Disney continues its train of live-action remakes with Aladdin. After some disastrous promotional footage, fans were shaking their heads in disappointment – particularly with the look of Will Smith’s uncanny valley Genie. Some of that initial negative feedback has fizzled but there is still some anticipation for a full-out disaster. Fortunately (or unfortunately for some) Aladdin is not the catastrophe that was expected. That’s not to say it’s great but you could do far worse than the messy fun it delivers.

The live-action version of Aladdin is about 95% the same as the 1992 animated movie. Sure, they added a few characters and scenes, but it’s almost shot for shot the same movie. It’s almost impossible to not compare the two. In fact, most people will watch it just for that. It’s easy to say that you can’t compete with the original. In 1992, Aladdin was a fresh and new look for animated features. Latch on some nostalgia and the original seems to always beat whatever remake Disney has to offer. This is the lose-lose situation with this remake phase Disney is going on. You can’t sway too much from the source material but you can’t just do the same thing over again.

Sherlock Holmes and Snatch director Guy Ritchie tries his hands on the iconic Disney property resulting in a mixed bag. He can direct the action scenes in his usual frantic kinetic style, but he seems unsure what to do with the musical numbers. He can’t decide if the music is diegetic or source. It’s like he is uncomfortable transitioning from dialog to song which gives us some awkward results. But it is nice to see that the original songs still hold up. They prove to be one of the strongest things in the movie even though they are not as organically presented as they are in the original.

The biggest question is how Will Smith does in the iconic Genie roll that Robin Williams immortalized. Obviously, it is just about impossible to replicate what Williams did and the movie is smart enough to not do that. Will Smith has had a bit of a slump lately, but his Genie is one of the brighter spots in his career. Exchanging Robin Williams’ character imitations with Smith’s swagger and charm, this 2019 Genie is a sassy comical creation of the Fresh Prince kind. They are big blue shoes to fill and he pulls it off. He is charismatic, fun, and most importantly funny.

The mostly newbie cast pull off what they can with the corny material but at times the acting can look like a high school production. Save for Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. She gets a juicer role as prospective ruler contemplating strategies helping her Kingdom. She also has the strongest voice of the bunch and gets the only new original song. It’s a giant ballad of the Frozen kind that’s as catchy as it is hokey. Mena Massoud’s Aladdin has the charm but could use a couple more sessions acting with green screen. You may get a sense of Hayden Christensen’s Star Wars acting with odd voice inflections and over the top facial expressions. On the bright side, he has some great dance moves.

The movie moves fast even though it clocks in at a little over two hours. Aladdin goes through the motions beat by beat without much heft. It has a beautiful blast of color and imagination that mimic Bollywood. At times it’s almost too polished and you can’t help but think this is all taking place in an air-conditioned studio but try to suspend your belief. But in a line of Disney remakes that don’t seem to be stopping soon, this one ranks in line with Beauty and the Beast. It’s unnecessary and doesn’t offer anything new but it’s fun enough to turn off your brain off and enjoy what you can.