Genie

Will Smith as Genie.

Orson Welles once famously never said: "If you made an animated film almost 30 years ago and it made a lot of money, you should remake it with computer animation while the brand is still strong."

If only he'd lived to see the new "Aladdin" movie! To see all the promises of cinema come to fruition!

This weekend, Disney dropped the teaser trailer to "Aladdin," Guy Ritchie's live-action-ish remake of the 1992 animated classic. It looks about like you'd expect, a shot-for-shot remake of original done mostly in CGI. Some of the CGI looks OK. Some of it looks like this insurance lawyer's Super Bowl commercial.   

But the headline is that we finally get to see video of Will Smith as Genie. And he looks ... really blue. He's a CGI composite, and maybe the effects aren't done yet, but Genie's facial expressions look a little stiff, his movements a little odd, the whole package a lot uncanny. This Genie (and this film) doesn't evoke nostalgia so much as some kind of ineffable dread. Warm childhood memories processed by Hollywood and spit back out to us as a nightmare. The message is that you should never try to recapture the magic of childhood. It will always come back to you as something blue, bloated, dead-eyed.  

Anyway, this terrible-looking movie will probably make $1 billion. This year Disney also has remakes of its animated classics "The Lion King" and "Dumbo," each made with some mix of CG and live-action. Such remakes have paid off huge in the past, resulting in the massive hit do-overs "Cinderella," "The Jungle Book" and "Beauty and the Beast."

In any case, Welles would have been proud.    

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