Did Aladdin just wake up? Looks like it. It is an inspired choice to cast Guy Ritchie’s live-action version of Disney’s 1992 animated hit with persons of colour. That’s Will Smith as the Genie, embodying the character Robin Williams brought to hilarious vocal life in 1992 and doing the role proud. Mena Massoud who plays Aladdin, has roots in Egypt. Naomi Scott, who plays Princess Jasmine, is of Indian descent. Nasim Pedrad, as her handmaiden, Dalia, was born in Iran. And Marwan Kenzari, as villainous Jafar, is partly Tunisian. An Arabian nights fantasy filled with brown-skinned actors? Will wonders never cease?That the film itself is a treat, beyond its good intentions, is icing on the cake, though clichés and ethnic stereotyping still sneak in. Ritchie, best known for action pulverisers like RocknRolla and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, doesn’t pull out the heavy ammo in this family-friendly, PG enterprise. But he does give the story a kineticism that helps when you’re trying to match what animation can do. That’s mostly a losing battle, but the impulse is solid. The actors help enormously. Massoud, so good on TV’s Jack Ryan, is a live-wire as Aladdin, who swings through the streets of Agrabah like an acrobat while singing the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman-Tim Rice score. His “One Jump Ahead” has a swirling energy you won’t find in the musical version currently on Broadway. Aladdin does have a problem: He yearns for Jasmine, a princess far beyond his pay grade. You won’t recognise Jasmine from her cartoon origins. She no longer dreams only of love; she’d like to succeed her father the sultan and make decisions for her country. She even gets a new song, “Speechless,” with lyrics from La La Land Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. And Scott makes the most of it.The actors help enormously. Massoud, so good on TV’s Jack Ryan, is a live-wire as Aladdin, who swings through the streets of Agrabah like an acrobat while singing the Alan Menken/Howard Ashman-Tim Rice score. His ‘One Jump Ahead’ has a swirling energy you won’t find in the musical version currently on BroadwayHow do these two opposites come together? The Genie, of course. Smith plays him human-sized and later as the CG-enhanced marvel that pops out of a lamp when Aladdin gives it a rub. Genie has only three wishes to grant, and you can’t wish for more wishes. For starters, Aladdin wishes to be a prince worthy of wooing Jasmine. And Ritchie pulls out all the stops in “Prince Ali,” a circus-like production number. Smith, however is the movie’s best special effect. He brings a Fresh Prince sass to the role and wisely never tries to imitate the inimitable Williams. Putting his own spin on Genie’s big song, “Friend Like Me,” Smith is a comic blast. His scenes with Massoud have a scrappy charge that lift the mood when the plot mechanics get heavy. And they do weigh things down at midpoint when Ritchie and co-screenwriter John August lose their spark to get care of franchise business. The romance angle works fine, especially when Aladdin and Jasmine ride a magic carpet and duet on the Oscar-winning “A Whole New World.” But ginning up a love story for Genie and Jasmine’s maid seems like padding. And never once do you think that Jafar is evil enough to hold back a happy ending.Still, every time Aladdin drifts into bland or the songs take on the static feeling of a Broadway musical that’s been running too long, Ritchie and the actors spring soaring, tumbling, freewheeling surprises that feed our rooting interest. Did we really need another live-action remake of a Disney classic? Maybe not. But what’s there goes down easy. ‘Aladdin’ is a 2019 American musical fantasy film directed by Guy Ritchie, who co-wrote the screenplay with John August. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1992 animated film of the same name, which was based on the eponymous Middle-Eastern folktale from the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.The film stars Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, and Billy Magnussen. The film follows Aladdin, a street urchin, who finds a magic lamp and must use it to win over Princess Jasmine and defeat the conspiring vizier Jafar. In October 2016, Disney announced Ritchie would direct a live-action Aladdin remake. Smith was the first member of the cast to join, signing on to portray Genie in July 2017, and later that month Massoud and Scott were confirmed for the two lead roles. Principal photography began that September at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, also filming in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan, and lasted until January 2018. The film also pays tribute to Robin Williams, who voiced Genie in the animated feature and died in 2014.‘Aladdin’ was theatrically released in the United States on May 24, 2019. The film received mixed reviews from critics; many praised the performances of Massoud, Smith, and Scott, the costumes, and the musical numbers, while others criticised Ritchie’s direction, the pacing and the CGI effects. The changes made to the original film also divided critics, mainly in Jafar’s character and portrayal. In contrast, the film received a positive response from audiences polled by CinemaScore and PostTrak.