Guy Ritchie Shrugs, Realizes This is Who He Is Now, and Signs On To Direct Disney’s Live-Action…


Remember the director who made Snatch?


Another week, another live-action Disney property edging its way closer to release. Hot off the heels of The Lion King and Mulan, we’re hearing big developments about yet another Disney hit from the 1990’s catalog: 1992’s Aladdin. Considering the fact it’s one of Disney’s most successful modern films, you would think a live-action adaptation would have been a no brainier: that they pulled from the brand recognition of PETE’S DRAGON first really shows how cautious Disney has been approaching this particular remake. But not anymore, apparently, as the company is starting to put together this inevitable “re-imagining”— and has tapped British director Guy Ritchie to do it.

Which, don’t get me wrong, is indeed quite weird. If you told me back in 2002 that the director of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels would be making a live-action remake of the animated Aladdin movie, I would be scratching my head (for a number of reasons, obviously.) But the scruffy, offbeat director of fun, stylish gangster pics has indeed been in the process of a career transformation, starting with the Robert Downey Jr. lead Sherlock Holmes movies and continuing until now. Even stuff that contains his flashy style (I’m thinking last year’s surprisingly solid, but unseen The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) are probably projects most wouldn’t have expected him helming back in his Madonna married, Swept Away days.

But here we are: Guy Ritchie is part of the Disney family now, which is about as weird as saying Quentin Tarantino is making movies for PureFlix. And yet…I’m kind of not against the idea, at least as far as Aladdin is concerned.

No mention of the blue elephant in the room that is Robin William’s Genie character. Can anyone else touch the role in a way similar to Williams? Probably not, which is why I expect something completely different altogether.

Partially, at least. I still think all these Disney adaptation are rather unnecessary (with only Pete’s Dragon in my mind being a counterexample), but Guy Ritchie is certainly a fascinating choice to see tackle the Aladdin story. And even if the idea of Ritchie helming a Disney movie seems bizarre in general, the basic story of Aladdin (a street hooligan stealing something, and then facing the consequences) is surprisingly in his wheelhouse. I mean if you throw on top the Broadway style musical sequences and family friendly tone then it’s a different story, but still: the broad strokes aren’t really all that dissimilar from much of Ritchie’s other work.

And for what it’s worth, Disney does seem to want to make something a little different with this one, as THR describes the project as “ambitious and non-traditional,” while also hyping up the “non-linear” approach to the story. Which once again probably describes Ritchie, at least in his heyday. More confusing is the promise that the film will keep some of its “musical elements” which, hey, kinda goes against the “non-traditional” angle, but whatever. John August will be penning the script, which is cool: he’s a good screenwriter, so hopefully he’ll bring something interesting to the table. And like The Lion King before it, I just kind of want to see what the hell this project is going to be, more so than actually looking forward to the finished film. And if that’s the angle Disney is going to take to get people like me into their live-action remakes…well played, Mouse House.

-Matthew