where they're literally lying in bed together (well, on the bed) - and Jasmine even seems more worried for Dalia's safety than her own father's when Jafar starts abusing them. There's also Dalia's Big "NO!" at the idea of Jasmine marrying Jafar.
Just Here for Godzilla: A significant portion of viewers had little to no interest in seeing the movie except for seeing how Will Smith's Genie measured up to the legendary Robin Williams. Despite many people's early trepidation, the praise Smith eventually received for his performance has led many people to call him mostly the only reason to see the movie.
The full trailer's focus on the Genie helping Aladdin romance Jasmine led to a lot of jokes that the movie is actually a remake of Hitch.
"This! Is! AGRABAH!" note After one of his minions tells Jafar that his power is second only to the Sultan Jafar proceeds to kick said minion down a dark well very much like Leonidas in 300.
The much slower tempo of "Prince Ali" has led to lots of people on YouTube telling others to play the song at 1.25x speed to get a tempo closer to the original.
Try to find a video for the remake's take on the song that doesn't have at least one comment mentioning the line, "Heard your princess was HOT, where is she?"
Moral Event Horizon: Jafar has this as an Establishing Character Moment where he forces a man at swordpoint to enter the Cave of Wonders, where at least the man's counterpart in the 1992 film entered willingly. Then he kills a servant for accidentally insulting him, and finally leaves Aladdin for dead in the Cave of Wonders. While it's not as dark as him attempting to kill him in the animated film, it's still very brutal, physically assaulting Aladdin with his foot to drop him directly.
Aladdin's screaming expression as the scene where he falls down into the ocean suddenly goes into slow motion can come off as very unintentionally comical.
Jafar's Evil Laugh. There's a reason he doesn't do it often compared to his animated counterpart, as it sounds incredibly forced and cheesy, both when he first calls Genie from his lamp and again as he's being transformed into a Genie himself.
The giant Iago, which replaces snake!Jafar from the original film. It's really hard to make a beloved character like Iago look threatening, even a giant, evil version.
While Jasmine's "Speechless" is a powerful song, the fact it's sung entirely in her head makes the whole thing rather silly given it's a song about not "going quiet".
The 2019 Aladdin is directed by Guy Ritchie, a British film-maker, and has attracted controversy for its casting of non-Arab actors and an African-American as Arab characters as well as its removal of animal companions. Once Upon a Time also presented Agrabah as a melting pot of various Middle-Eastern and Asian cultures. For example Jafar was first played by Naveen Andrews who is Indian and later replaced by Israeli actor Oded Fehr. Aladdin was played by an actor with Turkish ancestry, and Jasmine by an Indian-Chinese actress. Other cast members were of Indian ancestry or else Mexican in the case of Peter Gadiot.
It's also worth noting that the original animated film was a messy hodgepodge of cultures (with the source tale being set in China, but the film's location being inspired by the Middle East, yet still featuring abundant South Asian customs as well as some plainly North American humor or language). In some ways, the 2019 remake handles cultures a smidge better: Jasmine's mother is from another land that's implied to take after India (and Jasmine's actress is half-Indian); and her clothing is, aptly, much more ornate, rather than the animated Jasmine's more austere, but culturally perplexing costume. (It should be said that many South Asian fans criticize 2019 Jasmine's clothes for the execution, nonetheless.)
The first preview of Will Smith's Genie in his human form received a large amount of criticism for not being an animated figure despite the fact that every major live-action adaptation of Aladdin before this film, namely the Broadway and Disneyland stage show versions, featured a human Genie.
In the trailer, Jafar can be seen recruiting Aladdin as himself instead of disguised as an old man. Anyone who saw the stage musical will recognize this.
Tainted by the Preview: The Special Look trailer has been very negatively received across the board, racking up 80 thousand dislikes within a day after being released. Generally, it has been criticized for being poorly put together with some calling it a fake trailer, but the specific points of contention were:
The reveal of Genie in blue was met with cries of "kill it with fire!!" from a number of people. Before the trailer's release, he was shown in human form, which drew derision across social media with doing comparisons to Kazaam and Goro, if not just editing Smith to have blue skin. Once his blue form was revealed, it was nothing like people expected because of the bulky disproportionate CGI body with Will Smith's head on top of it.
The "Prince Ali" number hasn't gone over well with audiences. The animated version (especially the Genie's moments) was known for being very frenetic, which the live-action version makes little effort to capture. Will Smith's singing voice sounds monotone, the performers and attendants aren't given enough focus, and the camera angles are fairly generic. It's also done at a much slower tempo (leading to many quips of "play it at 1.25x playback speednote when watching on YouTube to get the proper tempo"). Even if you excuse the lack of special effects as being the result of this being a work in progress, it doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in the final product.
Jafar's snake form is also Adapted Out. The climactic battle instead has him transform Iago into a giant bird to pursue the heroes, which many fans didn't find as threatening as Jafar's snake form.
Many also weren't pleased with Iago being turned into a "normal" parrot who barely speaks and is lacking in much of the personality he had in the original film and its sequels; with most also dubbing it a waste of Alan Tudyk's talents. Gilbert Gottfried was reportedly annoyed that he wasn't asked to reprise his role, in light of Frank Welker doing the same and James Earl Jones coming back to voice Mufasa in The Lion King remake.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Early in the movie its mentioned that Jasmines mother, the queen, was killed. Given those exact words, the queen could have died in an accident, or murdered and maybe Jafar had something do with it, but this isnt touched on.
Many critical reviews have compared the film unfavorably to the original animated film, which was one of the best-received entries in the Disney Animated Canon. This is even acknowledged in the Rotten Tomatoes critics' consensus for the film:
Aladdin retells its classic source material's story with sufficient spectacle and skill, even if it never approaches the dazzling splendor of the animated original.
Will Smith had big shoes to fill in as the Genie given how Robin William's performance was considered so iconic and endearing. To a lesser extent, he also had to follow in the footsteps of James Monroe Iglehart, who won a Tony Award for portraying a human Genie in the long-running Broadway adaptation. Fortunately, Smith's performance was widely praised for putting his own spin on the portrayal of the Genie as a wisecracking dating coach (something he isn't stranger to) instead of shallowly imitating Williams and Iglehart.
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar and Alan Tudyk as Iago also suffer from this trope, considering they're portraying two of the most iconic Disney villains. While Jonathan Freeman was hammy and colorful, and Gilbert Gottfried gave a fun and snarky edge to his character, the 2019 versions lack the charisma that the 1992 versions excelled at giving off. Needless to say, though there's nothing technically wrong with Marwan and Alan and the two of them do decently enough, the original performances are sorely missed.
Will Smith as the Genie in blue form looks very disconcerting◊ to some people due to looking like a CGI creature with his face slapped on it. Even more so in motion◊. Much of the off-putting effect stems from director Guy Ritchie wanting the genie to have a photorealistic "70s dad bod" that doesn't match up with Will Smith's head, as while Smith is very fit and muscular, he doesn't have the brawny body, thick neck and large chin that the Genie has always been depicted with. Thankfully, he's more often seen in his regular-colored human form, which looks a lot more natural due to the lack of CGI.
Jafar as a genie. The way he's animated is even WORSE then Will Smith's genie due to being fully CG rather than a CG body with the head digitally added on.
One thing that is agreeable is that the Magic Carpet looks dandy in live-action.
The Friend Like Me sequence is as close as we've ever gotten to a Disney song sequence come to life.
What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The villain is obsessed with turning Agrabah into a militaristic country with heavily defended borders, and is opposed by a woman struggling to break into a highly sexist system that expects her to simply look pretty and say nothing. A few viewers thought that this was inspired by America's political situation at the time of release.
Win Back the Crowd: After both the Teaser and the Special Look failed to wow audiences, especially with the terrible Genie, the first official Trailer won back many naysayers, especially towards Will Smith, who now think he's at least adequate to succeed Robin Williams. The first glimpse of Genie was also not the best example of how he would look, and later trailers showed cleaner visual effects and a more faithful style of Genie's powers. Plus, the fact that it ends with a clip of the new version of "A Whole New World" (accentuated by an orchestra and drums that are not in the final theatrical film) certainly helps.
Woolseyism: When Aladdin asks Jasmine why she's repeating everything he says, the Swedish subtitles read "Is it echoing here?"
Casting the Anglo-Indian (and completely non-Arab) Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine has attracted controversy, with many criticizing it as being racistandcolorist, given that Jasmine is obviously darker-skinned in the original (as well as in Ralph Breaks the Internet).
Will Smith as Genie. Not so much for the race issue (although some would've preferred to have an actual Arabian actor portraying a creature of Arabian mythologynote There is some logic here though, as the typical djinn had pitch black skin and was commonly believed to have originated from Egyptian or African wizards venturing into Arab nations, not to mention alleged hypocrisy on the part of viewers who took issue with Jasmine's Race Lift and the Unfortunate Implications of casting a black man to play a character who is essentially a slave), but because he seems unusual and too ill-suited or strange a choice to play the Genie. While Smith has starred in plenty of comedies, he's not really that similar to Robin Williams' characters, who were the inspiration for most of Genie's quips. Smith's musical talent may help out though, given his singing career before going into acting. Also, since Williams' performance would be a Tough Act to Follow for anybody, casting someone who has a distinctly different yet still-outsized, charismatic persona and can approach the character from a fresh direction might be the best choice under the circumstances to downplay comparisons. It then didn't help when the preview pics came out showing a human Genie (simply Smith bald and with a ponytail) that he himself had to assure would only briefly look that way, but otherwise primarily be blue and CGI. Fortunately for Smith, his performance was well-received even by the film's harshest critics.
Marwan Kenzari as Jafar. While most fans are willing to accept the Age Lift, some feel that his performance lacks the charisma and menace that the original Jafar had on display, and that his voice sounds rather jarringly high-pitched and almost effeminate in contrast to Jonathan Freeman's deep and powerful voice from the original. Moreover, some fans felt that Numan Acar who portrayed Hakim would have been a more accepting casting choice given that he resembles traditional Jafar from the animation.
Alan Tudyk as Iago. In contrast to the original, this version of the character barely speaks and when he does, its often just stock phrases or stating the obvious, lacking the comical bad temper Gilbert Gottfried gave him that made the character so memorable. Overall, while Tudyk's performance wasn't necessarily bad given his experience and talent as a voice actor, it wasn't as iconic or memorable as Gottfried's depiction or Tudyk's other roles.