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‘Aladdin’ sends an improved message of female empowerment and individuality By emma ingledew

While enchanting and uplifting, Disney’s newest remake, “Aladdin” is exactly what you would expect it to be. If you’re a sucker for a fairytale story, extravagant costumes and sceneries, then you are sure to fall in love with this mystical take. Even with this Disney classic, there are certain areas that lack in acting and plot complexity, but overall “Aladdin” still managed to impress me with its visuals and message in regards to female empowerment.

The film follows a similar plot to the original animated film, which was voiced over by Robin Williams as the Genie, Scott Weinger as Aladdin and Linda Larkin as Princess Jasmine. Going into the film I was curious as to how the actors would compare to the original characters because of how iconic the previous film was. This is especially relevant in regards to the Genie who was passed down to Will Smith. However, contrary to my expectations going into the film, Smith and director Guy Ritchie did an admirable job of adapting the cheerful and wacky nature of the Genie into a more up to date comedic style. While Smith's character stood out from the rest, other characters such as Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and Aladdin (Mena Massoud) also struck me, but because they demonstrated a message that wasn't as blatantly present in the original 1992 version.

Teaching Aladdin (Mena Massoud) the rules of the lamp, Genie (Will Smith) can't believe the hands thats this object has landed in.

While the actors in the film filled the shoes of the original characters to the best of their abilities, there is only so much skill that can be demonstrated in a role intended to be a fantasy story depicted in a live-action film. In other words, it seemed as if many of the actors were so focused on portraying the way in which their character was in the original film that they were unable to demonstrate any acting freedom on screen. While their acting choices may have been restricted, the spectacular dance numbers allowed the actors to grab the attention of viewers in a way that differed from the original classic. While some may argue the choreography in the film was over the top due to, it ultimately added to the grand and magical purpose of the film, which is to prompt people's imaginations and enforce the idea of being able to accomplish anything despite obstacles.

Genie (Smith) greets Aladdin (Massoud) into the city of Agrabah in hopes of impressing Princess Jasmine.

Choreography, however, wasn't the only re-invented aspect of the film. The remake had a much stronger focus on empowering Jasmine rather than casting her as the classic “damsel in distress” role many Disney princesses fall into. For instance, in both the original and the remake, Jasmine struggles against antagonist Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) as he attempts to snatch her father’s position as sultan. However, the 1992 version places Jasmine in chains and silences her voice as Jafar deprives her of power, while the recent edition incorporates a new song, “Speechless,” sung by Jasmine ultimately allowing her to break away from the deprivation of freedom she’s been facing her whole life. Another alteration made to the film was the new emphasis on Jasmine’s leadership position, which signified how capable she was in ruling the city of Agrabah. The changes made to specific scenes provided an interesting parallel to how feminism and women's rights have played an increasingly crucial role in the past few years, helping to spark a women's voices in society. Despite the film being called “Aladdin,” both the male and female roles in the film developed complex and interesting storylines.

Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) portrays an empowering character as she helps lead the city of Agrabah with her sultan father (Navid Negahban).

While the movie shines a more powerful and outspoken light on female empowerment, the same idea of breaking expectations is conveyed through the film as it was in the original. Through the film, Aladdin and Jasmine show that the stereotypes much of the public had of them were incorrect. While Jasmine stood up against princess ideals of being silent and submissive, Aladdin proved to be much more than just a “street rat” or “thief” and was, in reality, a young boy seeking to help others while also trying to survive with no money.

Unaware that he has just met the Princess of Agrabah, Aladdin (Massoud) walks Jasmine (Scott) through the busy town.

“Aladdin” met my expectations in terms of predictability and cheesy aspects, something you have to expect in childhood remakes, but it did do a fairly good job of visuals and computer-generated images (CGI). Because Disney classics interested me more at a younger age, it makes perfect sense that they appeal to the youth, who generally enjoy a happy ending. While the target audience is limited, the messages shown within the movie made it stand out as it did an honorable job in exposing younger generations to a more empowering female role along with highlighting the importance of embracing one's true self; all things I wish were present in the original version of the movie that I watched when I was a little girl

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