Nostalgia galore: Can the new Aladdin and Jumanji do justice to the good ol’ classics?

Published: May 10, 2017
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So whether we agree or not, movie reboots will always be a staple in commercial cinema.

Hollywood is a big fan of the remake phenomenon. There are some movies whose legacy we feel is better served left untouched but studio executives have other ideas. So whether we agree or not, movie reboots will always be a staple in commercial cinema. Regardless of our feelings for these remakes, how about we look at some of these films that have dared to be as good if not better than the originals.

1. Aladdin (1992)

Following the rip-roaring successes of live-action versions of Beauty and the BeastCinderella and The Jungle Book, it’s no surprise that Disney would further exploit this particular trend. But what is actually pleasantly surprising is their choice of the next remake. Aladdin! If that isn’t enough to set your pulse racing, then the fact that they managed to rope in Guy Ritchie as the man to oversee the whole affair should definitely get you all psyched.

Another decision which is sure to garner applause from all and sundry is the studio doing away with the much derided practice of whitewashing. Disney was holding auditions in the UAE, trying to find actual Middle Easterners for the leading characters of Aladdin and Jasmine, with ‘The Voice Arabia‘ star Mory Hatem in the driving seat to bag the coveted role of the titular protagonist.

Completing the casting for principal actors is Will Smith who is in advanced talks to play Genie in the remake. The iconic role was made famous by the late Robin Williams in the 1992 animated version, and James Monroe Iglehart won a Tony for his take on the magical blue cartoon in the Broadway adaptation. Suffice to say, Smith has some pretty big shoes to fill.

2. Jumanji (1995)

Another favourite from my childhood and another reboot where somebody is trying to better Robin Williams from the original is Jumanji! Such was the allure of the late actor that it took three superstars in Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black to fill the gaping Robin Williams sized hole.

The project has been in the news recently trying to live up to the challenge of the original which is a hugely cherished film for many. So it might be appropriate to change the focus from an ancient board game – which was the case in the classic – to a sweet old video game in the current version. This particular appeal to millennial sensibilities might invite its own peculiar brand of pressure for the filmmakers and the heavy duty cast who are set to play video game avatars in the movie. It might prove to be a hit with a certain demographic but for the old schoolers, it has the potential to act as total blasphemy.

3. Mary Poppins (1964)

Well here’s one for your grandma; sure to give her an extremely nostalgic trip down memory lane. The remake, named Mary Poppins Returns, is set 20 years after the original took place in 1930s depression-era London and sees the magical nanny Poppins’ continued adventures with the Banks family. The idea is to help now-grown Michael and Jane Banks rediscover the joy missing in their boringly mundane lives.

The first pictures of Emily Blunt who stars as the titular super-nanny appeared in media a little while back, and based on her look, it seems like an apt casting decision. The 1964 original scored 13 Academy Award nominations and won female protagonist Julie Andrews the Oscar for best actress, and Blunt would be desperate to follow suit.

The rest of the cast is all-star, featuring Meryl StreepColin FirthBen Whishaw, and Angela Lansbury in lead roles.

4. Splash (1984)

It has been more than 30 years since Tom Hanks fell in love with a mermaid in the fantasy romantic-comedy directed by Ron Howard, but Hollywood is once again ready to take the plunge with a remake. But this reboot is not without its fair shares of twists, with Channing Tatum assuming the role of the underwater seducer. The gender-swapped update has Jillian Bell taking on Hanks’s character of a human with Tatum as the merman she falls for. Tatum and Bell previously worked together on 22 Jump Street.

The filmmakers are also trying to rope in Hanks for a cameo for the aquatic remake. The movie has not set its release date yet.

5. Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

I have saved the best for last. The cast of the upcoming film remake of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ reads like a who’s who of modern day cinematic greats. Having Kenneth Branagh – who is also the director – as Agatha Christie’s most famous detective, Hercule Poirot, is just the beginning. With seasoned stalwarts like Johnny Depp, Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe part of the incredible roster along with Michelle Pfeiffer, Penélope Cruz and Daisy Ridley, it’s a star-fest and a half.

The original was directed by the great Sidney Lumet in 1974 is a cinema classic but with such a star-studded cast, the reboot has huge expectations attached to it. And if does as well as it is expected to do, you can surely sense a franchise being developed out of it.

Murder on the Orient Express is scheduled to be released on November 10, 2017.

Hassan Sardar

Hassan Sardar

The author is an aspiring filmmaker and a diehard Liverpool fan. He also teaches Screenwriting and Cinematography, and loves tattoos and flip-flops. He tweets as @CineSardar (twitter.com/CineSardar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.