You know, there was once a time in which we as a culture
hadn't become utterly desensitized to the site of Disney anally violating its
heritage with a gaffe stick. There was a time, long long ago, in which the
company retained a health sense of legacy about their timeless masterpieces. I
mean, when Walt was alive do you think there ever would have been a Bullwhip
Griffin 2: March of the Nostril Brigade?
I. Think. Not.
But enough of my mindless
recollections. Flash forward to 2005, and we have Disney whoring itself at
Wal-Mart display stands roughly every 37 minutes, hawking the latest in Disney
Home Video entertainment that promises a return of the emotional warmth of past
successes but in reality provides little but empty echoes of once-was glories.
Yes, we're talking about DTV (direct-to-video) sequels to Disney classics:
Cinderella 2, Mulan 2, 101 Dalmations 2, Lady and
the Tramp 2, Lion King 1 1/2, The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2,
The Stitch Movie, etc.. A virtual cornucopia of crap up and down the
board, with no end in sight, diluting the company's inimitable library of
animated treasures by associating them with watered-down garbage cranked out
without thought or heart.
But as I mentioned before, it
wasn't always that way. That's why in 1994, when Disney released their first
major DTV sequel, Aladdin: The Return of
Jafar, it was a celebratory event. The original movie had been
released two winters ago, to massive box office and critical acclaim, and had
become a huge hit on home video. The promise of a sequel had millions of
fans chomping at the bit for more exciting Disney entertainment and, perhaps
more specifically, more Robin Williams genie-inspired
Well, they got neither. The
sound of millions of jaws hitting the floor could be heard across America when
these fans popped Aladdin: The Return of Jafar into
their VCRs. Gone was the exquisite animation of the original film, replaced with
substandard product you might find on your typical dopey television cartoon
show. There were songs, but not a single one was even remotely memorable (the
ones that stick out most are weak retreads of tunes from the original film, like
Arabian Nights and A Whole New World). The story is weak and
forgettable: Aladdin is trying to get used to life in the palace, the parrot
Iago returns seeking sanctuary, and a thief named Abi Mal finds Jafar's lamp,
who is looking to scratch out a little revenge on Aladdin and his pals. It's not
a horrible story, but it certainly is far from anything remotely interesting or
And perhaps most significantly,
Robin Williams did not return to his role as the genie. Cheesed off by his
treatment by the Disney brass during the filming and marketing of the original
film, Williams told the Mouse House to go pound sand and was replaced by The
Simpsons-regular Dan Castellaneta, who gamely stepped into Williams's
shoes. He does an adequate job, but Robin Williams is certainly missed here.
But the problems aren't the
voices, the mediocre songs, the lack of story, the sub-standard animation, the
.... actually, those are the problems here. Aladdin: The Return of Jafar is a limp, lifeless affair
that's best left rotting alone and unloved somewhere in an abandoned lavatory.
Originally produced for home video in 1994,
Aladdin: The Return of Jafar
is presented in
a fullframe aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The quality of
the video is adequate but not very notable. Some debris is noticeable
throughout the transfer: little specks of white here and there
that nonetheless pop-up at a fairly regular rate. The image seems
fuzzy at times, while at others sharpness levels are fine. Colors vary between drab
and mute to oversaturated and blooming, with all points in between represented throughout
the transfer. The video looks like excellent VCR quality, which is to
say it is a thoroughly mediocre transfer.
The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1
soundtrack, with separate French and Spanish language soundtracks. The audio
just as non-impressive in the video, with a flat mix planted directly in the
center channel, with little separation and directionality noticeable. Dialog is
satisfactory and clear, with some opening up of the mix during musical numbers
and big zany action scenes. Otherwise, this is a weak mix.
out with the usual array of set-top games that are sure to impress nobody.
Wish At Your Own Risk, in which you can use your DVD remote to
wish for various and things and watch the Genie provide them for you.
DisneyPedia: Wishes Around The World is another interactive bit
in which you use your remote to select a "cool looking wishing coin", in which
the origin of wish-making customs from around the world is analyzed in various
short video pieces. Disney's Song Selection allows you to sing
along (with on-screen lyrics) to five of the movie's songs. Finally, there are
Sneak Peaks which includes trailers for other Disney product,
including Bambi: Special Edition, The Incredibles, and
Unless you are a Disney completist, a huge Aladdin fan,
or a sucker for punishment, I can't see any good reason to purchase
Aladdin: The Return of Jafar. The
quality of the presentation of thoroughly mediocre, the extra features are
sparse and uninteresting, the film itself is a major dud. You can feel
comfortable in giving this DVD the good old El Paso.