Now that the Aladdin reviews are pouring in, movie-goers are eager to know if the live-action Genie is as awful as predicted.
Fans began to raise concerns in late 2018, when stills from the Disney remake were posted online. Many quickly blasted the appearance of Will Smith's Genie, claiming he did not adequately resemble the supernatural character depicted in the original animated film. Smith later reassured fans that those images simply showed Genie in his "human/disguise form."
"Yes, I’m gonna be BLUE!" he wrote on Instagram. "[...] My character will be CGI most of the movie."
But the criticism didn't end there. Once we received our first look at Smith's blue Genie, social media users complained that his appearance was less lovable and more frightening. This, of course, led many fans to lower their expectations.
So, was the Genie really that bad? According to the majority of reviews, not at all.
Here's what some of the critics are saying:
"It’s great to see Smith in comedic mode again, and smart of the team to base the Genie’s personality on the star’s brand, rather than imitating what [Robin] Williams did with the role. Even in cases where Smith is quoting directly from the original, his persona comes through loud and clear as this blue-hued, CG-enhanced master of ceremonies." — Variety's Peter Debruge
"Smith, faced with the impossible task of living up to Robin Williams' iconic voice performance, easily makes the role his own. His infectious personality shines throughout, and he even manages to infuse his martini-swilling Genie with moving emotional moments." — The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck
"[Guy] Ritchie pulls out all the stops in 'Prince Ali,' a circus-like production number. Smith, however is the movie’s best special effect. He brings a Fresh Prince sass to the role and wisely never tries to imitate the inimitable Williams. Putting his own spin on Genie’s big song, 'Friend Like Me,' Smith is a comic blast. His scenes with Massoud have a scrappy charge that lift the mood when the plot mechanics get heavy." — Rolling Stone's Peter Travers
"While there’s a certain charm missing from the revamp, Smith goes way over the top to make up for it. For those who've ever wondered what the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air would be like as a middle-aged guy plopped into a bevy of belly dancers and hoofing swordsmen, here you go." — USA Today's Brian Truitt
"Smith gets off to a bit of a slow start as the Genie — or maybe it just takes us a while to get used to someone else putting his stamp on Williams’ rat-a-tat borscht-belt schtick. The actor has signed up for an impossible assignment. But he still gives it everything he’s got, which is a lot." — Entertainment Weekly's Chris Nashawaty
"The most surprising part of Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin isn’t that it’s far better (more fun, more frisky, more coherent) than a string of maligned trailers have let on, it’s that no one ever got the bright idea to rename the whole thing ‘Genie’ and turn all of the film’s attention on Will Smith." — IndieWire's Kate Erbland
The live-action Aladdin hits theaters this Friday.