'Aladdin' stars blame Genie backlash on unfinished CGI: 'Social media can be very harsh'

The cast of Disney’s Aladdin have responded to internet criticism of Will Smith’s version of the Genie, blaming unfinished visual effects for not casting the CGI creation in a good light.

Disney’s Aladdin is a live-action, updated remake of the classic 1992 animated movie, which starred Robin Williams in the role as the iconic blue Genie, who grants Aladdin three wishes when he retrieves a magic lamp from the Cave Of Wonders.

But when the first trailer of Disney’s 2019 Aladdin was released, some fans were critical of Will Smith in the role, unimpressed by the live-action interpretation of the iconic animated character.

When Yahoo interviewed stars of the film Mena Massoud, who stars as Aladdin, and Naomi Scott, who plays Princess Jasmine, they revealed their own feelings about the updated Genie.

“I expected that he would do a good job. But he really takes this to another level,” says Massoud, who plays Aladdin.

Aladdin (Mena Massoud) meets the larger-than-life blue Genie (Will Smith) in Disney's live-action adaptation ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie. (Disney)

“He builds on what Robin did in the original in the sense that he's just authentically the Will Smith that we all know and love, all those different parts of Will that you like. He really combines that in this and it's terrific.”

Naomi Scott, who plays Jasmine, agreed on Will Smith’s comparable performance to the Genie voiced by the late Robin Wiliams saying, “In the original, Robin Williams brought all his personality to that to that role, and he completely revolutionised how you can play those roles. And I think that that's where Will found his ‘in’ for this role.

Mena Massoud is Aladdin and Will Smith is Genie in Disney's live-action ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie. (Disney)

“He has so many different talents, whether it's the hip hop sensibility that he brings, that flavour, his comedy, his musicality, and these are all things that I think he wanted to just bring himself and that's what made him pop on screen.”

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Speaking about the backlash from some fans online to the Will Smith’s version of the live action character when he was first revealed in the film’s initial trailer, Massoud revealed, “I knew the CGI wasn't finished. And it's a work in progress.

“Visual effects often aren't ready until weeks before the film comes out… we live in an era where social media can be very harsh, but you have to believe in the product and what you made.”

Though some critics were concerned particularly about the initial images of the Genie’s big, blue pony-tailed makeup and costume on screen, in the final film, that scepticism seems unwarranted with its effects finished.

Massoud added, “And I know that we all really believe in this film and love it. So I think people, when they see it, will hopefully get behind us.”

Aladdin is in cinemas now. Watch a clip below.