The Return of Jafar
|The Return of Jafar|
VHS release cover
|Music by||Mark Watters|
|Edited by||Robert S. Birchard|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Home Video|
|May 20, 1994|
The Return of Jafar (also known as Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar) is a 1994 American direct-to-video animated musical fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. It is the first sequel to the 1992 film Aladdin, and serves as the pilot to the Aladdin animated series. Released on May 20, 1994, it was the first Disney direct-to-video animated film, and marked the first American direct-to-video animated film.
Another direct-to-video sequel, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, was released in 1996.
One year has passed since the events of the first film. Aladdin and Abu have settled in the palace with Princess Jasmine and her father, the Sultan. Still yearning for adventures, Aladdin foils the robbery of a criminal group led by Abis Mal, stealing their loot and returning it to the people of Agrabah. Meanwhile, in the desert, Iago escapes from Jafar's lamp and, tired of being taken for granted by Jafar, refuses to heed Jafar's demands to free him. After throwing the lamp into a well, Iago returns to Agrabah, hoping to get close to Aladdin and return to the palace. During a confrontation with Aladdin and Abu, the three are attacked by Abis Mal and his men, and Iago inadvertently saves Aladdin's life. In gratitude, Aladdin keeps Iago on the palace grounds, promising to speak with the Sultan on his behalf.
Abis Mal accidentally finds and takes possession of Jafar after finding his lamp in the well. Hindered by his incompetent master, Jafar manipulates Abis Mal into wasting his first two wishes and enlists his help in taking revenge on Aladdin, in exchange for granting him a special third wish. Abis Mal agrees, still desiring revenge on Aladdin. At the palace, the Genie returns after seeing the world, having missed his friends greatly. At the evening banquet, the Sultan announces his intention to make Aladdin his new grand vizier. Iago is revealed, however, when Abu and Rajah chase him into the banquet. Aladdin desperately speaks up for Iago and tries to convince the Sultan to pardon him, but Jasmine is left heartbroken that Aladdin didn't confide in her. Genie and Iago help them reconcile, and Jasmine agrees to give Iago a chance. The Sultan, however, grows suspicious of Aladdin for defending Iago, but agrees to issue a temporary pardon for Iago, with the stipulation that Aladdin is to keep an eye on him.
As Iago begins to grow fond of Aladdin, Jafar sneaks into the palace with Abis Mal's help and confronts him, forcing him to help him take revenge on Aladdin. Iago reluctantly agrees and arranges a trip for Aladdin and the Sultan to a waterfall. Jafar captures Genie and Abu and then goes for the Sultan, locking them all in the dungeon and framing Aladdin for the Sultan's alleged murder by posing as Jasmine, sentencing him to execution. Iago has a change of heart and frees the Genie, enabling him to save Aladdin in time. Though Agrabah is now under Jafar's control, and realizing that Jafar is too dangerous to be left alive, Aladdin vows to stop him by destroying his lamp, which is the only way to kill Jafar, while Iago decides to leave.
Aladdin and the group confront Jafar in the treasure room just before Abis Mal can wish him free. Jafar transforms into his Genie form, incapacitates the Genie, shatters Carpet, splits open the Palace gardens and creates a pool of lava where he traps Aladdin on a sinking rock. Iago returns and grabs the lamp, and though he is severely injured by Jafar, he stays conscious long enough to kick the lamp into the lava where it melts, destroying Jafar once and for all. Aladdin rescues Iago and they all get to safety as Jafar's magic is undone, restoring the Palace gardens and Carpet. With Jafar gone, Iago is accepted into the palace, but Aladdin ultimately declines the Sultan's offer to become the vizier, instead opting to see the world with Jasmine, much to Iago's chagrin.
A post-credits scene reveals that Abis Mal survived, stuck in a tree, realizing that his third wish will never be granted.
- Scott Weinger as Aladdin
- Brad Kane as Aladdin (singing voice)
- Jonathan Freeman as Jafar
- Gilbert Gottfried as Iago
- Dan Castellaneta as Genie
- Linda Larkin as Princess Jasmine
- Liz Callaway as Princess Jasmine (singing voice)
- Jason Alexander as Abis Mal
- Frank Welker as Abu and Rajah
- Val Bettin as the Sultan
- Jim Cummings as Razoul
After the success of The Little Mermaid (1989), Walt Disney Television Animation subsequently produced an animated television series of the same name that aired on CBS. At the same time, the Disney Afternoon had become a success with television series such as DuckTales and Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers airing in a syndicated two-hour time slot. Before the theatrical release of Aladdin, Disney commissioned Tad Stones and Alan Zaslove to produce an animated series of Aladdin that would shepherd its transition from the movie into a television series.
While conceiving the sequel, Stones became fascinated with the character Iago, commenting that "I said 'I want the parrot in there,' but he was trapped in the lamp [at the end of the Aladdin movie], so we came up with a story of how he got out and ended up with Aladdin." As common with half-hour animated television series at the time, Disney initially planned to begin the series with an hour-long television special, but Stones suggested that the film should instead be released on home video. The idea was initially met with some resistance from then-Disney Feature Animation president Peter Schneider and then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner who felt it would cheapen Disney's brand. Ultimately, layout designer Paul Felix conceived the film's opening with the gang of thieves entering into a cave, which was then later animated at Disney Animation Australia. Impressed with the animation dailies, then-Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg allowed for the first half to be animated in Australia while the climax was animated in Japan.
Due to a well publicized bitter fall-out over the use of his voice in the marketing campaign for Aladdin, Robin Williams refused to reprise the role of the Genie, and was instead replaced by Dan Castellaneta (best known for voicing Homer Simpson). Stones also claimed that Williams participated in selecting Castellaneta to voice the Genie. It was also the first Aladdin full-length production without the original voice of Sultan, Douglas Seale. He was replaced by Val Bettin, who reprised his role in the franchise's animated series and Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
Instead of the film receiving a theatrical release, Steve Feldstein, director of public relations for Disney's home video division, stated the decision to release The Return of Jafar on home video was due to time constraints claiming that "to put the film in the theatrical pipeline would have taken up to five years", but releasing it on home video would take "less than two years." In addition to that, Feldstein confirmed that financing was also a consideration since producing a direct-to-video feature would be "less costly to make than Aladdin." Likewise, due to an expanding video market, Disney claimed demand from theatrical and video audiences for Aladdin and other characters was another reason for a speedy follow-up.
The Return of Jafar was first released on VHS in the United States on May 20, 1994, being the first installment of Walt Disney Home Video collection series. In its first two days, it sold more than 1.5 million VHS copies; more than 4.6 million VHS copies were sold in less than a week. In the United States, more than ten million copies were sold, ranking among the top 15 top-selling videos of all time (at the time), earning $150 million in profits. The film eventually sold 15 million units and grossed approximately $300 million worldwide. The sequel's success removed what Los Angeles Times described as "the low-quality stigma" from direct-to-video, and caused Disney, Universal Pictures, and other studios to release more direct-to-video films.
The trailer for the film was seen on the 1994 VHS videocassette release of The Fox and the Hound. Originally released on VHS that year, The Return of Jafar was later reissued on Special Edition DVD and VHS (with "Aladdin:" added to the title) on January 18, 2005, the same day as its direct sequel, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, also received a re-release, with digitally restored picture and remastered sound. The Special Edition DVD, along with the other two films in the series, were placed on moratorium ("placed back into the Disney Vault") on January 31, 2008 in the United States, and February 4, 2008 in the United Kingdom. The Return of Jafar, along with Aladdin and the King of Thieves was released on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD Combo Pack on January 5, 2016 as a Disney Movie Club exclusive in North America.
David Nusair of reelfilm.com summed up most of the negative feelings that contributed to this rating:
Notable as the first direct-to-video Disney sequel, The Return of Jafar follows Aladdin (Scott Weinger) as he attempts to once again foil Jafar's (Jonathan Freeman) villainous plot to take over Agrabah. And despite the fact that he was freed from his lamp at the end of the first film, the genie (now voiced by Dan Castellaneta) is back and wackier than ever. It's clear right from the outset that Disney put very little effort into the production of The Return of Jafar, particularly in the realm of animation. The film has all the style and fluidity of a Saturday morning cartoon, while various songs are bland and forgettable. The repetitive storyline doesn't do the movie any favors, and even at a running time of 69-minutes, doldrums set in almost immediately. Castellaneta does the best he can with the material, but generally comes up short (particularly when compared with Robin Williams's manic performance from the original). The Return of Jafar is a thoroughly needless sequel that may keep small children engaged, but is bound to come off as nothing less than a huge disappointment for fans of the original.
Despite the mostly negative reception, on the television program Siskel & Ebert, the film received a "two thumbs up" from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Steve Daly graded the sequel a C- criticizing it as a "knockoff" that "carries the Disney label and costs about as much as a tape of Aladdin, but it's clear from the first jerky frame that the same time, care, and creativity didn't go into it."
When Disney was publishing their own comics in the mid-90s, they produced a two issue Aladdin comic presenting an alternate version of The Return of Jafar. It was titled The Return of Aladdin. The comic is introduced by the Merchant from the first film.
The story starts off showing that Aladdin has been particularly bored of palace life. Meanwhile, Jafar has escaped the Cave of Wonders. Iago is given the task of finding the right master for Jafar to manipulate. Their search seems hopeless as some people are able to enjoy all three wishes or messing up. They find someone to use the lamp, who is known as Isabella, a master magician. Isabella is similar in appearance to Jafar (except his clothing is green). His first wish is to return to Agrabah Palace (as he performed entertainment to the sultan in #1). His second wish is for an army of soldiers to pursue Aladdin and Jasmine when they catch on to Jafar's presence. He is persuaded to use his third wish to trap Jafar and Iago in the lamp again, sending them back to the cave. Due to persuasion by the Genie, the Sultan hires Isabella to a permanent entertainment job at the palace. The end of the story shows the merchant having a black lamp similar to Jafar's, but he claims it to be worthless.
The plot of the film is loosely used in Agrabah, one of the worlds in Kingdom Hearts II, and the Peddler appears from the first film. As in the film, Iago escapes from Jafar and does his best to respect Aladdin, Jasmine, Sora, Donald and Goofy, although Jafar coerces him into aiding him in his revenge, almost damaging Iago's friendship with Aladdin and Sora, but he redeems himself after taking a blow for Aladdin which almost claims his life. The Peddler, at the beginning, comes across Jafar's lamp, but sells it to Aladdin, Sora, Donald and Goofy for a rare artifact in the Cave of Wonders. Despite Aladdin sealing the lamp in the palace dungeon, the greedy Peddler breaks into the dungeon and frees Jafar, unleashing his fury on Agrabah until he is defeated by Sora and company. The Peddler's fate is left ambiguous. This was the first Disney sequel to have its plot adapted into a level in the Kingdom Hearts series, which was then followed by the Grid being an adaptation of Tron Legacy, and the Caribbean being one of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
Furthermore, there is a mild allusion to the Agrabah boss battle in Kingdom Hearts. Sora must fight Jafar in Genie form, surrounded by a lava pit with raising and lowering levels, while Iago flies above with Jafar's lamp. Only striking the lamp has any effect on Jafar's health. This fight also takes place in the second game, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, and its PlayStation 2 remake. In both versions of Chain of Memories, the boss fight is due to the majority of the game being illusions created from Sora's memories. A second playable character, Riku, also fights the boss in his mode. The battle is once again visited in Kingdom Hearts Coded and Kingdom Hearts Re:coded.
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