The Magical World Of Disney #85: The Return Of Jafar

We’ve looked at all the Disney animated classics, we’ve looked at the Pixar animated features, now, let’s begin our long, long LONG look at the various miscellaneous Disney animated movies that are not part of the animated classics canon or Pixar canon and yes, that includes the direct-to-video sequels so let’s begin with the first Aladdin sequel, The Return Of Jafar:

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The Return of Jafar (also known as Aladdin 2: The Return of Jafar) is a 1994 American animated film that is a direct-to-video sequel to the 1992 animated film Aladdin, both produced by The Walt Disney Company. The film was released on May 20, 1994 and serves as the first episode of the Aladdin animated series. Culled from material originally intended for the first five episodes of the Aladdin TV series, The Return of Jafar was the first Disney direct-to-video animated feature release. Another Aladdin direct-to-video sequel, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, followed in 1996. The film was the first American animated direct-to-video project released.

In the film, Jafar escapes from confinement and returns to Agrabah to gain his revenge against Aladdin and his companions, Princess Jasmine, Genie, Abu, Carpet, the Sultan, and Iago (now turned against Jafar).

At the time, this was a very ambitious project seeing as how animation was still in the midst of its’ 90s golden age and VHS was still very popular, the same year this came out, Universal entered the direct-to-video race with the Land Before Time sequel, The Great Valley Adventure but Return Of Jafar came out first.

And why not, Aladdin, at the time was the highest grossing animated movie of all time, this was just mere weeks before The Lion King came out and changed that, and seeing as how Disney didn’t have an animated movie released in 1993 to whet our appetite, Nightmare Before Christmas doesn’t technically count because that was Touchstone who originally put it out before Disney took control of it in the mid 2000s, a lot of us kids growing up in the timeperiod could not wait for this one to come out.

The overall result is definitely a step down in terms of the quality from the original movie but it’s important to remember that this was heavily marketed as the sequel to Aladdin the movie, they didn’t sell this to us as the pilot for the Aladdin TV series which it ended up becoming. Then again, the movie is not a terrible movie and especially when you consider some of Disney’s other bad direct-to-video sequels to come, this isn’t too bad.

It’s just really unnecessary, the animation has definitely taken a massive stepdown in quality, you can definitely tell that this is a TV sequel and some of the animation is a little too bubbly and all over the place. Overall, there’s some inventive bits here and there but nothing too extravagant like in the original movie.

Most of the voice cast is back for the sequel, with the exception of Douglas Seale as the Sultan, now voiced by Val Bettin, and Robin Williams, who because of controversy over Williams being marketed in Aladdin, didn’t come back and Dan Castellenta, the voice of Homer Simpson, took over the role, which is fine but they need Robin Williams to be the Genie.

The overall plot is not a bad plot at all, Jafar getting his revenge on Aladdin for the events of the first movie, that’s a good plot for a sequel but the problem is that a lot of the focus and some of the music is centered way too much on Iago, as he’s trying to prove to Aladdin that he can do good things for the kingdom, that’s fine, but don’t make the central focus on the story be on him, stick to the actual title of the film.

The Return Of Jafar is certainly not a terrible movie but it just feels needless as a follow-up to Aladdin. If it was marketed as the first episode of the new Aladdin series that was coming, I think most people would’ve been perfectly fine with it but as it stands, it’s not a terrible movie but it certainly pales in comparison to the original Aladdin, a trend we’ll be seeing for many of these direct-to-video sequels.

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