Review of Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame 2
by Shannon Muir
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Feature: 7.5 out of 10
Sound: 8 out of 10
Picture: 8 out of 10
Bonus Materials: 4 out of 10
Navigation: 10 out of 10
# of Discs: 1
- Main Feature
- "Festival of Fun" (game)
- "A Gargoyle's Life" (illustrated poem short)
- "Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Love Hewitt" (interview)
Info from Amazon.com
HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME II picks up roughly seven or so years
after the original, as evidenced by Zephyr (voiced by Haley Joel
Osment), the young son of king's guard Phoebus (voiced by Kevin
Kline) and his enchanting wife, the gypsy dancer Esmerelda (voiced
by Demi Moore). Zephyr's formed a strong friendship with Quasimodo
(voiced by Tom Hulce), who still rings the bell in the clock tower.
This movie does assume you are familiar with the first film and
doesn't really spend much time reintroducing characters save a
few throwaway lines in the first musical number.
of HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME II involves taking a second look and
not jumping to conclusions. While this is most evident between
Quasimodo the hunchback bell ringer and Madelline (voiced by Jennifer
Love Hewitt), the magician's assistant who only works for the
evil villain to keep from being turned into the authorities for
trying to steal from the crook when she was a youth, the theme
shows up in other relationships. The prize Notre Dame bell La
Fidele appears more beautiful underneath than on its surface.
There's also a subplot about Phoebus making assumptions regarding
Madelline and the traveling circus and lumping them in with gypsies,
despite the fact his wife Esmerelda is one, which causes friction
of the story revolves around the Festival of Love coming to town,
and Quasimodo lamenting there's no one for him. Esmerelda -- Quasimodo's
crush from the first film -- tries to reassure him that someone
will come for him. No sooner does this get said than a circus
rolls into town featuring magician Sarousch (voiced by Michael
McKean) and his assistant Madelline. Madelline's assigned by Sarousch
to "wile and guile" the bell ringer so that La Fidele
can be identified and ultimately stolen. This is largely because
Sarousch plays as a self-absorbed, single-faceted, but ultimately
cowardly character, who needs people such as Madelline and other
assistants to do things for him. He exists more as a threat to
influence Madeline's motivation than anything else. In fact, Zephyr
exists mainly to up the stakes in the climax because Sarousch
is such a weak character.
of the movie comes in the growth of Madelline and Quasimodo's
relationship to one another. Madelline first sees Quasimodo, and
to the film's credit, becomes repulsed and runs off, refusing
to complete Sarouch's assignment. How Madelline and Quasimodo
come together for her to try again flows naturally, though possibly
quickly given the film's timeframe. Early on, young Zephyr asks,
"Who's going to scream your name tomorrow, Quasimodo?"
(meaning, who will proclaim her love of him at the festival).
Which means the events of this movie should take place over the
course of a day and a half maximum. However, the climax with Sarousch
comes at sundown of what would be the "tomorrow" referred
to, ending the movie in broad daylight the following day. I can
only be left to conclude that the part of the festival for which
the bell was to be used originally should have happened at sundown.
Also, it's not clear how Sarousch knew in advance exactly where
the tunnels were under the town before his arrival, which from
Madelline's comments he would had to have known to pull off his
scheme. Overall, though, the evolution of their relationship proves
enjoyable to watch.
The trio of
gargoyles from the first film also appears in this movie, but
there's not much I can say about them. Their appearances are few
and far between, and I didn't really find any of the bits they
did to be funny. Mainly, the three characters seem to be in out
of obligation and for marketing.
for this direct-to-video presentation was done, as most Disney
"video premieres" are, by the Walt Disney Television
Animation department. It's very well animated, full of dynamic
action that keeps the story moving with few talking heads (and
even then, they're "singing heads"). Speaking of singing,
there are five musical tracks to this story, which range from
average Disney fare to touching. "An Ordinary Miracle"
proves to be the strongest of these in writing and lyrics, the
fact it furthers Quasimodo's character, but most importantly how
it captures the universal theme of looking at life and hoping
for ordinary miracles to happen to us. "I'd Stick With You"
is a fun buddy song between Quasimodo and young Zephyr. More average
Disney fare are the opening crowd number "Le Jour De A'Mor,"
as setup for the Festival of Love commences, and "Fa La La
La Falling In Love" celebrating the joy and discovery of
Quasimodo falling in love with Madelline. Jennifer Love Hewitt's
closing ballad "I'm Gonna Love You" feels like it shouldn't
have been relegated solely to the closing credits. HUNCHBACK OF
NOTRE DAME II certainly could have benefited from the extra screen
time, clocking in at a short sixty-eight minutes. The overall
soundtrack plays crisp and clear, mastered in either Dolby Digital
5.1 or DTS 5.1 for English. You can also choose French or Spanish
soundtracks in Dolby Digital 5.1. For the hearing impaired, English
language captions are also provided as an option.
materials seem to be an afterthought. My score is one point for
the fact they bothered to include any, and mainly kudos for the
nicely produced "Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Love Hewitt"
piece, which is actually recycled from the Disney Channel film
review program, MOVIESURFERS. Jennifer explains how she views
the Madelline character and tells the story of how her song for
Madelline became the movie's end theme.
of Fun" is a poorly animated game where you can choose to
control either the ringing of a sequence of bells or the dance
of a shadow puppet, up to six sequences or moves. The animated
figure (Quasimodo ringing bells or the shadow puppet) always returns
to a central position between each sequence or move and pauses
for long periods, creating a jarring flow. The cutaways to the
annoying jester hand puppet are done with black screen between,
further leading to a choppy feel. While this game probably was
designed to appeal to very young children, I'm not sure they'd
be old enough to control the game with the DVD remote; a parent's
help would probably be required.
Life" is a short illustrated rhyming poem read by Jason Alexander
(who plays the living stone gargoyle Hugo) about the day-to-day
life of the gargoyles. Jason's reading is entertaining and funny,
but the animation to go with it shows little effort. As little
movement as possible appears in the shots, and what does calls
attention to itself as extremely limited animation. Sometimes
there were shots intercut from the films themselves, which made
the newer, poorer footage all the more obvious. I felt I'd be
better off not watching the screen and just listening to the reading.
Given how little the gargoyles actually play a role in the movie,
this seems a half-hearted attempt to make up for it.
is very simple. Basically you just follow a fleur de lis icon
around as it points to your current selection. The menus are multi-tiered,
with only a few choices on each level, not crowded at all. For
the chapter selection screen, where a yellow box highlights your
current selection, only four chapter choices with a corresponding
still are shown per page (there are a total of twenty four chapters).
Titles for each chapter are short and to the point, with no overly
cutesy or clever names to distract or puzzle you.
How to ultimately
weigh in on HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME II comes in as somewhat problematic.
Based on screen time and character development, Madelline qualifies
as the lead character when it should be Quasimodo, who comes in
second. If this movie is truly viewed as a sequel, it comes up
short as its main character does not come from the original cast;
the original cast largely plays instead as support roles to Madelline.
However, viewing the story strictly on its own merits, about a
traveling circus girl who may find love and redemption through
a hunchback bell ringer, it's a compelling, albeit short story.
So I find myself having to deduct from the DVD's feature rating
slightly for not living up to being a true sequel, but still recommend
it as worth a rental at least.
- Easy navigation
- Choice of DTS or Dolby Digital sound in English for audio connoisseurs
- Strong themes and compelling primary characters (Madelline and
- Running time of 68 minutes
- Weak bonus features
- Weak characterization of Sarousch
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