Allison Williams Explains How Her Get Out Performance Enhances Her Character In The Perfection

Logan Browning and Allison Williams walking on a dirt road in The Perfection

There are many reasons why Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a phenomenal film, but certainly high on the list is the performance given by Allison Williams. Throughout the movie she does such an amazing job representing herself as an ally to Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris, so when the big twist goes down it basically feels like taking a shovel to the face. It’s become one of the most beloved surprises in modern horror, which makes it all the more exciting that Williams is returning to the genre with the upcoming The Perfection.

Interestingly, though, the connection between the two features doesn’t end with that. Without giving too much away, Allison Williams stars as a character in The Perfection that’s purposefully hard to get a full read on, and as a member of the audience you spend the majority of the runtime not quite sure if you can fully trust her. As you might imagine, this is a feeling that is only enhanced by those who associate the actress with her part in Get Out – and it’s a connection that Williams definitely recognized in the making of the new movie.

With The Perfection set to hit Netflix this Friday, I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Allison Williams, co-star Logan Browning, and writer/director Richard Shepard last week at the film’s Los Angeles press day, and during the interviews I took the opportunity to bring up the movie’s unique relationship with Get Out. Discussing the influence of audience perception of her character, Williams agreed with my analysis, and noted that it was something that occurred to her shortly after reading the script for the first time:

Richard [Shepard] sent it to me and said, ‘This is insane. You need to call me after you read it.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, well if you think it’s insane, and you’re insane, and I think it’s insane, and I’m insane, this must be really, really crazy.’ And it was! And I called him right afterwards and as we were talking about it, it occurred to me that if you have a sort of associative hangover of me from Get Out, it’s very helpful to go into The Perfection with that.

In the new movie, Allison Williams stars as Charlotte Willmore, a former cello prodigy who, at a young age, had to drop out of one of the most esteemed music schools on the planet when her mother got sick. Following her mother’s death, she tries to reconnect the world she was forced to disconnect from, and in the process gets to know Elizabeth Wells (Logan Browning) –the star student who joined the aforementioned school when Charlotte left. The two quickly hit it off during a special event in China, eventually making plans to go on a two-week vacation together in the country, but things start to go very badly very quickly on the adventure.

Without getting into spoiler territory, as the story progresses in The Perfection you’re never quite sure how to feel about Charlotte’s relationship with Elizabeth – and this is where memories of Allison Williams’ Rose Armitage from Get Out start to play a role. As Williams explained, she loved that her past role tweaks the way we look at her new performance, while at the same time fully appreciating that Charlotte is an absolutely wonderful character independently. Said the actress,

I thought, what is more fun than using that to make people very, very untrustworthy when they see me for the first time and very wary of sending us off on a bus together in rural China – as you should be in the movie! And so I thought that was a very interesting sort of meta level to it. But first and foremost I was just fascinated by Charlotte. I thought she was so interesting and I just had to play her so that I could understand what makes that girl tick and what, what is going on in there.

This was a sentiment shared by Richard Shepard, who noted that he wrote the role of Charlotte in The Perfection with Allison Williams specifically in mind – having previously worked with her directing episodes of the HBO comedy series Girls. And while Get Out may not have had any specific influence in the writing process, it is something that he acknowledges will have an effect on the way people watch his film. Said Shepard,

The fact that people don’t initially really trust Allison because of Get Out helps us enormously because Alison’s playing a character that you’re not quite sure is a good guy, or a bad guy. You can’t quite get a grasp on her. And that’s really important in a movie like this because people are projecting what they think. So Allison’s sort of baggage helps a lot.

Continuing, the filmmaker further added that part of what makes Allison Williams such a talented performer is the way in which she is able to modulate her emotional reactions to effective degrees. She doesn’t show her full hand until exactly the right moment, and when that happens it can be powerful and affecting. Explained the director,

I’ve always seen in Allison an ability to hold back her emotions until it’s really ready to show. And in this it was perfect because she was holding back just enough to keep the audience leaning in, and then when she needed to show it she really could.

You can watch Allison Williams and Richard Shepard discuss the special influence of Get Out on The Perfection by clicking play on the video below!

Also starring Steven Weber, Alaina Huffman, Mark Kandborg, and Graeme Duffy, The Perfection is a horrific delight that first premiered at Fantastic Fest last year, and will be available soon to set your brain on fire. As mentioned earlier, the movie will be available on Netflix this Friday, May 24th – and we’ll have more from my interviews with the cast and filmmakers coming your way soon here on CinemaBlend!

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The Reason Iago Speaks Very Differently In The New Aladdin, According To Guy Ritchie

Jafar and Iago in Aladdin 2019

There are a lot of classic elements of the animated Aladdin still present in the new remake – from the colorful antics of the genie, to all the songs that have been stuck in your head for the last 27 years – but one aspect that is changed quite a bit is the presence of Iago. The parrot is still the right hand of the power-hungry Jafar, and regularly feeds him information that drives the plot forward, but as a character he is very different than what fans are familiar with. Rather than being an abrasive animal sidekick brought to life with the voice of Gilbert Gottfried, he’s instead, well… a parrot.

It’s an interesting choice that the film makes, particularly because there are still many other magical elements in play, but there is a good reason why it was done. According to director Guy Ritchie, a more anthropomorphic version of Iago in the new Aladdin simply didn’t fit as the story was brought from animation to live-action, and just didn’t feel right within the presentation.

I brought up the character when I recently sat down with Guy Ritchie at the Los Angeles press day for Aladdin, asking how those kinds of decisions were made, and he explained,

Good question, actually, and one I don’t mind talking about, this one, at all. It’s funny what you can get away with in an animated production that can’t, my feeling is, that you can’t get away with in quite the same way in live action. So although you still got magic carpets and blue genies coming out of bottles, [it] still has to be rooted in some form of reality. It’s hard if you have a parrot who has paragraphs of dialogue. Somehow it just sits uncomfortably in a live action production.

Going for a more appropriate adaptation of the character, Aladdin has the new Iago act much more like a scarlet macaw that you would find in real life, albeit with a slightly enhanced ability to speak (he has the occasional line, but nothing on the level of what we hear in the 1992 movie). Physically he’s entirely a digital creation, and the voice is done by Alan Tudyk – who has become a Disney regular in recent years, with parts in Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Ralph Breaks The Internet.

Unlike the human characters, which were easy to adapt from medium to medium, Aladdin’s animals presented a particular puzzle for the filmmakers, but it was a code they eventually cracked. It was all about finding what Guy Ritchie referred to as the “sweet spot” where things didn’t seem out of place or two extreme. Said the director,

There was a sweet spot that we found between animals in their animation or articulation before you went too far and then you went, ‘Oh, hold on. This is live action.’ But as I say, you’re talking about wishes and genies, yet somehow there’s a position that the mind occupies that accepts certain amount of fancy without becoming absurd.

You can watch Guy Ritchie discuss his approach to bringing Iago to life in the new Aladdin by clicking play on the video below!

In addition to Alan Tudyk, Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin sports an impressive ensemble cast that includes Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, and Numan Acar. The movie will be hitting theaters this weekend, and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interviews with the cast and filmmakers!

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Aladdin Live Action Movie: Here’s What We Know

aladdin mena moussad genie will smith 2019

After successfully owning the world of animation, Disney has found a remarkable way to take a second bite at the apple, by remaking all their most popular animated movies in live-action. Following on the success of The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, Disney now has their sights set on the 1990s hit Aladdin. While we expect the movie to be a more or less straight forward remake of the animated classic, not every Disney remake has been done that way, and there’s enough going on here to make us wonder.

Aladdin is one of Disney’s most popular films but part of the reason for that is the iconic performance by Robin Williams, something the remake will have to do without. Will the new film be able to put the pieces together to make yet another memorable movie? Here’s everything that we do, in fact, know about Disney’s upcoming live-action Aladdin.

What Have We Seen From Aladdin?

A few different teasers and trailers have been revealed which have given us a decent taste of the new film. The first gave us a brief look at Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, but little else. The second sneak peek, viewable above, gave us a bit more, a few glimpses at different shots that will look familiar if you know the animated Aladdin well. The biggest thing that we have seen, however, comes at the end of the second teaser, as we get to see Will Smith as the big blue Genie in all his CGI glory.

Aladdin on carpet and jasmine

What Is The Live Action Aladdin Release Date?

Aladdin will arrive in theaters May 24, 2019. This makes it the big Memorial Day weekend release for the year. It will have some competition that weekend going up against the James Gunn produced superhero horror movie Brightburn. The date also makes Aladdin the second of three major Disney remakes coming out in 2019. It will be preceded by Tim Burton’s Dumbo in March and followed by The Lion King in July.

aladdin will smith genie 2019

What Is The Live Action Aladdin Rating?

While PG-13 tends to be the goal rating for most of Disney’s subsidiary brands, like Star Wars and Marvel, the House of Mouse is still all about the family experience. All of the live-action remakes that Disney has made so far have been rated PG and now we know that Aladdin officially has the same rating.

Even if it is directed by the guy who made Snatch, Aladdin isn’t particularly violent or scary and while the transition from animated characters to real people certainly adds an element of reality to the proceedings, it clearly didn’t push the material past a PG rating. And, it sounds like a smart move to keep the movie there, and make sure that as many families as possible can head out to theaters to see Aladdin during the holiday weekend.

Aladdin and Jasmine riding carpet 1992

The Director

Oh, did we mention that part yet? In a move that is either the most brilliant, or utterly insane, decision made by Disney in recent memory, Guy Ritchie has been tapped to direct the live-action Aladdin. The thing is, if you filed the serial numbers off of the plot, there’s a lot that would make a good argument for Ritchie to direct this. The main character is a streetwise orphan who has to outwit the local police in order to survive, before stumbling on a plan to impersonate a prince in order to win his dream girl. The plot is made for Ritchie’s signature style. He loves “street rat” characters, and as long as they don’t make Aladdin swear a lot, this could work

While Guy Ritchie strikes us as an unusual choice, Ritchie himself has said that with his five kids, he knows as much, or more, about kids’ movies as he does any other type of movie. He seems to be fully on board working with Disney and he’s familiar with the product, so we can’t wait to see what the creative director will do with Aladdin.

group hug Aladdin 1992

The Writers

The screenplay for the live action version is a team effort between Guy Ritchie and John August. This will be August’s second Disney script, following up his work on Tim Burton’s stop-motion feature version of Frankenweenie. In fact, August is a frequent Tim Burton collaborator, having worked on the scripts for Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. John August has certainly written some creative stories, which is good for a Disney property, although this is his first screenplay since 2012.

aladdin jasmine naomi scott 2019

What Is The Live Action Aladdin Story?

For the most part, we know what the plot of the live-action Aladdin will be, as it will, more or less, follow the plot of the animated original. “Street Rat” Aladdin gets chosen by Jafar to enter the Cave of Wonders to retrieve a magic lamp, but instead, Aladdin takes the lamp and uses it to become a prince in an attempt to woo Princess Jasmine. The Princess, on the other hand, is dealing with a parade of princely suitors, none of which she’s much interested in because she wants to marry for love, not political reasons. Shenanigans ensue.

Of course, how closely Disney’s remakes actually stay to the previous version has varied across films. While Beauty and the Beast was an incredibly faithful remake, Cinderella added a great deal of new material and character development to the hero. The Jungle Book contained some of the animated versions’ original music while Beauty and the Beast was a full musical. The success of Beauty and the Beast might lead Disney toward a more faithful remake, yet we just can’t see Guy Ritchie making an entirely traditional Disney movie. Several details that we do have indicate there will be at least some differences to set the live-action Aladdin apart from its predecessor.

aladdin musical number 2019

The Music

One way in which the live-action Aladdin is expected to follow in the footsteps of Beauty and the Beast is by adding music. Early word from the Aladdin casting process was that they were having some difficulty casting the lead roles of Aladdin and Jasmine because it was difficult to find actors who met all of their requirements. One of those requirements was the ability to sing. This would certainly seem to confirm that the new Aladdin will include all the musical numbers that the original version did.

Beauty and the Beast also included new music, and we’ve found out that Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the songwriters behind The Greatest Showman and La La Land, have collaborated with Alan Menken on two new songs for the film. There’s also the possibility that music from the Broadway production could also make its way into the movie.

Will Smith as Genie in Aladdin

The Genie

The movie may be called Aladdin, but when you think about Disney’s animated movie, you think first of the Genie, voiced to perfection by the great Robin Williams. There’s no replacing Williams in the role, so Guy Ritchie and Disney have apparently decided the best way to cast the role is to go for something totally different. Will Smith is on board to play the Genie in the live-action remake. This could be an utterly brilliant decision as Smith is an actor with endless amounts of personality, while at the same time, that personality is completely different from that of Williams.

We actually found out at CinemaCon 2018 that this version of the character is being described as “a little Fresh Prince, a little Hitch, and a whole lot of attitude,” which makes sense, considering who’s playing him. This movie might not be about the Genie, be he’s the character that’s going to hold the film together, so let’s hope that characterization works with everything else they have planned.

Our first look at the blue Genie was met by a lot of questions from fans, as most people were not over the moon for the design. Having said that, pictures of Will Smith that appeared shortly after, plus new teases of the movie, show the Genie looking exactly like a human, which would seem to imply he will spend a lot of time in disguise, something the animated Genie never did.

aladdin 2019 mena massoud

Aladdin

The title role in Aladdin will be played by Mena Massoud. While not strictly a newcomer to Hollywood, he’s not a household name by any means. Massoud has primarily been a TV actor up to this point, and he’s been seen in Amazon’s Jack Ryan series. Indications had been that filmmakers were looking for an unknown actor for the role and so it appears that Massoud might be exactly what they need, an actor who’s not recognizable from any other role, but who has a significant amount of experience.

As far as we can tell, Massoud has no significant singing experience, which could mean he has natural talent that he’s never explored, or it could mean he spent pre-production working with a voice coach.

Jasmine aladdin 2019

Jasmine

Aladdin’s better half will be played by the slightly better known Naomi Scott. Scott most recently introduced herself to film audiences in the role of Kimberly, the Pink Ranger, in the Power Rangers movie. Scott’s name was long rumored to be in consideration and at the most recent D23 Expo in 2017, it was confirmed that she’d be in the one in the role. Scott got her start with singing before she was an actress so she has the musical ability the role will require. Scott will also be seen this year in Elizabeth Banks highly anticipated Charlie’s Angels film.

Jafar aladdin 2019

Jafar

If there’s one thing Disney animated films almost always get right, it’s the villain, and Aladdin‘s Jafar is one of the all-time greats. Marwan Kenzari will take on the role of the Sultan’s Grand Vizir. Recently, Kenzari has had significant roles in movies like The Mummy and The Promise, but playing the big bad in a Disney movie will almost certainly be the actor’s big debut for mass audiences. We just hope he’s practicing his evil laugh. Also probably his singing, as we can’t tell if he’s ever really done that before.

The Sultan aladdin 1992

The Sultan

Jasmine’s father, the Sultan of Agrabah, isn’t necessarily a starring role, but it is an important one. In the live-action adaptation, Navid Negahban will play the part. In the animated film the character was something of a clueless buffoon. Negahban doesn’t tend to play that sort of character, which makes me think the Sultan will be a bit smarter this time around.

Abu aladdin 2019

The Animal Characters

While the vast majority of Aladdin characters are human or humanoid, some of them fall into the classic Disney category of talking animals. Disney proved with The Jungle Book that they were capable of creating CGI animals that interact realistically with people, but it appears the plan for Aladdin is just to use actual animals for the parts. In the original Aladdin Jasmine’s tiger Rajah and Aladdin’s pet monkey Abu were little more than animals that they appeared to be. They could communicate wit humans but could not speak. Jafar’s parrot Iago was a different sort of creature, capable of full speech humans could understand. As far as we can tell from the trailers, Iago will be in the film along with Abu and Rajah, but they’ll just be animals.

aladdin nasim pedrad naomi scott 2019

New Characters

In addition to all of the old characters who will be back, we do know that the live-action Aladdin will introduce a trio of new characters. Former Saturday Night Live alum Nasim Pedrad has been cast in the new role of Mara. Mara is described as a handmade and friend of Princess Jasmine. The role is being called a comedic supporting role, which seems perfect given Pedrad’s previous work. It’s also a welcome addition considering that the original animated film really only had the one female role.

In addition, Numan Acar has been cast in the role of Hakim, the chief of the guards who is described as the right-hand man of Jafar. This could indicate that since Iago will not be Jafar’s partner in crime, Hakim could be taking on the position of Jafar’s go-to subordinate. Overall, the role sounds to be very much like the animated film’s character named Razoul, who was the head of Agrabah’s guard, but had no particular love for Jafar in that version.

Lastly, actor Billy Magnussen, who showed off his singing chops in Into the Woods as well as appearing in Game Night, Ingrid Goes West and American Crime Story, has signed on to play the role of Prince Anders. Right now, we don’t know anything about this character or how he’ll fit into the narrative, but it’s possible that he’ll end up being one of the many potential suitors for Princess Jasmine.

We’re only a couple of days away from Aladdin‘s debut in theaters, so be sure to keep an eye on this guide for the latest updates!

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10 Great Movies Coming To Netflix In June 2019

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch watching a monitor with his headset on

Every month brings its own share of treasure with the periodic updating of the Netflix streaming roster. But taking a look at what’s headed our way in June, it’s hard to think of a month that beats some of the stuff that’s headed our way. In particular, there’s 10 titles coming into view that have us looking to update our queues on a basis frequent enough to be considered addictive.

If you’re curious about the total incoming lineup for June, head on over to our complete rundown. Otherwise, it’s time to head into the future, and see the Netflix streaming titles we’re ready to watch at the push of a button.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Miles gazing at the original Spider Suit in a case

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Right out of the gate, June was going to be a winner the moment that Netflix announced Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was going to become a part of their line-up. A film that has a legitimate claim to the title of “Best Spider-Man Film Ever,” the adventures of Miles Morales and a slew of other Spider-People blew everyone’s minds upon its release towards the end of last year. Now, after all of the awards and all of the hoopla has died down, it’s time to start it up again with an even wider audience to reach this time around.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence David, Teddy, and Joe walking through the streets of Rouge City

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

For years, Steven Spielberg refused to direct A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, a project that started with Stanley Kubrick’s vision of a robotic retelling of Pinocchio. With Kubrick conspiring with Spielberg to flesh out his vision for the story of Haley Joel Osment’s David, an automaton who could truly love, the idea would eventually become a reality once the legendary mind behind A Clockwork Orange passed away. The end result is a vision worth of Stanley Kubrick’s faith in Steven Spielberg being able to do the project, and remains one of his most underrated films in his canon.

Network Howard Beale makes his witness in front of a stained glass window

Network

Some movies call the shot years, or even decades, before the events they predict come to be in reality. Network is one of those films, as writer Paddy Chayefsky’s biting satire of sensationalism in the news media seems more like a tragedy than a dark edged comedy in our trying times. With the Broadway adaptation starring Bryan Cranston being nominated for several Tony awards, and set to close its blockbuster run in the beginning of June, it feels like the right time to bring the film version of Howard Beale’s antics, with Peter Finch in the role he made famous, back to the world of streaming services.

Good Night, and Good Luck. Edward R. Murrow sits on a console, in a smoky newsroom

Good Night, And Good Luck

While we’re on the subject of journalism, director George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck will also be available on Netflix’s streaming library in June. Based on the true story of television news anchor Edward R. Murrow, and his team’s investigation into the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, David Strathairn stars as Murrow in an all-star cast that includes Clooney, Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson and Robert Downey Jr. A biopic that remains compelling all the way through, Good Night, and Good Luck is a firm reminded of how important the practice of journalism is, no matter what the era.

Small Soldiers Archer faces off against Chip on a shelf

Small Soldiers

Joe Dante is one of those directors who has a stable of films so unique, they could only have been made by him. And in the fine tradition of Gremlins and The ‘Burbs, Small Soldiers is another one of those gems that stand out in his line of proudly weird films. With two factions of warring toys tearing apart a sleepy, suburban town, the film was one of Dreamworks’ earliest motion pictures in theaters, debuting shortly after its launch. But even with the late ‘90s era it incorporates into key moments of the film, Small Soldiers is still a ‘50s inspired sci-fi romp, much like most of the director’s other films.

The Dark Knight Joker shows his card to the crowd

The Dark Knight

It’s starting to feel like Netflix likes to add and subtract The Dark Knight from their lineup as often as people change their car’s air fresheners. And who can blame them? The second entry in the Christopher Nolan-directed Dark Knight Trilogy pits Christian Bale’s Batman against the late Heath Ledger’s Joker, with the soul of Gotham City at stake in their battle of wits. It’s been over a decade since it first debuted, and yet The Dark Knight still holds up to the test of time. Whether you watch it as a standalone experience or pair it with the also-returning Batman Begins, a perfectly good flashback is waiting for you in your own personal box office.

50/50 Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen sit outside, and have a laugh

50/50

With Long Shot currently in theaters, moviegoers are enjoying director Jonathan Levine’s deft hand at portraying laughter and emotion in equal turn. And whether you’re already a fan of his work doing such feats, or have just become accustomed to them in your own time, 50/50 is another good reminder of how good he is at what he does. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Long Shot co-star Seth Rogen, the film is modeled the true story of Will Reiser, who, much like his fictional surrogate played by Gordon-Levitt, was struck with cancer in his mid-20s. At times hysterical and at times devastating, the film is an entertaining ride that will require tissues, but rewards you with deeply felt jokes at the same time.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Cindy-Lou and The Grinch share a dinner

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch

Illumination has tried its hand at adapting the works of the late, great Dr. Seuss in the past, with The Lorax being a previous claim to fame for the animation powerhouse. With last year’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, the studio was able to not only outdo its high water mark in the world of Seussian magic, it also put a pretty fresh spin on an old classic. With Benedict Cumberbatch’s Grinch, we not only get to see more of what turned him into such a sourpuss, but we also see more of an effective transformation than we’ve ever seen before. As cute as it is funny, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch can still be enjoyed outside of the festive holiday time frame, as long as you keep an open mind.

Carrie drenched in blood at the prom

Carrie

If Tabitha King had never fished the manuscript for Carrie out of the trash, we’d never have gotten the best-selling novel from Stephen King’s hand. Nor would we have ever gotten the classic film adaptation that director Brian DePalma would eventually terrorize teenagers with in the ‘70s. Featuring young Sissy Spacek as the shy girl who would eventually become a psychokinetic terror, the slow burn of her transformation is something that horror fans still admire to this day. Also, if you’ve ever wanted to hear John Travolta shout, “Git ‘er done,” you’ve got that added bonus coming your way if you choose to watch Carrie.

Cabaret Sally performing her act on the stage

Cabaret

Maybe it’s because FX’s Fosse/Verdon has been diving into the creation of director Bob Fosse’s most iconic works, alongside a dissection of his darkest demons in life. Maybe it’s even the sort of darkening clouds that our culture feels have been upon them for some time. Whatever the reason, having Netflix bring the film version of Cabaret to its streaming lineup sounds like a fantastic idea for this moment. A film that delivered Fosse his resurrection as a filmmaker, it’s a dark and glitzy musical that shows the rise of Nazism in early Germany, with an increasingly dismal tone. If you’re looking for a purely good time, steer clear of this story; but if you’re not afraid to go places most musicals won’t, Cabaret will greet you with a warm wilkommen.

While there’s plenty of fresh air and sunshine headed our way in the next month, consider these upcoming Netflix addtions as the best ways to spend those rainy days that keep you cooped up inside. Or they could even be fantastic distractions for a day when it’s perfectly fine outside, but you’re in that special mood of movie watching.

Keep in mind, these titles are subject to change, so you may need to double check the availability of these films periodically. Also, if you want to see what the best and brightest titles from May’s incoming lineup happened to be, head over to last month’s rundown and fill out your queue! We’ll see you here next month, when we look at the top tier titles from July’s fresh batch of films.

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Avengers: Infinity War Almost Had Captain America And Sharon Carter Living Together

Warning: SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame ahead!

When we reunite with Captain America in Avengers: Infinity War, we get the impression that he and fellow fugitive Black Widow have been conducting clandestine missions on their own outside of the law. Cap and Nat enter the film right in the middle of the action though, so we never really get clear answers on what they’ve been up to other than that or their living situation in the two years since Captain America: Civil War.

The assumption is that they have either been living on the run or basing themselves out of Wakanda. However, according to screenwriters Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, Infinity War almost had Captain America and Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter living together. The Marvel scribes said:

In an effort to address all the lingering plot threads in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including the heroes’ various romantic entanglements, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely initially had Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers living with Sharon Carter in Avengers: Infinity War, as they told Yahoo Entertainment. This setup would have continued the relationship between the two characters that started in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

But despite the function it would have served, addressing a lingering plot thread and providing some background for what Cap was up to and where he has been in the two years since Civil War, this part of the script got the axe. Elsewhere in the interview, the screenwriters said that anything that didn’t really propel the plot forward of the fast-paced film had to go. As they’ve said in the past, there simply wasn’t time for “previously on the life of Steve Rogers.”

What exactly the reason that led Kevin Feige to hilariously wonder ‘what the hell’ they were doing by having Cap and Sharon live together is unclear. Although I expect, if having Cap and Sharon live together was part of a romance between the characters, I’m not sure many people would have loved the idea of having the two in a troubled relationship. Nobody wants to see Cap be a bad boyfriend.

If Sharon Carter was included though, and she and Steve were on the rocks, her potentially dying in the Snap would have affected him in a major way. Beyond just being one more person Cap lost that meant something to him, it would have had an extra sting because it would have made their domestic struggles seem insignificant.

The great niece of Peggy Carter was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent living undercover as Steve’s neighbor and spying on him for Nick Fury. She eventually helped Cap fight Hydra and then joined the CIA. In Captain America: Civil War, Sharon Carter helped Steve, Bucky and Sam when they were on the run, getting them their equipment back, including Cap’s shield.

After this assist, Captain America and Sharon Carter share their first kiss. Therefore it wouldn’t have been out of left field to see these two in an actual relationship and living together. Of course, with the government presumably after them both at that point, it would make sense for their relationship to be a little strained.

We haven’t seen Sharon Carter since Captain America: Civil War and it would have been nice to get some closure on her relationship with Steve Rogers, but Avengers: Infinity War didn’t need it and turned out great without it. You can still include Steven and Sharon living together in your head-canon if you want, but given how he goes back to Peggy at the end of Avengers: Endgame, it’s probably best to forget their brief tryst.

Just because she and Steve never got to live a blissful domestic life together on the big screen doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter in the MCU. The actress is in talks to reprise her role for the Falcon & Winter Soldier mini-series on Disney+ alongside Daniel Brühl’s Zemo.

What is Disney Movie Rewards? How Does It Work?

Fake Disney DVDs from Zootopia

Whether you’re buying Blu-ray discs or going to the theater, movies can be an expensive form of entertainment. It would be nice to be able to get something a little more out of it. Luckily, if you’re a Disney fan (and let’s be honest, who isn’t a fan of something from Disney these days), there is a way to get a little something more out of your movie experience through Disney Movie Rewards.

But what is Disney Movie Rewards and how does it work? It it worthwhile to get an account? Below you’ll find answers to all your Disney Movie Rewards Questions.

Judy Hobby and Nick Wild at the DMV in Zootopia

What is Disney Movie Rewards?

Disney Movie Rewards is essentially a loyalty program. It’s not that different from the programs you might use at your local supermarket or coffee shop. While those might get you a free latte now and then after you buy several of your own, Disney Movie Rewards does the same thing for movies. Purchase Disney films on Blu-ray or buy tickets to see them in the theater and you’ll earn points.

Then, you take those points and redeem them for Disney-related stuff. You can turn right around and buy more Blu-rays or movie tickets, or you can buy Disney stuff like t-shirts, Disney gift cards or even a tour of the Walt Disney Studios, though I’ll tell you, you have to buy a lot of Blu-Rays to earn that one.

How Do I Get My Disney Movie Rewards?

The first thing to do is set up an account on the Disney Movie Rewards website. It doesn’t cost anything, which means it doesn’t require even giving up a credit card number. All you need to do is create a username with an email address and then make a password.

Once you have the account, you can start accruing points. The main way to ear Disney Movie Rewards is by buying stuff. If you purchase a Disney Blu-Ray or DVD that has a Disney Movie Rewards logo on the outside, inside the case, you’ll find a piece of paper with a code on it. Simply input the number on the Disney Movie Rewards home page and you’ll get your points. Points vary on discs between around 50 and 200 points, depending on what version of a disc you buy.

Getting points for buying movie tickets is a bit more involved. In that case, you’ll need to make sure you keep your ticket stub and be sure it actually says the name of the Disney movie in question. Select the movie you saw on the Disney Movie Rewards site and you’ll be given a unique ID number. Write that number on your ticket, then take a picture of the ticket and upload the photo to the Disney Movie rewards website. Tickets are usually good for about 75 points.

Another thing to keep in mind is that points can only be earned on tickets for movies currently in theaters, so you don’t want to stock up on your tickets and try to redeem them all at once. Be sure to get your points as soon as you can so you don’t miss your window.

However, there is an easier way to get your ticket purchases added to your Disney Movie Rewards account. Disney Movie Rewards allows you to link your Rewards account to Atom Tickets, Fandango VIP and the Regal Crown Club. This means that if you buy tickets to a Disney movie through one of these online sites, your points will be automatically added to your Disney Movie Rewards account.

The other purchasable item that earns you points is Disney music. Many Disney movie soundtracks, as well as the popular collectible, vinyl “picture discs,” are good for 100 points or more.

Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi

How Do I Use My Disney Movie Rewards?

Once you have enough points to redeem them for something you want, simply go to the Disney Movie Rewards website, log in and select the item. If it’s an item that requires physical shipping, like a movie poster or DVD, you have the choice of paying for shipping and handling separately, or using additional points to cover the cost, so you really can get something for no additional cost to you.

Do Disney Movie Reward Points Expire?

Disney Movie Reward points only expire if your Disney Movie Rewards account sees no activity for 365 consecutive days. This means as long as you add points to your account or redeem points for something once a year, your points won’t go anywhere. With the frequency with which Disney releases new movies in theaters and on Blu-ray, odds are you’ll be spending money on at least one a year.

One nice way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to log in and take the Disney Challenge. This is a brief Disney trivia quiz that won’t take you more than a minute to complete. Doing so will earn you all of five points (unless you’re really good, in that case you can get bonuses), but those five points will keep your account active for another year.

Rapunzel and Flynn on a boat in Tangled

Do I Need To Cancel Disney Movie Rewards?

There isn’t really much need to cancel your account. You can certainly do so, but Disney Movie Rewards doesn’t cost anything, so even if you decide to stop using it, you can just ignore it and let it go.

Can I Get Disney Movie Rewards Points For Digital Movies?

At this point, purchases of Disney movies through digital storefronts cannot be used to earn Disney Movie Rewards points, although based on the Disney Movie Reward FAQ, it sounds like the implementation of such a thing could happen, so keep checking back.

Genie in Aladdin

Is Disney Movie Rewards Worth It?

Disney Movie Rewards doesn’t cost you anything beyond the money you were probably going to be spending on Disney movies anyway, but does that mean it’s obviously something you should do?

Most of the rewards are some pretty simple stuff like movie posters and t-shirts, and if they end up having something you want, that’s great. However, little of seems like “must have” merch. Still, is there a better cost than free?

A Blu-ray disc goes for something like 700-800 points, and if you receive 150 points for buying one, you end up getting a movie free for every five you buy, which is a pretty decent ratio so if you’re building a serious Disney movie collection, it’s worth incorporating Disney Movie Rewards into that plan. This goes double if you join the Disney Movie Club, as most of those movies will earn you points alongside your obligation to the club.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the latest and greatest news concerning Disney. The company’s latest movie, the live action Aladdin remake, hits theaters this Friday, May 24.

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Brightburn Reviews Are In, Here’s What The Critics Think

Jackson A. Dunn in Brightburn

The last several years have been good to superhero movies and horror movies, as those genres have delivered many cinematic offerings that have been met with critical and/or commercial success. This weekend, the two genres are being merged together for Brightburn, the twisted, R-rated story during by David Yarovesky and produced by James Gunn that shows what would happen if a Superman-like figure became a force for evil, using superpowers like super strength, flight and heat vision to wreak havoc on humanity.

With Brightburn only days away from release, reviews for the movie have started coming in, and it looks like it’s fallen into mixed territory, with some appreciating the story and others being underwhelmed by it. CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg gave Brightburn 4 out of 5 stars in his review, saying that it’s not filled with “big, complex contemplations,” but nonetheless succeeds in delivering a number of “fantastic shudder/scream-inducing sequences” and boasting a great cast.

Brightburn is ultimately a fine example of high-concept storytelling: taking an easily digestible idea, and exploring it to its full potential in compelling and entertaining fashion.

io9’s Germain Lussier wasn’t as kind towards Brightburn, writing in his review that although he would have watched a sequel right after Brightburn concluded, overall it’s a “poorly told story.” While Brightburn works within the horror genre structure in how it shows the young Brandon Beyer giving in to his dark impulses and some of the later payoffs and reveals are “satisfying,” the movie as a whole suffered from poor execution, which Lussier speculates might have been fixed had James Gunn directed.

Alas, Brightburn is a competent movie crafted out of incredible ideas. It’s gross, interesting, scary, and has fascinating mythology, all of which would be so much better if nearly all of it wasn’t delivered in such an obtuse way. Still, this is a story worth telling with characters we’d love to see again. Maybe next time, though, with a bit more care taken as to how the story is presented.

Back on the more positive end of the spectrum, Witney Seibold from IGN awarded Brightburn a 7.1 out of 10 score. Seibold noted that many of us have similarly deconstructed Superman, which might make the movie feel “weirdly familiar,” and that rather than providing dark commentary on how power corrupts, Brightburn plays out like a standard slasher, making for a “perfectly entertaining” experience.

… A wickedly fun little horror flick with enough gore and superhero lore to keep fans of both satisfied.

Conversely, The Wrap’s Robert Abele was disappointed by Brightburn, saying that its idea of showing an evil Superman isn’t enough to sustain an entire movie and will not please “either horror aficionados or even a caped-crusader fandom hungry for variations on the theme.” The main character is unremarkable and there’s little weight to the actions his parents take when trying to stop his rampage.

But while we can perhaps be grateful that the superficiality of “Brightburn” probably kept it from opting to exploit elements of disturbed-kid narratives that have been all too common in our more tragic news stories, what remains is still never terribly entertaining as either popcorn or a bent take on superhero myths.

Chris Evangelista from Slashfilm was more receptive towards Brightburn, stamping a 7.5 out of 10 score on it and calling it a “bleak, brutal subversion of the Superman mythos” that works. As mentioned earlier, this isn’t a story where redemption is on the table, and Evangelista notes that there a “nihilistic streak” that reminded him of the Rob Zombie Halloween remake. While Elizabeth Banks’ part is “disappointingly underwritten,” it’s David Yarovesky’s direction that keeps Brightburn “flying high.”

Nasty is indeed the name of the game here – Brightburn is cold and unflinching, fully committed to unsettling its audience. It’s the type of movie that will make you thank your lucky stars that superheroes don’t really exist.

The AV Club’s Jesse Hassenger was among those underwhelmed by Brightburn, giving it a C- grade. In Hassenger’s opinion, the movie doesn’t have a “modicum of wit or insight on its human side,” resulting in Brandon’s parents being terribly predictable, and Brandon himself fails to be interesting. Ultimately, Hassenger saw Brightburn primarily as a dunk on Zack Snyder’s depiction of Superman in the DC Extended Universe.

For such a specific, clever-on-paper idea, Brightburn follows a shockingly predictable turn of events, possibly because it has few reference points beyond other pop-culture stories.

Finally, William Bibbiani from Bloody Disgusting bestowed Brightburn a 3.5 out of 5 score, calling it a “exceedingly clever genre mash-up,” albeit a gross one, both literally and figuratively. The movie also doesn’t feel quite “genuine,” and it’s Brandon’s parents that infuse a sense of humanity in the proceedings, but Bibbiani concludes that after watching Brightburn, you’ll be left wanting more, signifying franchise potential.

The film is, in the end, mostly just an ambitious slasher movie about a monster modeled loosely on Superman, and on that level it’s certainly a success. David Yarovesky makes an impressive impression with a film that walks a fine line between wry pop culture commentary and genuine terror, the cast is great and – perhaps most important of all – it leaves you wanting more. Much more. Sequels and sequels after sequels.

These are just some of the reviews out for Brightburn, so feel free to venture into other corners of the internet find out what other critics are saying. Overall, it sounds like Brightburn won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but there are at least a scattering of moments for comic book and/or horror fans to enjoy.

Brightburn’s main cast includes Jackson A. Dunn, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Steve Agee and Becky Wahlstrom. The movie is already playing in various territories worldwide, but it’ll have some competition this weekend in the form of Disney’s live action Aladdin remake and the Olivia Wilde-directed Booksmart.

You can judge Brightburn for yourself starting this Friday, May 24, and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more coverage on the movie. In the meantime, you can plan your visits to the theater for the rest of the year accordingly by checking out our 2019 release schedule.

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The Best Romantic Comedies To Watch On A First Date

Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon - The Big Sick

It’s date night and what better plan for a date night than romantic comedies? After all, you want things to go as perfectly as possible, particularly given it’s not merely any ordinary date night; it’s your first date. If things go south, there might not be a second chance. So you need the best romantic comedies that will set the mood. Something that will make you laugh, maybe even cry and hopefully propel a future relationship. Or, at least, a chance at a second date. In short, if you want the perfect date, you need the perfect movie. But what exactly are you gonna watch?

There are so many romantic comedies out there, hundreds of them, honestly. Your selections are vast and plentiful. Yet, you don’t want to settle for something average… or worse. You want a darn good romantic comedy film. No, you want a great one.

We’re here to help. Here are just a few great romantic movies to watch on your first date. Because we can’t guarantee things will work out between you two, but we can assure you that these movies are worth your while. Pop them in — or, more likely, find them on your favorite streaming service — and let the romance sing. Thank us later.

Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell’s exhilarating, enrapturing romantic dramedy Silver Linings Playbook is one of the few recent rom-coms that made its way into critics’ top ten lists and heavy Oscar consideration. As well it should, too. The romantic comedy, which made Bradley Cooper a dramatic heavyweight and earned Jennifer Lawrence her first (and, to date, only) Oscar, is a firecracker of a movie. How the sparks do fly! Centered around former teacher Pat (Cooper), who has just been released from a mental institution after an incident, is living with his parents and trying to reconnect with his ex-wife. That presents several challenges, of course. And a few more come into play when Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence), who begins to change Pat’s perspective on life.

Somewhat loosely based on the Matthew Quick’s debut novel of the same name, which is also well worth a read if you find the time, Silver Linings Playbook is a film that deals with the difficulties of life in a high-turmoil fashion that relates to the character’s point of view. Through the excellent performances, wonderfully grounded character work and the magnificent direction of David O. Russell, it results in a  captivating and stimulating romantic comedy that you certainly don’t want to miss. Here’s your silver lining indeed.

Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke - Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

In Richard Linklater’s delightfully quaint Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy find themselves in a meet-cute that lasts throughout the entirety of the film’s length. As two young starry-eyed dreamers traveling through Europe with big ideas in mind for their future and idealism in their hearts, they begin to form a casual friendship that is explosively charismatic to everyone but them. As they walk and talk through their European destination, however, it even becomes apparent to them that love is in bloom.

Few movies capture the wondrous feeling of falling in love quite as honestly and realistically as Before Sunrise. Through the magnetic chemistry of our leads, the fantastically thoughtful dialogue they’re give and the casual confidence of the director-screenwriter Richard Linklater, Before Sunrise has gone one to be one of the most beloved romantic comedies of the ’90s, and it spawned a trilogy of films reconnecting these two characters every nine or ten years. In fact, this series has aged like fine wine. You can save those two for future date nights, however. They’re well worth it.

Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan - When Harry Met Sally...

When Harry Met Sally…

Particularly for folks who like their romantic comedies a little more mature and lovelorn, When Harry Met Sally… is a golden ticket for any date night. The film centers around two characters who begin to fall in love with each other throughout 12 years of casual encounters, and it’s the type of rom-com that doesn’t like to play by expected rules. It uses witty banter from the late, great screenwriter Nora Ephron to not only spice things up but to give the film its emotional heft, and it relies on the evolving-yet-also-instantaneous chemistry between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan to make this one of the best romantic comedies for a date night.

In my opinion, at least, director Rob Reiner has typically (or, at least, often) been at his best inside the romantic comedy genre (as I’ll explain in more detail later). And When Harry Met Sally… remains one of his best movies. More than that, it’s one of the best romantic comedies of the 20th century, producing a number of timeless quotes and winning romance to make any date night the perfect occasion to be introduced to this beloved cinematic couple. Feel free to meet these characters yourself when you bring them into your next date night.

Cary Elwes, Robin Wright - The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride

You can never go wrong with another of Rob Reiner’s classics, The Princess Bride. It’s a fantasy film that has been quoted more times than the Bible — at least by some pop culture aficionados — and it certainly has a warm place in many people’s hearts. There’s a good reason this romantic comedy has resonated. It’s a film that doesn’t fit into any neat boxes, and it’s a film that can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages and fans of nearly all genres. It’s got action, comedy, drama and swashbuckling extravaganzas in addition to the romance, but it is first-and-foremost a love story. And a very sweeping one at that.

Robin Wright and Cary Elwes share fantastic chemistry together in this love story fable, sharing a delicate-yet-adventurous romance that is easy to enjoy and even easier to be swept by. The work of a filmmaker on a Hollywood hot streak and the type of cinematic fable that unfortunately only comes one in a generation, if that, The Princess Bride is certainly one that’s easy to enjoy with your date, whether it’s your first or 400th. That’s far from inconceivable.

Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck - Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday

It’s hard to go wrong with Audrey Hepburn. The actress has appeared in no shortage of classic titles, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sabrina, Funny Face, My Fair Lady, Charade and Best Picture winner, The Apartment, to only name a few. But when it comes to her early days of cinema, you would be hard-pressed to find many cinematic romances better than the one Hepburn shared with Gregory Peck in 1953’s Roman Holiday.

The romantic comedy that paved the way for many more after it, this trendsetter of a romantic comedy has everything: laughs, drama, European backdrops and more. It’s a lovely, gorgeous little movie, and the romance between the two leads is downright infectious. (Obviously, quite charming too.) Ultimately, when it comes to Roman Holiday, Aubrey Hepburn may quickly help you to fall in love with the idea of your own holiday away.

Nick Robinson - Love, Simon

Love, Simon

In Greg Berlanti’s tender, affectionate LGBTQ teen drama, Love, Simon, Nick Robinson plays the title character, a teenager who keeps his homosexuality identity a secret from his friends and family. Based on the YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the film paints a well-realized protagonist who is gradually learning to accept himself and be true to himself. Particularly as he forms a pen pal e-mail correspondence with another closeted gay man in his class known only to Simon as “Blue.”

A compassionate and caring movie that provides as many laughs as it does sweeping drama moments, it’s a film that allows you to go through several different feelings all throughout the course of nearly two hours. Particularly as the central romance comes into fruition towards the film’s final moments. While this movie might work best for younger audiences, Love, Simon should win over hearts of all ages.

Zoe Kazan, Kumail Ninjani - The Big Sick

The Big Sick

Real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon turned their turbulent off-screen romance into a romantic comedy for the ages in The Big Sick. Directed by Michael Showalter and written by Nanjiani and Gordon, the film stars Nanjiani as a fictionalized version of himself, while Zoe Kazan plays Emily. As the story unfolds, struggling comedian Kumail and graduate student Emily meet cute over the course of several weeks, only to be met with a strain in their relationship when Emily contracts a mysterious illness which puts her in a coma and her life potentially on the line.

Since the writers of the film have gone on to make the film a reality, we know that it’s going to work out for them throughout the course of the film. Nevertheless, as Kumail interacts with Emily’s parents, played wonderfully by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano, and the comedian begins to find himself in spite of his family expectations, you find yourself with a beautifully realized, gorgeously human tale of life, romance and identity that plays a lot of the expected romantic comedy beats while still finding a new way to make it all feel real. The result is one of the best romantic comedies of the ’10s.

Of course, these are only a few options made available to you. There are several other selections to be found, and there’s always a chance that these movies won’t float your boat. Because hey, not every movie will work for everyone. Nevertheless, if you are in a pinch and you want a date movie that will (hopefully) set the night off on a right note, you can certainly do worse than the movies listed here. Here’s hoping it works out!

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An Update On Daniel Craig’s Bond 25 Injury

It’s been a long and difficult road getting Bond 25 to the big screen, and earlier this month, it was dealt another blow when it was reported that Daniel Craig suffered an injury during filming in Jamaica. Apparently the actor slipped while running, resulting in an ankle injury that caused the production to be temporarily suspended. Now there is an official update on the status of Daniel Craig and Bond 25. Check it out:

Daniel Craig’s ankle injury will unfortunately require surgery to repair, but the fact that it is minor surgery at least indicates that the injury is perhaps not as bad as it initially appeared or could have been. It sounds like he will be back on his feet pretty quickly too, with only two weeks of physical rehabilitation after he undergoes the surgery.

Following the initial report of Daniel Craig’s injury, we heard that production on Bond 25 would be only be briefly suspended, and that seems to be the case. According to the official James Bond Twitter account, production on Bond 25 will continue while Daniel Craig is rehabilitating. That might not have been possible had Daniel Craig’s injury been more severe and required a longer recovery time.

Fortunately, similar to what happened with Tom Cruise’s injury on Mission: Impossible – Fallout, work will still be done on Bond 25 while Daniel Craig recovers. So despite the previous delays and the potentially catastrophic consequences of a Daniel Craig injury, Bond 25 is still on track to meet its April 2020 release date.

Supposedly Daniel Craig was filming a scene where he was running when he slipped and fell in an awkward way that resulted in an extremely painful injury. This isn’t the first injury Daniel Craig has suffered as a part of his time as 007, as his tenure as the spy has been plagued with injuries from the start.

From losing teeth on Casino Royale to losing the tip of his finger and tearing a muscle on Quantum of Solace to injuring his knee on Spectre to his latest ankle injury on Bond 25, it is no wonder that Daniel Craig has on occasion been quite hyperbolic in describing his reticence to return to the franchise. Are you sure you want the role, Richard Madden?

Daniel Craig’s injury isn’t the only problem Bond 25 has faced, as the sequel to 2015’s Spectre has been beset by all manner of problems. Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle left the film over the oft-cited creative differences, and he was replaced by True Detective Season 1 and Beasts of No Nation director Cary Joji Fukunaga.

The script for the film has also went through different writers with a lingering question of if it is even ready now. Oh, for the days when just getting Daniel Craig to return to the role seemed like the biggest impediment to Bond 25.

Despite the slings and arrows it has faced, this latest news is encouraging that Daniel Craig will be okay and that Bond 25 will proceed as scheduled and meet its release date.

The as-yet-unnamed Bond 25 is set to open on April 8, 2020. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all of this year’s biggest movies.

How The Aladdin Live Action, Animated And Broadway Versions Compare To Each Other

Will Smith as the Genie in Aladdin

The following contains some minor SPOILERS for the new remake of Aladdin**.**

Aladdin was a smash hit when it was released by Disney in 1992. It contained one of the greatest animated voice performances ever by Robin Williams, it had an incredible collection of memorable songs and it had a story that combined great action, comedy and romance. It’s no wonder that Aladdin is now getting the live-action remake treatment from Disney in the same way that other successful Disney films have.

Of course, the new theatrical remake isn’t actually the first time the story of Aladdin has been re-told. After Robin Williams, but before Will Smith, Aladdin was adopted for the Broadway stage. How do these three different versions of Aladdin compare to each other, and which is the best version of Aladdin? Let’s break them all down and find out.

Guards dancing in animated aladdin

The Similarities

The Story: First and foremost, the main thing that ties the three versions of Aladdin together is the story. If you’ve seen one version of Aladdin, then you basically know where the story is going when you sit down to watch another version. Aladdin is a homeless thief. He meets a disguised Jasmine in the marketplace and falls for her. He is tricked by Jafar to go after the magic lamp. Aladdin frees the Genie and becomes a prince… etc… etc…

The characters: The majority of the characters are basically the same. Aladdin is still the dreamer who wishes for more in his life. Jasmine still wants to be free to make her own decisions. The Sultan is mostly clueless, and Jafar is just cartoonishly evil, even in the versions that aren’t actually cartoons.

The music: You’ll also find that most of the music is the same, while both the stage and live action film version have additional music that has been added, they also contain all of the songs from the original animated film soundtrack, if not every version of those songs.

What makes these iterations of Aladdin stand out, however, is what they do differently.

The peddler in animated Aladdin

The Differences

The story: While the general structure of the plot is essentially identical across the three versions, there are a few nuanced differences. The animated film and the new live-action one create a framing device which sets up the idea of a character telling us the story of Aladdin. The Broadway show just gives us a basic introduction by the Genie which is implied to be non-diegetic.

While both the animated film and the Broadway show have two major marketplace scenes, the “One Jump Ahead” song and the meeting with Jasmine, the new live action movie combines these into one. Also, in the new movie, instead of being imprisoned after being discovered with the princess, Aladdin breaks into the palace to see Jasmine again and gets nabbed then.

In the animated film, Jafar convinces Aladdin to help him while in disguise, which means he doesn’t know Jafar is dangerous when he meets the real vizier later on. In both the Broadway play and the new film, Aladdin knows he’s working for Jafar the whole time, which puts him (somewhat) on guard later.

The live-action film also contains a significant new scene where Aladdin, in his Prince Ali disguise, tries to woo Jasmine at a party, which helps build the relationship of the two.

While both animated and live-action films have Aladdin using his second wish to avoid drowning. On Broadway, Aladdin is simply thrown in prison but he uses his wish to get free.

The finale of the three stories is also significantly different. On Broadway, Jafar never wishes to make himself a powerful sorcerer (probably because it would have made the show really expensive). Instead, he wishes to make Jasmine his prisoner and to become Sultan.

In the animated film, Aladdin ends up doing battle with Jafar, who has magically transformed himself into a giant snake. In the live-action film, our big action finale is a chase scene as Aladdin and Jasmine try to keep the lamp out of Jafar’s hands while they’re being chased by a magically-enlarged Iago.

The characters: The biggest character changes take place between the animated Aladdin and the Broadway version. While many Disney musicals have used intricate puppets to recreate the parts of animated movies that are difficult to realize on stage, Aladdin avoids this problem by eliminating and changing those characters.

Aladdin’s pet monkey Abu doesn’t make the jump to the stage. Instead, Aladdin has three friends, named Babkak, Omar and Kassim, that he pals around with who are in similar financial and living situations as he is.

Rajah the tiger also doesn’t appear on stage. In his place, Jasmine has three handmaiden characters that she give her somebody to play off of.

Jafar’s pet Iago does slightly better. The character exists, but rather than being a parrot, Iago is a man. He’s just a basic henchman.

The new live-action film uses the realistic CGI that Disney has had such success with to bring Abu and Rajah back. Iago is also a parrot again, though while he does speak, he sounds more like the way a parrot would naturally speak, rather than speaking fully coherent English as he does in the animated film.

Jasmine does, however, still have a single handmaiden character in the new film. The character of Dahlia is much more involved in the story than any of the similar characters from Broadway.

Jasmine herself sees the most interesting evolution across the three versions. She’s mostly a bystander character in the animated movie. Her desire for freedom and to make her own choices are given more time to breathe on Broadway. It’s actually the new movie where the character is fully realized as a much more independent woman.

Jafar is largely identical on Broadway and the animated film. The live-action movie gives the character a little bit of backstory and motivation not present in the other two iterations. He only attempts to actually marry Jasmine in the animated version.

The biggest, and likely most important character change, however, is, of course, the Genie. The animated film gave us a manic Robin Williams. The character makes a host of modern pop culture references and breaks into one impression after another. Will Smith’s Genie in the new Aladdin is essentially, The Fresh Prince of Agrabah, the actor/rapper’s own persona amplified.

While the Robin Williams and Will Smith Genie’s are obviously different in execution, they’re largely the same in result. On Broadway, however, the Genie is quite different. This one is never blue in color. He actually tends to look a lot like Will Smith’s Genie when he’s disguised as human, one way the Broadway show likely influenced the new movie.

The Broadway Genie’s humor is also less pop culture focused. Of course, what modern jokes there are have the potential to change as the stage show is continuously performed, similarly to the way the Aladdin stage show at Disney’s California Adventure was handled, if you’ve ever seen that. You can get a taste of what the stage Genie is like in the clip below.

The music: Using the animated original as our baseline, all the music from that movie makes the jump to Broadway essentially unchanged. Several new songs are also added. “Proud of Your Boy” is actually a song originally written for the animated film that was cut, which has Aladdin singing to his dead mother about his desire to make her proud, a motivation missing from the other versions. Aladdin’s friends have a pair of songs they sing with Aladdin. One precedes Aladdin meeting Jasmine, the other as part of Aladdin getting himself free of the dungeon.

Jafar gets his own full song “Diamond in the Rough” on Broadway. In the live-action film, Jafar’s reprise of the “Prince Ali” song gets cut, so the villain never gets a chance to sing at all.

On Broadway, Jasmine sings about her desire to be free with her handmaidens in the song “These Palace Walls.” In the new live-action movie Jasmine sings “Speechless” about her desire to be able to speak her mind.

Aladdin and the lamp

The Quality

Animated Aladdin: It’s difficult to say much against the original version of the story. By virtue of being the first, it’s the one that is the most creative since it started with nothing. The music is great and Robin Williams just is that great. If there’s a downside to the performance, it’s that some of the pop culture references probably don’t work as well today as they did in 1992. Does anybody remember who Arsenio Hall was?

Broadway Aladdin: The Broadway version is a tough one to judge because the show evolves over time. The show you see in one town isn’t necessarily the same you get a year later in another place. Having said that, none of the additional music from Broadway is going to replace anything from the original soundtrack as your favorite song. Some of the show’s action, like chase scenes, suffer due to the limited space of the stage, and the finale is incredibly rushed. At the same time, the Genie is having a lot of fun on that stage, and that fun can be incredibly infectious.

Live action Aladdin: Will Smith does a good job making the role of the Genie his own, though the CGI on him isn’t perfect. All of the classic music is given a bit of an update, so while they’re still songs you know, they’re not identical, meaning you may want to actually listen to them now and then. The one new song, “Speechless,” is a valiant attempt at a strong anthem for Jasmine, but the song itself feels shoehorned in. Jasmine as a character, however, is at her best in this version.

So Which Is Best?

Each of the three versions have unique things about them which make them each worth seeing, but in the end, both Broadway and the new live-action movie are just trying to reinvent the wheel. Both Broadway and the live-action film basically rely on your love of the original. The nostalgia is a necessary element of both, which the original never needed.

You can judge the live action Aladdin movie for yourself once it hits theaters this Friday, May 24.

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