Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Other Glass Slipper: A Journey into Disney Direct-to-Video Sequels: Aladdin and the King of Thieves

When we set off this journey I was apprehensive, I was scared and alone. You've all been very supportive of this new chapter in my life, and I gotta say, it's really spurred me on to be a better person. A person who has watched every Disney DtV sequel. Why this new outlook? Well actually Aladdin and the King of Thieves is actually a really fun film! That's it lads, I'm ready, there's some untold secrets lying in wait here for me, it was the little push I needed to make this worthwhile.

Now, it's not like the animation has magically got better or anything, it's still super sloppy and fuzzy and just not what you would ever associate with Disney, especially 90s Disney animation, ever. The songs are also still awful. But the inclusion of any actual story line, and wall to wall excellent action scenes in great locations elevate this up and UP. I was so pleasantly surprised, I'm having a hard time deciding if this or Aladdin is my favourite of the Aladdin franchise.

Great news for some, and bed news for others (me), Robin Williams came back on to voice the genie after his falling out with Disney over merchandising. Wow, learning the inner workings of companies can really take away the magic, huh? So Genie's back, and he's just as annoying as ever. Every single thing is over the top, a reference to something completely outdated now, or just so absolutely unnecessary you have to wonder how William's had Disney so wrapped around his finger.

I know.
There's references to Robocop, Forrest Gump and stuff that I didn't even recognise, it just kinda sticks in my craw because Disney is meant to be inclusive, not this Dreamworks bullshit of putting adults humor in just to acknowledge that a parent might be watching?  I'm not here for it, it's so lazy and Disney have proven they can do this the right way time and time again, I don't know why Aladdin is so much different?!

The whole film has a pretty interesting premise, Aladdin's dad is actually alive, and it turns out he's the KING OF THIEVES. Cue some good old family drama, baby! Aladdin must wrestle his love for his father with his disapproval of his thieving ways, all the while Jasmine is just sitting around waiting to get married, once again putting up with Aladdin putting them on the back burner to go and fight bad guys and go through some sort of midlife crisis.

Introducing Aladdin's dad was a great concept because it turns out that Cassim is a silver fox and one of the more interesting male Disney characters from the 90s!

Helloooooooooooooo Nurse!
Cassim is a very good character because he remains ambiguously evil throughout. Well, more of a mischievous handsome rogue, but it certainly goes against Aladdin's draconian moral code when it comes to other characters in other films. That little bit of leeway is really refreshing and lends itself to a lot of depth that I wasn't expecting from anything in this challenge. I think it's actually quite a shame that Cassim has ebbed into the darkness, at the back of the Disney Vault to never see the light of day. He could definitely be resurrected now we have the likes of Flynn Ryder running around.

 The real jewel of this film has got to be the fantastic settings, taking the story out of Abgrabah, into the desert, across jagged cliffs and swirling oceans, into underground layers and uh, onto a turtle's back?

LOOK AT THAT. IT'S A TEMPLE ON TOP OF A GIANT TURTLE. IT'S INCREDIBLE, IT'S ASTOUNDING, IT'S BEAUTIFUL. That really sold this film for me, I felt like the animators must have been having a blast, imagine being assigned to work on Aladdin 3 and you end up getting to draw a temple on top of a mythical island-sized turtle!! You would be having a ball!

The action scenes in this are well choreographed and full of suspense, there's times when you think characters have actually met their end which is very unusual (Disney tend to let villains meet their maker by their own stupidity so that their heroes remain pure and untainted) but gives this film a dark, brooding edge. I think without the Genie throwing the atmosphere all off, and without the fluffy wedding bits this could have gone into cinemas and done really well as a solid little action flick. Alas, this was not mean to be.

We will always have that giant ass turtle though. Also, Jasmine's wedding gown is well cute. I think it's maybe overtaken Ariel's 90s monstrosity as my favourite Disney wedding dress!!

Final Verdict
Despite Robin Williams being hell bent on throwing off the tone, King of Thieves is a worthy successor to Aladdin and makes up for Return of Jafar's shoddiness. Disney should be proud of this one!

Robyn is one half of Bimbo Movie Bash, an avid fan of Angel Delight and a Pee Wee apologist.

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