In the new live action film, the genie is played by Will Smith. Until a week ago, it was unthinkable that blue Will Smith could hold a candle to Robin Williams’ iconic performance in the animated classic. Precisely because the only image we had of Smith’s CGI genie was this:
Since then, the internet has been in flames with any matters concerning Aladdin. Youtuber Jenny Nicholson noted: «Will Smith genie is what appears in my room when I have sleep paralysis».
Two days ago, the first real trailer was released. And it seems as though the internet is in the process of changing its mind. Because in the new trailer, Will Smith’s genie sings, dances and helps Aladdin (Mena Massoud) with as much vigor and heart as Robin Williams did.
Every few seconds, he turns himself into something pop-culture related. Like he does at minute 1:03, making the magic carpet do the «Carlton Dance» from «The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air» He knows how to make fans happy.
It seems as though Will Smith just might be able to get the millions of skeptics on his side.
This wasn’t always the case. The upcoming live action version of «Aladdin» was directed by Guy Ritchie. It’s based on the animated Disney classic, one of the gems of 90’s pop culture. A big contributing factor to this status was Robin Williams, who gave what many see as the best performance of his life to the film. As genie. Just the thought that someone other than the late actor could take over the role is unthinkable in the eyes of many fans of the classic.
Just last December, cinema magazine «Entertainment Weekly» (EW) released the first image of Will Smith in character as genie. Fans were mortified.
The reactions on EW’s online version of the article ranged from «this is gonna be a mess» to «they shouldve made Vin Diesel the genie». And that was only on their website. The main complaint lobbied towards Smith and Disney was the apparent lack of a blue complexion on genie. As was established in the animated version. Shortly thereafter, Will Smith tried to quench the flames, posting on his Instagram profile: «This is how the Genie is in Human / Disguise Form. My character will be CGI most of the movie.»
In February 2019, two months later, these exact words would be his undoing. When the second teaser trailer came out, genie was blue. While at the same time taking a massive nose-dive into the «Uncanny Valley» (Article in German).
Instead of erupting with praise and cheer, however, the internet volleyed an even larger wave of ridicule towards Smith and Disney.
Remember when the EW images came out for Aladdin and everyone was like «oh why isn't Will Smith blue as the genie?!?» And now we have THIS. Be careful what you wish for.Allison Keene, Senior TV Editor at Collider, February 2019
To call the collective internet reaction «shock» would be an understatement. From anger to dark humour, there was a bit of everything. For example, a reference to the Blue Man Group episode of «Arrested Development».
Or Will Smith’s very own version of «Suicide Squad».
Of course, it would be nothing without a reference to «The Smurfs».
Many fans even went so far as to threaten a boycott. And we know that Disney has been taking such threats very seriously since the «Solo: A Star Wars Story» debacle. During that outrage, fans were livid at Alden Ehrenreich’s casting as Han Solo. Most were in strong opposition to exploring and demystifying the iconic character’s past in the first place. Many decided to not watch it. This was probably one of the many reasons why the movie grossed «only» 392 million dollars world wide. A failure in Star Wars terms.
Again, will Smith was deployed to quell protests, telling the BBC: «It’s always terrifying whenever you're doing things that are iconic.» The only thing capable of softening fan outrage was the new trailer, which is out now. All that is left is to wait and see how Will Smith’s version of genie will perform on the big screen.
The new trailer does have one flaw, however. In the German version at least. At 1:02, the musical slap in the face that is the German cover of Alan Menken’s «Friend Like Me» is absolutely ear-bleedingly horrible.
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