HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Hunchback of Notre Dame/The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2
HTS Overall Score:65
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
As with Mulan we have another of the 1990’s Disney animated films packaged in with its direct to video sequel. Same as Mulan “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” isn’t in the realm of the classics, but instead hovers jut underneath that hallowed status. “Hunchback” is one of the last of the 90’s animated films that have had 100% hand drawn animation done for its lush visuals. I consider the animation work done for this film to be one of the best done in many many years and is for sure one of the most intricate. Combine that with one of the creepiest Disney villain to date and you have one of Disney’s most unique animation adventures ever. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2” on the other hand, is one of the most maligned Disney sequels and most justifiably so. Lacking any of the heart and soul of the original it just goes through the motions and is pretty much only fit for young children who don’t care.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame :4stars:
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is very loosely based upon the novel bearing the same name, by Victor Hugo (and by loosely based I mean VERY loosely based). Quasimodo (Tom Hulce) is a deformed hunchback living in Paris, France during the 1400’s. Oppressed and hidden away from the regular town folk by his adopted father, Frollo (Tony Jay), a domineering and puritanical French Minister, he is forced to live his life in seclusion. His only friends being a trio of gargoyles and the ringing of the Notre Dame church bells, he lives his life just wishing to get out, while torn to stay due to the brainwashing that Frollo has imbued upon our poor hero. Finally defying his master’s ultimatum to stay put, he goes to the Festival of fools where he meets the lovely gypsy Esmeralda (Demi Moore), who changes his life forever. Frollo, realizing Quasimodo’s attraction to Esmeralda, Frollo uses that to his advantage by manipulating Quasimodo into leading him to the gypsy hideout where he can realize this long term goal of wiping the gypsy’s out of Paris.
“Hunchback” tends to be a bit hit or miss, which is the reason for its exclusion from realizing its status as a classic Disney film. The good most definitely outweighs the bad, though. We are stuck with a trio of comedic gargoyles, who tend to be more of a distraction instead of being the classic Disney sidekicks of the past. Forgettable and cheesy, they end up just distracting us from the main plot and drag the film down a bit, couple that with a romantic triangle between Quasimodo, Esmeralda and the captain of the guard that should have been abandoned, and we have our full star subtraction here. The good, on the other hand, is very very good. Quasimodo is truly tear jerker of a character who will tug at your heartstrings. For any of those who have been the butt of people’s jokes during their younger years will instantly identify and sympathize with our poor hero. One of the fastest ways to anger me is to pick on and ostracize someone for having a handicap, or something that makes them just slightly different from the status quo. As a result “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is one of the dearest to my heart story wise and the one that can touch my heart the fastest out of all the Disney stories. Taken with a more mature twist it stands out as being the darkest and the most mature of the classics. Frollo himself has to be one the most eerie and twisted villains to grace the animated screen and comes across as truly terrifying, not just because of how he was drawn or acts on screen, but because there are so many people like him out in the world today. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” begs the question, what makes a monster a monster? Is it what he looks like? Or what he is on the inside that makes him a monster?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 :2stars:
Set years in the future (and six years after the original was animated) Quasimodo is still ringing the bells, this time without the influence of his former master. Esmeralda and Phoebus are married and have a young child and all is right with the world. The hiccup comes when Quasimodo goes to a travelling circus where he is preyed upon by Sarsousch, a travelling magician and master thief, and his apprentice Madellaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt). It appears that Sarsousch wants to steal one of the bells of Notre Dame and has Madellaine feign attraction to Quasimodo in order to get closer to his goal. Only problem is that Madellaine starts to fall for Quasimodo, thus throwing a monkey wrench into her master’s plan.
Devoid of almost any redeeming quality, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2” is one of the WORST sequels that Disney has ever done. While most are just mediocre, and some even good, this one is just forgettable and unneeded in any way. Sarsousch is nowhere near the villain that Frollo was and the animation is beyond horrendous and low budget. The characters are barely recognizable due to the animation’s slashed budget from the fantastically drawn original. The gargoyles are back again, and just as annoying as ever. The only ones who will gain pleasure from this sequel are children six year olds or parents who wish to use this as a one hour babysitter.
Rated G for general audiences
The Hunchback of Notre Dame :4stars:
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” has always had some of the strongest animation in the 90’s animated films. Rich with detail and colors it is a masterpiece in the animation department. Unfortunately a few flaws in the transfer tend to dampen that just a tad. There are quite a few scenes involving some mild Banding and Aliasing and the print appears to have some minor imperfections with it. Other than those semi-mild inconveniences the transfer is rather solid overall. Colors are rich and lush with plenty of pop. Primary colors flood the screen from every direction and create a vivid environment whether it be the purples and blues of the gypsy caravan, to the rick reds and deep blues of Minister Frollo’s lair. Lines are excellent and smooth allowing for plenty of animated detail to shine through.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 :3stars:
While the transfer for the sequel is fairly solid, it’s animation tends to make for a horrendous viewing experience. The budget for this was barely 10% of its predecessor and it shows in spades. Absolutely awful animation that renders our characters barely recognizable, and a rather dirty, speckled print leaves much to be desired here. Compression artifacts tend to show up and a large amount of aliasing in most every scene keep the scores fairly mediocre. Colors and contrasts are decent, but with the poor animation it doesn’t help much.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame :4.5stars:
Now HERE is where the film really shines. Giving us a bombastic 5.1 DTS-HD MA track Disney lights up the soundstage with a rich and immersive environment. Dialogue is centered in the middle and songs are rich and full. My only complaint was that sometimes the vocals in the songs got a little over powered by the music itself. The Surrounds are used excellently, whether it be the clopping hooves on cobblestones or the whirling of flames lapping at Frollo’s robes, they create an excellent and immersive soundstage. LFE is deep and powerful, from the first 5 minutes of the film I knew we were in for some impressive low end to the film. The ending battle scene light up my subwoofer and didn’t give it rest till the ending credits.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 :3stars:
Satisfying is about the best I can say about the sequel’s audio track. Doing nothing really bad, or nothing really good is about its crowning achievement. Dialogue is clean and balanced as ever, the songs are balanced with the vocals and luckily no drowning out occurs. LFE is mild and used appropriately. It really just is a middle of the road experience that does its best with the limited budget it was given.
• Audio Commentary
• The Making of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"
• Multi-Language Reel
• Sneak peeks and trailers
• Behind the Scenes
•A Gargoyle's Life
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is a great film that deserves to be in every Disney collector’s collection. Sweet and endearing with just the right amount of drama and realism, it is an excellent, albeit dark, Disney film. The sequel on the other hand is just horrible in all respects, stumbling along, firing on only ½ a cylinder for the bare hour of its run time, it gasps its way to the finish line and falls over dead. My suggestion, as usual, is to own the film based upon the scores for the original film and leave the sequel as just “another special feature” on the disc.
Starring: Tom Hulce, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Tony Jay, Jennifer Love Hewitt
Directed by: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Bradley Raymond
Written by: Tab Murphy, Jule Selbo, Flip Kobler
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC, 1.66:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French, Russian DD 5.1, English, Portugeuse 2.0 DD
Runtime: 90 minutes, 65 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Buy The Hunchback of Notre Dame/Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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