March 25, 2019 | 50° F

Will Smith's Genie leaves Disney fans wishing for more


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During the 2019 Grammy Awards, viewers got a sneak peek of the live-action remake of Disney’s classic animated movie, “Aladdin.” From the first look at the film, revealed on the cover of Entertainment Weekly earlier this year, actor Will Smith portrayed Genie while looking fairly human. His hair was in a long ponytail, accompanied by a very long goatee, but being that it was similar to the animation, this look was expected. Still, many wondered if Smith would portray the character as he appears in the animated film, and to those watching the Grammys, Genie was finally revealed. 

The reactions following the reveal proved fans “right” again, that Disney has failed to pull off the live-action remake. Some of the milder reactions from Twitter referred to him as one of those “90s Fruit Gusher commercials” and said he “looks like an auto insurance commercial that comes on at 2 a.m.” 

The reveal elicited strong emotions due to the link between the Disney animated movie and the original actor behind the Genie, Robin Williams. Was Smith the right choice? Disney embraces its animated films by trying to make them culturally accurate, by seeing who fits best in these roles. 

For example, the upcoming live-action film “Mulan” is taking some hits because the film may no longer have Shang as the bisexual love interest, and will be replaced by Chen, who will allegedly be an army recruit who is bent on being “the best soldier in history.” Like “Mulan” and “Aladdin,” concerns for who fits the best roles are always on the table for discussion.

Another fear for the “Aladdin” movie is the way Smith is portrayed as a CGI character. Due to the lack of animation, many are saying he looks “fake” and that the film is poorly produced. Disney’s passion for CGI has carried over into the recent film “The Jungle Book” where its effects were so detailed and realistic that fans were left stunned. But, Smith’s Genie garnered negative attention toward the visual effects for the upcoming movie. 

“In the trailer, Smith looks overtly smooth in the way that hastily finished CGI often does, but he also looks just a little too human. The Genie in the animated film is clearly otherworldly and while it’s understandable that Disney would be hesitant to directly copy or go cartoonish that for live-action, making him seem like just some guy painted blue falls flat,” said Kayleigh Donaldson in an article for Screen Rant.

It seems like Disney can never get it right. Or maybe the fans are just too picky. Some have said Disney should stop doing remakes of classic movies because it ruins the true magic behind the original films. It may seem frustrating that Disney has not put out as much original content and that they keep reusing the same ideas, but eventually it will become overdone and they will need to find other ways to draw in viewers. 

For now, most of these films evoke pleasant feelings of nostalgia, and we should not be judging a film right from the trailer. Many movies including “Beauty and the Beast,” as well as “The Jungle Book,” had their flaws. Each Disney film has a huge budget, which usually ends up reaping huge returns. So even if Disney is reverting to its older ideas, it knows it is doing good business by enticing people to watch the films and bringing the magic back to life once again.


Elizabeth Leoce

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