Action Movie Fanatix Review: Aladdin & The Death Lamp

Make A Wish

Starring: Darren Shahlavi, Kandyse McClure, Noam Jenkins, Eugene Clark

Director: Mario Azzopardi

2012  |  86 Minutes  |  Not Rated

“In other words, be careful what you wish for.”  Shifa

“Very careful.” – Kaleel

Aladdin seems like odd source material for a SyFy movie.  He isn’t fighting a raptor/stingray crossbreed or a giant rhinoceros.  (You can’t steal those ideas SyFy!  I’m copyrighting them.)  It is a pretty straight forward Aladdin tale with a slight twist.

Aladdin (Darren Shahlavi) discovers a book which leads him to a lamp sunken in a near dried up river.  When Aladdin tries cleaning the lamp he releases a djinn (a sun demon according to this movie) that had been imprisoned inside the lamp.  Aladdin, Luca, Shifa and Kaleel now seek to find the ring which will control the Jinn and allow them to imprison him once again.

Nothing revolutionary storywise.  It’s a fun concept with the mischievous djinn running amok, only granting wishes to those that he knows will wish for things that will ultimately result in their demise.  There are some obvious plot holes which is probably to be expected with these SyFy releases but there was one that seemed too obvious to ignore.  This demon can supposedly be out in the sun but since it isn’t going back to it’s bottle… Where is it going?

The real fun here is the different deaths doled out by the djinn.  When one guy lays down for a nap he exclaims “I wish I could lie here forever.”  So, the djinn grants his wish and a bunch of vines rise up out of the ground, strapping him down and then squeezing the life out of him.  There are a few other good ones and a couple bad ones.  I’d hate to ruin all the fun for you though.

Along with those deaths comes the usual below average SyFy special effects.  There is a 2-headed snake at the beginning that is the worst of the worst SyFy CGI effects.  Never believable that it is actually in the scene with the actors.  Another horrible effect is the gooey gold that pours onto a man who wished to be showered in gold (gotta watch your words).  It looks more like gold colored Ninja Turtles ooze than liquid gold.

The djinn on the other hand actually looks pretty good.  It is never to the point that you can forget it is CGI but it isn’t as bad as the 2 headed snake.  There are some nice smoke effects where the djinn’s legs would be.  This is not Disney’s big blue genie.  He is a snarling sonuvagun.  He’s a djinnie in a bottle, you gotta rub him the right way… sorry.

There are also some nice sets in Aladdin & The Death Lamp.  They are pretty believable as locations in the middle east without spending the money to film in a larger middle eastern city.  There are quite a few shots that are zoomed in more than what might have been shown in a higher budget release to hide whatever is outside the shot.  An acceptable low budget solution.

Music’s pretty darn good as well.

The acting is what actually surprised me the most.  Even with having to act against a CG djinn and working with some rather ridiculous dialogue the actors were doing their best to make us believe this was all very feasible.  Playing it completely straight is always the best way to handle it in situations like this.  Ham it up and this movie would have been completely unwatchable.

The absolute biggest problem with Aladdin & The Death Lamp is the lack of action.  There are only a couple short, poorly choreographed sword fights and that is it.  Of course there are the djinn kills as well but it would have been nice to see a little more in the way of fight scenes.  This is a huge misstep for the director considering he has Darren Shahlavi cast as Aladdin.  He probably could have pulled off some pretty cool stuff.

Aladdin & The Death Lamp is a SyFy release so there is a certain low budget quality to the whole thing.  With that said it was a fun little feature.  I actually would like to see SyFy make a series of movies out of it.  It could be a lot of fun to see Shahlavi’s Aladdin taking on a more badass Jafar type character or something.  Just make sure to include some awesome fights this time.  Give us a sort of Aladdin meets Prince of Persia (the game not the movie) thing with Darren Shahlavi in some awesome fights and I’d watch it every time.

Note: I am not 100% on the spellings for some character names here.  SyFy never posted a full cast/character listing and when the credits rolled during my viewing they minimized the screen to show a preview for Pegasus vs. Chimera.