‘Wish Dragon’ Review: ‘Aladdin’ Goes to Shanghai, Sort Of


In the participating animated characteristic “Wish Dragon,” a teenage boy comes into possession of a magic teapot containing a world-weary dragon who’s obliged to grant him three needs.

The film is geared towards kids, however for anybody sufficiently old to recollect the Disney Renaissance, there must be a déjà vu warning: Netflix’s latest animation effort is actually Disney’s “Aladdin” transposed to Shanghai. John Cho, who voices Long, the dragon, does his greatest impression of Robin Williams, who lent his voice to the fast-talking Genie within the 1992 Disney animation. But with out the catchy songs and intergenerational attraction, this film can solely want to measure as much as that basic.

When the story begins, Din (Jimmy Wong) is a genial, imaginative baby who quickly befriends Li Na (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), a fellow troublemaker at school. The pair is proven cavorting in a best-friend montage that screeches to a halt when Li Na’s father strikes her out of their humble neighborhood, saying, “We’re off to a better life, and we have to leave this one behind.”

Fast-forward by a decade: A classy Li Na seems on billboards round city, whereas Din lives in the identical cramped house along with his mom (Constance Wu), and works as a meals supply boy, all of the whereas craving to win again his accomplice in crime. If solely a magical dragon may assist Din bluff his approach into Li Na’s moneyed circle.

Here, the film goes full people story. Some moments, corresponding to when Long’s voice turns squeaky-high as he squeezes again into his itty-bitty teapot area, appear to explicitly quote “Aladdin,” to not point out the airborne date Din and Li Na have on a flying dragon.

The greatest break from components arrives via Long, the want granter. Unlike the Genie, Long possesses a compelling human again story and follows an outlined character arc. Absent a razzle-dazzle manufacturing quantity akin to “Friend Like Me,” endowing the dragon with some emotional depth is the least this film, directed by Chris Appelhans, may do. “Wish Dragon” is a transporting expertise, but it surely’s removed from a whole new world.

Wish Dragon
Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 38 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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