Critics Consensus

Disney's Aladdin One Jump Ahead of The Fresh Line, For Now

But will it stay there? Plus, Booksmart is smart and cool and Brightburn messes with the superhero trope.

by | May 23, 2019 | Comments

Can Prince Ali, mighty is he, slay at the box office? Aladdin, Disney’s live-action remake of its 1992 animated musical stars Will Smith as the sometimes-blue genie with the power to grant three wishes and Mena Massoud as the titular small-time thief-turned-imposter prince. It’s also the flashiest film opening this weekend – even if it doesn’t come with the highest reviews. That honor goes to director Olivia Wilde’s teen comedy Booksmart. Also in wide release is horror film Brightburn, which serves as a send-up of superhero films. All three movies offer reinventions of staid genres. But, which one will rule this weekend’s multiplexes? The critics have some thoughts.

Booksmart (2019) 96%

The movie trope of high school students wanting one last hurrah before graduation has been done, more often than not leaning on the male gaze (and let’s face it, often come with some sexist overtones that don’t always age well). That’s why Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is so refreshing. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play self-confident Ivy League-bound seniors on the precipice of adulthood who don’t want some virginity-themed raunchy night out. They just want their classmates to remember them as the smart and fun ladies they – and clearly, the critics – know they are.

Brightburn (2019) 57%

Thanks to the legend of Superman, we’re taught to expect that a lot of good will happen when a child from another world crash-lands on Earth. Director David Yarovesky’s new horror film messes with this misconception, in the process earning some mixed reviews – and an R-rating, which  probably doesn’t help in regards to ticket sales. But the film does come with some interesting pedigree, as its written by Brian and Mark Gunn (a cousin and brother to Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, who also produced) and stars Slither actor Elizabeth Banks as the mother caring for the alien boy. It’s also on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of most-anticipated horror films of the year.

Aladdin (2019) 57%

Despite the hesitation that ensued among fandoms when footage of Will Smith as a blue genie first appeared online, (How hard is it going to be to take this film seriously? Someone else is playing the part made famous by the late Robin Williams? Is nothing sacred?) most critics say that Disney’s latest live-action remake of one of its animated classics is fine — maybe not totally necessary, but passable. Given the way these new versions rank at the box office (even Dumbo, which opened in March and has a Tomatometer score of 47%, eventually grossed $112 million, despite a $170 million production budget), the Mouse House shouldn’t worry too much. If this movie isn’t to your liking, Disney has many other films on the horizon.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Diamantino (2018) is a sci-fi tinged drama that follows a disgraced former soccer star on the hunt for a new purpose – confronting, along the way, neo-fascism, the refugee crisis, genetic modification, and abuse at the hands of his evil twin sisters. It is Certified Fresh at 87%.
  • Avengement (2019) is, as suggested by the title, a film that follows a criminal on furlough from prison who uses his time on the outside to take down those who made him a cold-blooded killer. It is Fresh with a 100% Tomatometer.
  • Echo in the Canyon (2018) is a music documentary that looks at influential artists like The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas and others who were part of the Laurel Canyon scene of the mid-’60s and contributed to what would be known as the California Sound. It is Fresh with a 100% Tomatometer.
  • Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation (2019) is another music doc set around the turbulent ’60s, and includes never-before-seen footage of the concert that would define a generation. It is Fresh with a 100% Tomatometer.
  • Funny Story (2018) is described as a tragi-comedy and follows an aging heartthrob who attempts to reconnect with his grown daughter – by hitching a ride with her friend and crashing her vacation in Big Sur. It has an 89% Tomatometer score.
  • Halston (2019) is a documentary that looks at influential 1970s fashion designer Halston. Frédéric Tcheng, who also did films about Diana Vreeland and Valentino, writes and directs. It is Fresh with an 80% Tomatometer.

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