After months of waiting, the live-action version of Aladdin is finally here and it’s… actually pretty damn good,
The film looks and feels energetic, the reinterpretations of iconic songs like “A Whole New World” will still send shivers down your spine, and all those worries about Will Smith’s blue Genie are misplaced as he manages to make the character his own while still respecting what Robin Williams did.
But perhaps the most pleasant addition to the film was the expanded characterisation of Jasmine. While the animated film did lightly touch on some interesting stuff about her wanting to be her own person, the live-action film really fleshes out these aspects for the better.
Aladdin features the same plot point of Jasmine going under disguise and exploring Agrabah but it adds an extra layer by changing her motivations. Instead of just escaping to the city as an act of defiance, Jasmine is also doing it to properly understand her people.
This addition leads us to the next big change to her character: she wants to be Sultan, and not in a Jafar-esque way.
The film takes time to show how Jasmine has been studying hard so she’ll be more than ready to take over her father’s crown one day, and how marriage is not exactly her number one priority. This adds an additional element of drama and conflict between her and her father as he says there’s been no female Sultan and remains insistent that she marry a prince instead.
While Aladdin stumbles a little bit in getting to the conclusion of Jasmine’s character arc – she reconciles with her father and she becomes Agrabah’s first female Sultan – the point is made perfectly clear: she is fiercely independent, powerful, and just as, if not more, capable as the men around her.
At the end of the film when Aladdin and Jasmine get married, it feels less of “boy gets girl” and more of “girl gets boy”.
As an extra sweet cherry on top, Jasmine also finally gets her long-awaited spotlight moment in the film with a banging new showstopper, “Speechless,” and it is arguably the best part of Aladdin. Naomi Scott’s acting is great but her voice is something else.
Aladdin‘s Jasmine is the latest attempt by Disney to update its roster of princesses for a modern audience and it’s proved to be a great move so far.
In nearly all the live-action remakes we’ve seen so far, such as Alice In Wonderland, Cinderella, Maleficent, and Beauty And The Beast, the major female characters have been reinterpreted to be proactive, multidimensional people, which is a refreshing change to the cute but relatively limited characterisations we’ve seen in the animated movies.
It’s pleasing to see how Disney has finally taken steps to rewrite women’s roles in its live-action films. One thing’s for sure, we’re super excited to see how this approach will continue to enrich the studio’s ambitious slate of upcoming live-action adaptations.