Directed by Guy Ritchie. Starring Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen. Music by Alan Menken. Length 128 minutes

Aladdin and his monkey Abu are rogues who survive in the Agrabah bazaar thanks to their quick wits and agile fingers. One day Aladdin is captivated by a beautiful girl who turns out to be Princess Yasmine incognito. To see her again, he risks entering the palace at night, but is trapped and locked up.

The Royal Vizier Jafar promises him freedom and riches in exchange for a lamp that he must take out of a magic cave. Whoever rubs the lamp will have a Genie at his service.

This live-action Aladdin owes more to Disney’s 1992 animation than to A Thousand and One Nights – just as Beauty and the Beast two years ago did not go back to the original French story, but to the Disney version of 1991. It’s a marketing strategy that worked superbly for The Jungle Book and Dumbo. Disney is committed to the tried and true.

However, this version of Aladdin was a pleasant surprise. First, because no one expected too much and second, because its excellent animation belies the disappointing trailers.

Director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch, King Arthur) blows hot and cold but he is on fire with Aladdin. The film’s action is dynamic and has a satisfyingly manic touch. The young lovers, Naomi Scott as Jasmine and Mena Massoud as Aladdin, are charming, and Will Smith as the Genie is great.

The film is poetic, but the city of Agrabah is stunningly realistic. The choreography, the colours, and the music are all splendid. Alan Menken, composer for the 1992 version, has arranged the music for the 2019 version as well. Jasmine’s defiant, this-girl-can-do-anything theme song, “Speechless”, is a winner.

Ritchie’s Aladdin is not a live-action copy of the older film. Some aspects of the script have been updated and there are new and hilarious plot twists which create a surprise ending.

Fernando Gil-Delgado is a Spanish film critic. This review has been republished from Aceprensa.