the ominous tone of the original but works for the more upbeat version of the story. His impressive streak of musical numbers continues with each song retooled to be more fun. They are accompanied by unexpected visuals interwoven with classic iconography which makes each musical sequence pop. It helps that all the iconic songs are still here and keep most of the charm from the original. Apart from Smith, the other songs are good enough to stoke the nostalgia flames but never recapture the whimsical nature of those sequences.
Now here is where everything starts to fall apart. The first thing I noticed was the city of Agrabah didn't feel real. I could tell each little set was stitched together in wide shots to create a bigger city. The sets themselves didn't feel lived in as they were too clean. You can't show dirty homeless people begging on the street in the cleanest city ever seen in a desert, it just doesn't work. The off-putting feeling bleeds into the actors as well. The most egregious is sadly Aladdin, played by Mena Massoud. He doesn't work in this movie, and although by the end you get used to it, he always seems out-of-place. Its a completely different story when it comes to Marwan Kenzari who plays Jafar. It wasn't the acting that made his character more of a caricature but the direction that he was given. The plot gives Jafar a back story so he can seem more like a delusional evil man. It's weird how the live action version of the character seems more like a cartoon than the animated version does.
I also have to point out that this is the least Guy Ritchie film I have ever seen. Apart from the opening chase sequence, the film seems tamer than anything he has ever done before. It looks like the Disney executives had a lot of say in how the movie would come together. Even Ritchie's iconic speed ramp shots are used sparingly, only ever really used in completely CGI compositions. I don't know if all of this is good or bad, it was just weird going to see a Guy Ritchie film and not seeing his flare for most of it.
There were more technical things I noticed as well. The first time the audience is officially introduced to Princess Jasmine, the shot is out of focus. It's not a stylistic choice, you can't see anything in the center of the screen. It's a wide shot so it doesn't make sense for it to be blurry. Another thing I noticed was the new music. The score had new songs that used motifs from the original soundtrack. It was a little off-putting to hear the melody from A Whole New World that would transition into a completely different composition.
Overall, I am pretty indifferent to the movie. It shocked me that Will Smith is the best part of it. All of his musical numbers top all the others and even when he's not big and blue, he still makes it work. That is in stark contrast to the rest of his costars that either seem out of place or chew the scenery a little too hard. Then there's the story setup that makes key plot transitions clunky. The scene before A Whole New world does not make sense for that chain of events. Plus, I really wanted Jafar to turn into a giant snake like he does in the original, but they changed events so that wouldn't work. I guess if you need to watch something unoffensive this is a sure-fire bet. If you have access to the original, that will probably be a better time than this.
I think its a 6 instead of a 5 because I was entertained enough, though your mileage may vary