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The Return of Jafar (G)
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Caution: spoilers.

This is the first of two direct-to-video sequels to the theatrical movie Aladdin. It was released on VHS in 1994, and I'm sure I must have seen it sometime in the mid 90s, though I don't remember exactly when. Anyway, I'm writing this review after watching it on DVD in 2016. (So... I would guess it's been roughly two decades since I last saw it.) The movie was followed by the TV series Aladdin (though again, I'm not sure whether or not I saw this movie before or after I saw the show). Most of the voice cast was the same as in the original movie, with a couple of exceptions. Most notably, Genie is now voiced by Dan Castellaneta, who would also play him in the TV series. (Occasionally in this movie, I honestly couldn't hear a difference from when Robin Williams voiced him, and the rest of the time... the difference wasn't distracting, or anything.)

It begins with a group of bandits riding to a cave where they find a bunch of treasure. They're led by Abis Mal (Jason Alexander), though they really don't like him. (It's funny, I remember the character being in the TV series, but in spite of his being a fairly important character in this movie, I didn't remember he was in it at all.) But Aladdin and Abu and Carpet manage to steal the treasure out from under them, and fly back to the palace in Agrabah.

Meanwhile, out in the desert, Iago digs his way up through the sand. In the first movie, Aladdin had tricked Jafar into wishing to be a genie, which meant he was confined to a lamp that got buried underground, and he took Iago with him. But now Iago manages to get free of the lamp, and Jafar wants him to free him from the lamp, as well. But Iago decides he's tired of the way Jafar treats him, so he drops the lamp down a well. (It's kind of weird, because in the first movie I really thought Jafar actually liked and cared about Iago, but here he's a more typical villain who apparently sees underlings as tools.) Anyway, later on, Abis Mal and the bandits find Aladdin in the market and try to kill him, and Iago gets mixed up in the fray, inadvertently saving Aladdin's life. He decides to use this to his advantage, by getting Aladdin to take him to the palace. Aladdin intends to put in a good word for Iago with the Sultan and Jasmine, but first he hides Iago from them. Also, Genie has been out traveling around the world, and he returns just in time to join Aladdin and Jasmine at a dinner where the Sultan plans to tell Aladdin something. And that is that he wants to make Aladdin his new grand vizier. The dinner gets interrupted by Iago, and Aladdin barely manages to convince the Sultan to let Iago live, though Jasmine is upset that Aladdin had been keeping this secret from her. But Genie and Iago team up to get Aladdin and Jasmine back together.

Meanwhile, Abis Mal happens to be fetching some water at the very well where Iago had thrown the lamp earlier, and when he finds the lamp, he becomes Jafar's new master. At least, in theory. Jafar basically scares the hell out of Abis Mal (in fact, his genie form is rather devilish, though he spends most of the movie making himself look like he did when he was human). He manages to burn through Abis Mal's first two wishes pretty quickly, and with no real result. But he won't grant the third wish until Abis Mal helps him get revenge against Aladdin, which the bandit is happy to do, because he also wants revenge. Later, Jafar appears to Iago and scares him into helping. However, by this time Iago had begun to care about Aladdin and Jasmine, so he wasn't happy about helping Jafar. Still, he has little choice. But... eventually Iago does go back to helping the good guys (thus setting himself up as a major character in the impending TV series, but of course that's beside the point. I'm just sayin'.)

Anyway... of course the good guys win in the end, but I don't really want to say any more about the plot. (I've said too much already.) So I'll just say... I don't remember how much I liked the movie back in the 90s, but this time around, it... was okay. It wasn't great, but it wasn't really bad. The animation was somewhat inferior to the original movie, and the songs were way inferior (but not terrible). The story itself wasn't nearly as good as the original, but it was okay. Parts of it were sorta "meh," and parts of it were actually pretty good, so it all averaged out, I guess. Oh, and there's a nice little post-credits scene.

Followed by Aladdin and the King of Thieves

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