Until I can safely venture back into the realm of Mythology Monday’s (I’m out of myths that don’t pertain to the book AFTER my next book is released), I’m changing up my blog a little bit. Wednesdays I’ll be writing about writing, Fridays will still be about real world issues, they just won’t be linked to myths, and Mondays…I’m still playing around with. But for right now, how about Movie Mondays, where I overanalyze one of my daughter’s movies.
See here’s the thing. As a parent, I find myself watching the same movies over and over and over again. And as a writer, that gives me a lot of time to stare into the gaping plot holes and grumble. Since these grumblings amuse me, I figured why not use it for a blog post in case it amuses you too? So as I watch a movie for the umpteenth time, I’ll summarize and record my thoughts in these blog entries. Let me know what you think.
And to show you how little control I have over these movies, rather than this blog feature starting with the Little Mermaid, Tangled, or Aladdin, we’re starting with The Return of Jafar. Because THAT’S what my daughter wants to watch for some reason. *grumble grumble*
Return of Jafar starts exactly like Aladdin. SO much like Aladdin, I thought I was starting the wrong movie, until I noticed just how jerky the animation is. It took me a few seconds to convince Bella I hadn’t just made a mistake and restarted Aladdin, but she caught on when a group of thieves started counting their loot. A small furry hand darts in and takes a piece of treasure while Abis Mal shows off his poor leadership skills. Aladdin shows up to steal the loot and for a moment, I got really confused. Why is he stealing when he’s essentially a prince? Is this just setting up how he and Abis Mal know each other and in a few seconds we’ll flash for–nope, because there’s Carpet. What’s going on? It’s been a while since I saw this movie, but I didn’t expect to be so confused.
Meanwhile, Jafar and Iago are bickering and Iago, after singing a song that sparked a ton of random memories (seriously, I remembered every word, how weird is that), decides to go take over Agrabah by becoming friends with Aladdin.
Back to Aladdin, he’s playing Robin Hood and throwing stolen gold to starving children on the streets. Very impractical solution that’s no doubt wreaking havoc with Agrahbah’s economy, putting those street children in danger by giving them something bigger, stronger, meaner people can take, and/or getting them in trouble with the over zealous guards. Kind of surprised that there hasn’t been a lot of reform since Jafar was deposed. Jasmine clearly didn’t know how bad things were on the streets in the first movie, and how much the Sultan was told was questionable given his advisor, but what’s the excuse for the rampant starvation and homelessness now? And why is Aladdin the only one doing anything about it?
Aladdin and Iago meet up just as Aladdin bumps into the group of thieves. They bicker but eventually Aladdin and Iago team up after Iago convinces Aladdin Jafar hypnotized him into being bad and saved Aladdin from the thieves. Aladdin realizes he owes Iago his life, but says he still has to turn him over to the Sultan. First he’ll soften the royals up though so they won’t kill Iago on site.
Jasmine pops up, and my god, her voice is so…I don’t know why it annoys me so much, but I really don’t like it. Also, her character has done a total 180. She used to be such a spitfire and now she’s all “Oh darling, you rescued a princess.” I guess love “softened” her, but she didn’t need to be softened. Also, she had a pretty big hand in saving the day in the first movie and that’s swept totally under the rug here.
Genie comes back for a visit because he missed his friends and sings a song I had literally no memory of. He also manages to establish that as a free genie he’s not as strong as he used to be. Nicely done on avoiding the God Complex, Disney. Though honestly, Genie never seemed to be truly powerful. After all, he technically never granted Aladdin his original wish, to BE a prince. Not to pretend to be a prince, not to impersonate a prince, but to be one. Genie’s always been real good with illusion, not so much in actual delivery. The main characters depart for dinner and the scene switches to Abis Mal discovering Jafar’s lamp.
The sequence where Jafar takes Mal through his wishes is the reason I spent more hours than I can count as a child perfecting the phrasing of my three wishes should I ever find a genie. Honestly, that scene had a much more profound impact on my life than it should have. It’s probably influenced why my characters can’t lie and all my practice getting them to say things so specifically. Language games are fun 🙂
The Sultan makes Aladdin his royal advisor but then all hell breaks loose when the royals discover that Aladdin was harboring Iago. Jasmine and Aladdin argue about Aladdin hiding things from her again, and then Iago helps them patch things up with the “Forget about Romance” song. Another song I knew every word of. I loved this song. I honestly think they wrote this movie because they didn’t include Iago in enough songs in the first movie.
Speaking of Iago, it’s really amazing how much more common sense he has than genie. He gets hints that Al and Jas want to be alone. He picks up on nuances. It’s really refreshing having a side kick that isn’t clueless so the protagonist can look good and he really rounds out the team for the TV series. This movie did a really good job setting the tone for the TV series over all.
Anyway, Jasmine is appeased, but her father’s still pissed, so the group decides that Aladdin just needs to spend more time with him to win him over. Aladdin, Iago, Carpet, and Sultan fly off for a picnic the next day, which is of course a trap. Jafar and Abis Mal attack. For some reason the carpet doesn’t just sweep up the Sultan and fly away with him, and instead tries to defend the Sultan by tripping the bad guys. Can I just say how much better Jafar is as a genie than Genie. I mean, he’s obviously evil, but in terms of using powers he puts Genie to shame. Anyway, Aladdin is tossed into a raging river and the Sultan is carried away and Jafar congratulates Iago on his betrayal.
Aladdin wakes up, yells at Iago and returns to Agrabah only to realize he’s been framed for killing the Sultan (apparently torn hats = bodies? I don’t know, I feel like a more ambitious palace guard would…like…search for their missing ruler.) Jasmine comes in, acting all not Jasmine like at all, and yells at Aladdin for killing her father, sentences him to death, and runs off in tears before morphing into Jafar and revealing dun-dun-dun! The real Jasmine and Sultan chained up in another part of the castle (great job searching, guards) and Genie trapped in a magical bubble.
Meanwhile, my daughter is experiencing major sympathy pains for Iago. “He didn’t have a choice, Mommy. Why are they so mad?” I’m struggling for the words to explain how people often blame the victims in emotionally abusive relationships and how she’s right, it’s not fair. Iago is a tiny, helpless bird. All he has is his attitude and what’s that against an evil wizard, much less an all powerful genie. Jafar, as a human, put a full grown man-child of a king under his thumb. What exactly could a bird have done differently? Maybe the characters are so angry at Iago because he represents their helplessness?
Although, to be fair, first movie Iago had no nuance. He delighted in Jafar’s evil plans.And he started this movie out to take over Agrabah…so…. Some pre-planning would have made this whole transition a lot more believable.
Anyway, Iago flies to the dungeon and while ignoring all Jasmine and the Sultan’s bashing, frees the genie first, because he’s the most intelligent member of team Aladdin. The others realize what he’s doing and have a change of heart regarding their alliance with Iago just in time for them to be freed as well. Genie announces that if they destroy Jafar’s lamp, they destroy Jafar. And here I pause the movie and stare dumbly for a second because…what?
I’m sorry….destroying the lamp was an option? WHY DIDN’T THEY DESTROY IT AT THE END OF THE FIRST MOVIE? Why would they rely on the cave of Wonders? By the way, how did Jafar escape from the Cave of Wonders? That was kind of unclear. I mean, the start of the movie shows Iago digging the lamp out of the sand, but um…was it really that easy? Why couldn’t Jafar have dug INTO the cave of wonders to get the lamp in the first movie then? And why would Jafar sitting in a lamp for 10,000 years before being released into the world with major powers be a good thing? This completely undid the cleverness of the end of the first movie.
Anyway, they release Aladdin, and team Aladdin go on a mission to destroy the lamp. Mal is supposed to use his third wish to release Jafar, but he hesitates because what if all of his wishes go away without the genie there (nice call back to Aladdin’s hesitation in movie one, although, again I maintain that if the genies actually granted the wishes, not the illusion of them,this wouldn’t be an issue). During their argument, team Aladdin makes a play for the lamp,but failed to reach it. Iago swoops in to save the day and flys off with the lamp (instead of just dropping it in the lava, but okay, and gets critically hit by Jafar. The lamp and Iago land on a rock. Aladdin tries to knock it off the rock, but can’t reach, and Iago summons just enough strength to kick the lamp into the lava. The ground starts to shake, Aladdin is somehow magically able to reach Iago on the same rock he couldn’t reach the lamp on, and takes him to safety. Iago looks dead,but this is Disney, so they manage to work in the phrase “you’d be surprised what you can live through” into the movie 10001 times, Aladdin turns down the position of royal advisor and goes off to see the world with Jasmine.
Um…okay, selfish much? First of all, royal advisor was part of the Sultan’s slow plan to legitimize Aladdin in the eyes of his subjects so he could marry his daughter. Secondly, as a former street rat who better than anyone in the palace know how the subjects feel about their king and what they need, he could do a lot of good? Maybe instead of stealing treasure, he could point out that…I don’t know, the sultan’s people are STARVING.
Eh, at least I know why I only watched this movie once as a kid. And it entertained Bella for a while. 3 Stars.