Entertainment Weekly has a first look at the live-action Aladdin coming from Guy Ritchie in 2019 and it looks fine. It looks like a big budget movie with elaborate sets and costumes, and human people who will talk and sing. As this is a Guy Ritchie movie, I expect the “Street Rat” sequence, featured in a still photo here, will be hyperkinetic. Guy Ritchie directing a live-action musical Aladdin is my worst nightmare, but that one sequence will probably be cool. As for Aladdin himself, Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud won the role after a long-ass search. He looks fine. Naomi Scott as Jasmine looks fine. Nasim Pedrad as Jasmine’s made-up best friend looks fine. Will Smith as the Genie looks fine. It all looks very fine.
You know who looks more than fine? HOT JAFAR. This is now my principle interest in this movie (well, Hot Jafar and finding out if Aladdin will have nipples this time. SHOW US THE NIPS, YOU COWARDS). Jafar is played by Marwan Kenzari, who has been christened #HotJafar. Look at him. How am I supposed to root for that punk Aladdin when #HotJafar is strutting around, looking like that? Although his photo is missing Iago. Where is Iago? Apparently, Iago and Rajah the tiger will only appear in “some capacity”. What? Iago might not be a full character? OUTRAGEOUS. You can make entire goddamn movies with photo-real animals, but you can’t crap out one talking parrot for Aladdin? Justice for Iago!
Before we get completely carried away, though, it must be noted another omission from these photos is “Prince Anders”, a new character written just for this movie, an obvious “it’s okay, white people, you’re still here, too” insert for audiences who might be, I don’t know, lost and confused watching a movie that doesn’t star white people. This kind of thinking from studios just looks worse and more craven with each year that passes. Prince Anders is played by Billy Magnusson, whom I love and adore and consider massively under-appreciated, but this is not the place for Prince Anders. This isn’t f-cking Frozen. Get that sh-t out of here. You’re making Aladdin. It’s set in the Middle East. No one is out here checking for Prince Anders.
But then, Disney had a horrible time casting this movie. It was so f-cking difficult for them to find talent of Middle Eastern and/or South Asian extraction they had to push the filming of the movie back. And then, once in production, word got out they still had some white extras being “browned up” for crowd scenes and dance numbers. It should not have been that hard. Aladdin shot outside London, which has a population of over one million people of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. Seems like more than enough to find a few hundred EXTRAS. We’re not even talking principal talent here. They just needed to fill the shot. Need background dancers? Call Bollywood. Hell, call local theater directors in London and find that talent working for day wages, or just doing it for fun in community theater. They’re out there, I promise.
See all the photos here or below.