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.