Disney released the live action versions of two of their most successful animated films, Aladdin and The Lion King. They’re even both playing in most theaters now even though Aladdin came out first. The two movies have also shared the same space on Broadway in New York, as they are two of the more consistent shows that you can see live most of the time.
If you haven’t seen either yet, and are contemplating which you’d like to see, I’ve compiled a ranking system to help you decide which you wanna see based on what exactly you’re looking to get from reliving one of your favorite childhood films.
|Sticks to the original story||3/5|
|Beautifully filmed, high quality imagery||4.5/5|
|Characters / actor portrayal||4/5|
|Emotional response to certain scenes||5/5|
|Humor / comedy for parents & older viewers||5/5|
My reasoning for scoring Aladdin a 3/5 for sticking to the original story is just because traditionalist Disney fans may be disappointed with some modern aspects they included, such as the storyline with Jasmine. Instead of her just wanting to marry who she wants, she also wants to be sultan – because had her parents had a son, he would be sultan. But rightfully so, she is think that her being a girl should prevent her from being the sultan. That way, the kingdom is left to someone who was born into the royal family, and if/when she marries it will be for love. While I thought it was a positive change, there’s some viewers who just want to see the movie be done as it was and leave it at that. I, on the other hand, will take more strong Disney princesses where I can get them!
The other aspect that does differ from the original is Will Smith’s portrayal of the Genie versus Robin William’s. But you’ll come to find that the way he did it was smart, because Will Smith acknowledged that nobody could live up to those standards, so it was just better to put his own spin on the character entirely.
The only reason I gave the music an un-perfect score is because I’d say that the original Aladdin was a better singer, and while Jasmine’s solo song was great, something about the song “A Whole New World” was better in the original. But then again, it’s very challenging to top an original recording of a Disney song. Which is why once again Will Smith would be the reason I ranked the music so highly, because every single song he sang made me feel like I was still hearing the classic movie even with his R&B influence on the songs. In addition, his humor was different from William’s and maybe a little more mature. But he also was the character who jerked the most tears. I ultimately would hand the movie’s success to Will Smith entirely, for his impossible task to step into Robin William’s shoes, while also being able to carry most of the movie’s weight on his back successfully. Between Genie, the magic carpet, Abu, the outfits that are straight out of the cartoon, and the beautifully reimagined palace, it absolutely took home the cake for Disney Magic.
Lion King’s Scores:
|Sticks to the film’s original story||5/5|
|Beautifully filmed, high quality imagery||5/5|
|Characters / actor portrayal||3.5/5|
|Emotional response to certain scenes||2.5/5|
|Humor / comedy for parents & older viewers||4/5|
So logistically, I’d say Aladdin beats Lion King. In order to rank them, I was comparing two things: Aladdin and Lion King in the categories not just with each other, but how they compared to the original film (the originals getting a 5 out of everything).
While Lion King was quite possibly the most beautiful movie I’ve seen in a long time (given the fact that it was all artistically and digitally created to be hyper-realistic), I found that most of my emotional reactions came from how stunning the film was and how far graphic design has come rather than the lions. While they did make some facial expressions, and it was more emotional than tougher critics are conveying, using the appearance of real lions means that they aren’t going to be able to have cartoonish features and expressions without the movie looking cheap. I docked them lower for the characters because they didn’t have to be in the film opposed to the Aladdin cast, and I have a potentially unpopular opinion about full grown Nala, voiced by Beyonce.
I found it extremely distracting that Beyonce was playing Nala, while the song “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was beautiful, she strongly overpowered the voice of Donald Glover, and throughout the entire time she spoke I didn’t hear Nala from my childhood I heard Beyonce. While the cast was obviously all amazing, Billy Ichner, Donald Glover, Seth Rogan, and John Oliver all sounded so much like the original character. Beyonce just sounded like herself, which may be because if you pick such a high profile star known for being the queen of pop music, she’s not going to altar her voice for the role.
Lastly, I just seemed to laugh more and cry more at Aladdin. It made me feel some type of way, the love story between Aladdin and Jasmine is so much more amped up and believable, the music is fantastic considering thee’s no Robin Williams, the sultan isn’t as pathetic (because in the cartoon, you wonder how he hasn’t destroyed his kingdom or let Jafar take over by now), and something about it feels very theatrical and mystical. I felt that more heart and soul was put into it, but that really could be because unlike The Lion King, they had real actors and sets to be apart of for the duration of the movie. Even if The Lion King was absolutely beautiful and stunning to watch, I can confidently say I wouldn’t want to watch strictly 100% CGI movies in the future. There’s something too special about real performances by real people, and I think I’d also much prefer the Broadway performance of The Lion King over the live action film.