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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Toby Shelton, Tad Stones, Alan Zaslove
Cast:
Jonathan Freeman, Gilbert Gottfried, Jason Alexander, Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin, Jim Cummings, Frank Welker, Dan Castellaneta
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
Aladdin's thrilling adventure continues with Aladdin: The Return of Jafar and The King of Thieves - together for the first time on DVD in the Aladdin II & III Collection. This exciting two-movie set features two times the magic, two times the fun, and all your favorite characters.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 69 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 1/18/2005

Available Only in a Two-Pack with Aladdin and the King of Thieves.

Bonus:
• “Wish at Your Own Risk” Game
• DisneyPedia: Wishes Around the World
• Disney’s Song Selection


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Aladdin II: The Return Of Jafar (1994)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 26, 2005)

Nowadays Disney fans expect to see “direct-to-video” sequels to their big theatrical hits. However, that was a new concept back in 1994, when the studio released Aladdin: The Return of Jafar. This flick continued the Aladdin saga, though not with all its components intact. Robin Williams refused to reprise his role as the Genie, apparently because he was bothered that Disney ignored a promise and they used his name in advertising.

The Genie does show up in Jafar, here voiced by Dan Castellaneta, better known as the man behind Homer Simpson. However, we don’t meet him for a while. The movie starts with a glimpse of Aladdan (Scott Weinger) as he foils some jewel thieves. We then jump to the desert, where the Genie’s old lamp pops up with evil wizard Jafar (Jonathan Freeman) still inside of it. His parrot assistant Iago (Gilbert Gottfried) plans to extricate his old boss, but Jafar insults the bird one too many times. Iago flies the coop and heads to their old stomping grounds of Agrabah.

In the meantime, Aladdin does the Robin Hood gig and redistributes the jewels to the local poor. He then heads back to the palace to hang out with his lady love, Princess Jasmine (Linda Larkin). She invites him to dinner and promises that her dad the Sultan (Val Bettin) will make an important announcement then.

Iago spies Aladdin and decides to weasel his way back into high society. He gets on Aladdin’s good side when he inadvertently saves our hero’s life. Aladdin remains wary, and leaves his monkey pal Abu (Frank Welker) to guard the bird while he goes to dinner. The Genie also returns and re-enters their lives.

Local thief Abis Mal (Jason Alexander) finds the lamp and accidentally frees Genie Jafar. He demands revenge on Aladdin, and Abis Mal - who was the thief foiled by the boy at the flick’s start - is happy to go along with those plans. The movie follows issues connected to Iago’s potential rehabilitation as well as Jafar’s attempts at revenge.

Given its status as Disney’s first direct-to-video sequel, one might expect that it’d work overtime to alleviate fans’ fears. After all, folks might easily anticipate a cheap, sloppy piece of product meant solely to make bucks based on the original movie’s popularity. Since Return took Disney into uncharted sequel territory, it made sense that they’d strive to create something impressive.

Yup - that’d make a lot of sense. Too bad it’s not remotely close to the truth. Instead of an entertaining and powerful sequel, Jafar acts as little more than a warmed-over rehash of the original. It took eight people to write this bland story?

In truth, the plot adds up to little. The tale acts as nothing more than an excuse for some tunes and a little humor. Does it develop the characters in any way? Not really; although Iago does a 180, everyone else largely remains the same, and they demonstrate precious little spark along the way.

Granted, Aladdin and Jasmine were never all that exciting anyway, but at least the supporting roles managed some kick. Here everyone seems flat and tedious. Castellaneta does his best to imitate Williams but fails to replicate his predecessor’s magic. Castellaneta is a very talented voice artist; this role just doesn’t put him in the best light since it emphasizes a need to duplicate someone else’s talents instead of be creative.

The addition of Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander brings nothing to the table. I’m sure the pack of writers felt proud of the name “Abis Mal”. I think it’s a pretty lousy pun and indicative of the lack of inspiration at the heart of the flick. If any humor emerges, I missed it.

I don’t expect Disney’s direct-to-video projects to offer feature-caliber animation, but they surely can do better than the Saturday morning-level work seen here. Stiff, clunky art abounds. The movie marginally replicates the look of the original flick but it fails to deliver any polish or panache. Instead, we find ugly work that distances the viewer.

Add to that a roster of totally forgettable and pedestrian songs and The Return of Jafar ends up as a complete dud. A lot of Disney fans reject all of the direct-to-video sequels reflexively and don’t give the individual projects a chance. I prefer to view each one on its own merits, but I will agree that most of them aren’t very good. Jafar may have been first, but it’s nowhere near the best. Instead, it’s closer to the bottom of the list as it presents a weak piece of work.

End credits footnote: stick through the conclusion to find a little tag.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D

Aladdin: The Return of Jafar appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Never bad but never very good, Jafar was a generally average presentation.

Sharpness seemed erratic. Much of the movie looked reasonably accurate and well defined, but some soft images appeared as well. Most of these popped up in wider shots and likely resulted from the cheapness of the animation. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement.

Given the age of this material, I expected virtually no source flaws. Unfortunately, Jafar suffered from a few of them. At times the material exhibited a generally dusty look, and I also noticed a moderate amount of grain. In addition, the program periodically showed some specks and marks. Some of this seemed to stem from poor clean-up animation..

Colors generally came across as decent but unexceptional. At times the hues seemed somewhat flat and runny, but they usually manifested acceptable tones. Little about them appeared particularly rich or lively, but they only occasionally dropped to subpar levels. Black levels were reasonably deep and dark, and shadow detail seemed adequately dense and opaque, but neither stood out as especially strong. Jafar consistently remained watchable, but the mix of issues appeared surprisingly problematic given Disney’s record of excellent DVD transfers.

Like the visuals, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Aladdin: The Return of Jafar lacked much personality. The mix maintained a heavy emphasis on the forward channels. Music showed nice stereo spread, and occasionally I heard cleanly localized effects in that domain. Those elements meshed together well and moved smoothly from channel to channel. As for the surrounds, they contributed little more than general ambience. The rear speakers reinforced the music and effects, and the parts with big action elements opened up the surrounds slightly, but not enough to make much of an impression.

Audio quality appeared acceptable. Speech was fine, as the lines sounded reasonably natural and lacked any issues like edginess. The score demonstrated some decent low-end response on occasion and usually sounded fairly good, but those elements occasionally appeared slightly too bright and without much life. Effects came across as clean and accurate, though they didn’t add a lot of zest to the proceedings. Overall, the audio of Jafar lacked anything much to make it stand out from the crowd, but it seemed mostly acceptable for this sort of effort.

When we head to the minor smattering of supplements, we open with a game called Wish At Your Own Risk. This gives you a few options to choose various wishes, and Genie Jafar then provides his twisted take on them. There’s some replayability here, since you can go through and see the different options, but none of them offer much fun.

A format also used on a few other DVDs from the studio, the DisneyPedia entry that tells us about “Wishes Around the World”. We go to nine different realms and learn about beliefs related to wishes. Character voices for Iago and Jafar add a little spark to this mildly informative piece.

Disney’s Song Selection basically acts as an alternate form of chapter menu. It lets you jump to any of the film’s five song performances, and it also allows you to show on-screen lyrics.

Jafar opens with a collection of ads. These include promos for Bambi, The Incredibles, Mulan II, and the “Disney Princess” line. All of these also appear in the Sneak Peeks domain along with an ad for Growing Up With Winnie the Pooh.

Disney launched their line of direct-to-video sequels with Aladdin: The Return of Jafar. Some wish they’d ended that line with Jafar. The flick sold scads of copies based on its predecessor’s popularity. It certainly didn’t move due to entertainment value, as Jafar presents a crude, cheap and joyless experience. The DVD offers mediocre picture and sound plus only minor extras. Avoid Jafar unless you want to mar your affectionate memories for the original Aladdin.

Note that The Return of Jafar currently can’t be purchased on its own. Instead, it comes solely as part of a two-pack with Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the third installment in the Aladdin series.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8823 Stars Number of Votes: 17
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