The film centers on Jafar, the villain from the original film who is now an all powerful genie trying to become the ruler of Agrabah and gain his revenge against Aladdin and his companions: Jasmine, Genie, Abu, Magic Carpet, the Sultan and Iago (now turned against Jafar).
It was the first Disney direct-to-video animated feature release, and was released on Special Edition DVD (with "Aladdin:" added to the title), with digitally restored picture and remastered sound. The Special Edition DVD, along with the other two films in the series, went back to the Disney Vault on January 31, 2008 in the U.S., and February 4, 2008 in the U.K. The trailer of the film was seen on the 1994 release of The Fox and the Hound. It was released on digital and a 2-movie Blu-ray combo pack alongside King of Thieves on January 5, 2016. The Blu-ray combo pack is exclusive to the Disney Movie Club while the digital versions of the Aladdin sequels were released for general retail.
This was the only Aladdin full-length production without the original voice of Genie, Robin Williams. He was replaced by Dan Castellaneta (best known for voicing Homer Simpson), who also voiced the Genie in the animated series as well as in Kingdom Hearts. Williams returned as the Genie in Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
This was also the first Aladdin full-length production without the original voice of Sultan, Douglas Seale. He was replaced by Val Bettin, who also voiced the Sultan in the series' animated series and Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
The story opens with a band of robbers arriving in their hideout with their latest spoils. Just as their incompetent leader, Abis Mal, rouses the ire of his men, Aladdin and Abu steal the treasures back and distribute most of it among the poor of Agrabah - with the exception of a jewel flower, which Aladdin intends to give to Jasmine. Upon their arrival, Jasmine announces to Aladdin a surprise which the Sultan intends to reveal at this evening's dinner.
Meanwhile, in the desert, Iago manages to dig himself and Jafar's genie lamp out of the sand into which the Genie had fired them. Jafar orders Iago to release him at once, but Iago, tired of being treated badly by Jafar, throws the lamp into a nearby well. He returns to Agrabah, hoping to convince Aladdin that he had served Jafar only because he had hypnotized him just like the Sultan (even though it's not the truth). He meets Aladdin and insists that he is innocent, but Aladdin is not fooled and tries to capture him. While chasing Iago, Aladdin has a run-in with Abis Mal and some of his men, but is saved by Iago. Now willing to give Iago a fair chance, Aladdin returns with him to the palace, where they are greeted by Genie, who has returned from seeing the world and is glad to be home in Agrabah. That night, the Sultan announces that he wants to make Aladdin his new grand vizier. Trying to draw on the good mood, Aladdin attempts to persuade the Sultan to forgive Iago, but Iago inadvertently ruins the dinner and the Sultan and Jasmine are furious. With Iago's help, though, Jasmine eventually reconciles with Aladdin.
Meanwhile, Jafar, by luck, is found by Abis Mal. As Jafar is a genie, he is handicapped by the incompetence of his new "master". Jafar desires to be free so that he can get revenge on Aladdin and rule Agrabah, but needs Mal's co-operation to do this. Though Abis Mal is technically his master, Jafar still asserts his power by tricking Abis Mal into wasting two of his wishes and placing him in dangerous situations before making him return to Agrabah; however, Abis Mal willingly goes along with Jafar in order to get his own revenge on Aladdin. Once in the palace, Jafar reveals himself to Iago and forces him to play along with his plans. The next day, Aladdin and the Sultan depart to have a discussion at a place suggested by Iago. After they leave, Jafar confronts the Genie and Abu in the Palace gardens and shows his power, imprisoning the pair.
Meanwhile, Aladdin has a talk with the Sultan that earns his acceptance as the future grand vizier. When Aladdin thanks Iago, he is ambushed by Abis Mal, accompanied by a group of cloaked horsemen. Aladdin, helpless without Carpet (who is trampled by one of the horses), fails to prevent the Sultan's capture. When Carpet recovers, Aladdin gives chase, only to be shocked when the horses gallop off the cliff and sprout wings. Despite his surprise, Aladdin takes back the Sultan. He is about to make his escape when one of Abis Mal's horsemen creates a waterspout, sucking the Sultan off the carpet and into the waterspout. Aladdin turns the carpet back to save the Sultan, but he and the carpet are sucked in. Aladdin, however, is thrown back out and into the raging river. While struggling to stay above the surface of the water, Aladdin manages to grab a rock. But before he can catch his breath, Abis Mal kicks him back into the river, and he plummets over the edge of the waterfall. Abis Mal enjoys his moment of glory, but one of the horsemen uses magic to keep Aladdin from meeting his death. Aladdin then gently floats over the deadly rocks and is dropped into safer water.
It is finally revealed that all the horsemen were Jafar in disguise. Abis Mal rushes towards Jafar, expressing anger that Aladdin was saved, ("He was this close to being a greasy little smear on the rocks!") Barely keeping his temper, Jafar reminds Abis Mal of the plan and congratulates Iago for his work. Iago, however, is clearly distressed at betraying Aladdin. Come nightfall, Aladdin recovers on a riverbank. He is then left to crawl back to Agrabah on foot, seething in fury with the belief that Iago had set him and the Sultan up.
When he returns, Jasmine accuses him of murdering the Sultan and sentences him to death. Aladdin is shocked, but the truth is that Jasmine was also captured while Aladdin was away with the Sultan and Iago, and Jafar disguised himself as her when he issued the death sentence.
In the dungeon, Jasmine and the others berate Iago for betraying them, but their anger is quickly forgotten when Iago chooses to attempt to free Genie so he can save Aladdin. Jafar reveals himself to Aladdin moments before his execution at Razoul's hands, and Aladdin frantically attempts to tell the guards, but they don't listen. Finally, after a great amount of effort, Iago frees Genie, who saves Aladdin just as the sword falls, and then the others. Aladdin angrily goes off on Iago for setting him up, but changes his mind when Jasmine informs him that Iago freed them on his own. While Iago suggests that they run, Aladdin decides to attempt to stop Jafar. Genie tells Aladdin that, in order to destroy Jafar, his lamp must be destroyed before Abis Mal wishes him free. Iago chooses not to face Jafar, and the others let him go without blame on account of their new freedom.
Jafar and Abis Mal celebrate Aladdin's "death", and Abis Mal wants his third wish. However, Jafar refuses unless the wish is used to set him free. He bribes Abis Mal by conjuring mass amounts of gold and treasure in exchange for using the third wish for setting him free, while Genie attempts and fails to steal Jafar's lamp without being seen by the two. But Abis Mal hesitates, suspicious of Jafar's motives. They soon spot Abu attempting to steal the lamp, leading to a struggle for it between Aladdin and Abis Mal. Jafar, surprised and enraged to see that Aladdin is still alive, blows them out of the throne room into the palace garden. Aladdin and Abu are saved by Genie, and Abis Mal is caught on a tree branch, unable to reach the lamp or properly move, and the lamp falls to the ground.
Aladdin, Jasmine, the Genie, Abu and Carpet engage Jafar (in his monstrous genie form) in combat, but even when bound by the rules of the Genie he easily outmatches them, using his tremendous powers to stop them from getting the lamp. His indiscriminate use of power opens a fissure in the ground which is filled with magma. Thoroughly trapped, Aladdin faces certain death when suddenly Iago reappears and grabs the lamp, having fully turned against his master. Jafar blasts him and leaves him for dead, but Iago manages to recover for a moment and uses his last ounce of strength to kick the lamp into the magma. As Aladdin rescues the injured Iago and the lamp is melted and liquefied, it causes Jafar to violently implode into a cloud of dust, destroying him forever.
To the joy of all, Iago recovers from his injuries, since it is among a Genie's set of laws that he can't use his powers to kill. Amidst the celebration with the Genie as a firework rocket, however, Aladdin announces to the Sultan that he is not yet ready to become a grand vizier, because first he wants to see the world, and can't just stay in the Palace for now. Jasmine declares that she would join him, but Iago objects to this and continues to rant as the film ends.
After the credits, Abis Mal, still stuck on a tree branch, suddenly realizes that, with Jafar and the lamp gone, he will never have his third wish.
- Gilbert Gottfried as Iago
- Scott Weinger as Aladdin
- Jonathan Freeman as Jafar
- Dan Castellaneta as Genie
- Linda Larkin as Jasmine
- Jason Alexander as Abis Mal
- Frank Welker as Abu and Rajah
- Val Bettin as The Sultan
- Jim Cummings as Razoul
- Arabian Nights
- I'm Looking Out for Me
- Nothing in the World (Quite Like a Friend)
- Forget About Love
- You're Only Second Rate
The film was originally planned to be released as a television special. However, the production time later decided to have it released on home video. Director Steve Feldstein stated about the decision to release the film 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." Robin Williams refused to reprise his role as Genie after Disney used his voice for merchandise and for the marketing campaign for Aladdin, he was replaced by Dan Castellaneta who is best known for voicing Homer Simpson in The Simpsons. Douglas Seale the original voice of the Sultan, also didn't reprise his role and was replaced by Val Bettin, who later reprised the role again in the television series and Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 33% based on 12 reviews, and an average rating of 3.91/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "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, the film received a "two thumbs up" from Siskel & Ebert. The song You're Only Second Rate is also well-liked, and is considered a proper villain song for Jafar.
Also, Iago has been called the real star of this movie by critics and audiences alike:
"The plot thickens when Aladdin becomes indebted to Jafar's former partner, Iago (a wisecracking parrot), for saving his life. Struggling with issues of honesty and loyalty, Iago becomes the film's focus as he grapples between standing by Aladdin or succumbing to Jafar's evil pressures."
Since then, he has become Aladdin's second most popular character, the first being Genie.
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 movie.
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.
It is notable that, as by the end of The Return of Aladdin Jafar and Iago's situation is restored to what it was at the beginning, this story and the movie are not incompatible. The Return of Aladdin can indeed be easily thought to have taken place between Aladdin and The Return of Jafar.
The plot of this film is loosely used in Agrabah, one of the worlds in Kingdom Hearts II, only with Abis Mal being replaced by the Peddler from the first film. As in the film, Iago escapes from Jafar and does his best to make amends with Aladdin and Jasmine, as well as with 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 destroyed by Sora and company. The Peddler's fate is left ambiguous. This is so far the only Disney sequel to have its plot adapted into a level in the Kingdom Hearts series.
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. This battle is once again visited in Kingdom Hearts coded and Kingdom Hearts RE:coded.
- The Return of Jafar was Disney's first direct-to-video sequel. According to the writers of the film, this was because the ending for Aladdin made it ambiguous as to whether Aladdin and Jasmine actually married, as well as the timeframe between Genie's freedom and the actual wedding.
- The story of The Return of Jafar is heavily centered around Iago, moreso than any of the other characters.
- Some clips from this film were used in the opening intro of the Aladdin television series.
- The first half of the movie was animated by Walt Disney Animation Australia and the second half was animated by Walt Disney Animation Japan. Australia has a more expressive and alive style while Japan has nicer drawings. The animation switches when Abis Mal is climbing on the palace wall resulting in Aladdin suddenly wearing his street rat clothes instead of his prince clothes. Similarly Australia animated the first part of the Darkwing Duck pilot while Japan animated the second part.
- One of the considered titles for "The Return of Jafar" (which was changed quite late into its development) was "Iago Returns", but it was decided that "The Return of Jafar" was a more catchy title.
- When Aladdin presents Jasmine with the jewelled flower, she places it in a vase with another, real flower. In the following sequence while Abu tries to steal the jewelled flower, both real and jewelled flowers appear and disappear inaccurately from the vase.
- When Iago says, "Tricky is good. Tricky I can do", his mouth keeps moving (as if speaking) for over a second after he stops speaking, suggesting that another, longer line was originally intended to be spoken at that point.
- Abu is originally captured by Jafar in metal claws, but later, these are changed to regular wall-cuffs.
- When Aladdin was throwing all of Abis Mal's ill-gotten treasure down the streets, one of the characters, a beggar that essentially got a golden scepter in a bowl, heavily resembles Jafar's beggar form.
- Iago in the movie gets more role than the first movie, ie. He gets two songs, three instances of proving himself and saving Aladdin and showing immense bravery.
- Genie is wearing his wrist chains during much of the movie although they fell off in the first movie when Aladdin wished him free. It could be that Genie either wears them due to personal preferences or simply out of habit, having done so for thousands of years.
- Probably not known to most people, Disney had actually made subtle alterations to Jafar's death scene when the movie was released onto DVD. In the original VHS release, his skeleton is seen rapidly flashing from his body. In the DVD release, it is the same animation only half of the flashes had been removed. Possible reasons behind this edit could be due to the differences in frame-rate of VHS and DVD formats, or the rapid flashes in the scene which could cause epilepsy in some viewers, which is edited out of respect following the infamous Electric Soldier Porygon incident from 1997.
- Aladdin is the second Disney animated film to become a series after Saludos Amigos and Lilo and Stitch.
- This is the only Disney direct-to-video film to have the 1985 Blue Castle Walt Disney Television logo at the end of the film, due to it being originally planned to be released as a television special. It is also the only direct-to-video film copyrighted to The Walt Disney Company instead of Disney Enterprises, Inc., since the Disney studio started changing its name from The Walt Disney Company to Disney Enterprises, Inc. in the copyright notices as of 1996.
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