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The Hunchback of Notre Dame II(2002)
Now that Frollo is gone, Quasimodo rings the bell with the help of his new friend and Esmeralda's and Phoebus' little son, Zephyr. But when Quasi stops by a traveling circus owned by evil magician Sarousch, he falls for Madellaine, Sarouch's assistant. But greedy Sarousch forces Madellaine to help him steal the Cathedral's most famous bell.
For more about The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and the The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Blu-ray release, see the The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Hulce, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Michael McKean, Demi Moore, Kevin Kline, Haley Joel Osment
Director: Bradley Raymond
» See full cast & crew
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Blu-ray Review
"Fools! This is not the ending I had in mind..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 6, 2013
Disney is keenly aware of the appeal and reach of its catalog, down to the best and worst films under the Mouse House banner. Titles like Cinderella and Peter Pan arrive separately and to great fanfare, while other titles shuffle onto shelves en masse, sans the red-carpet treatment afforded their Platinum and Diamond Edition brethren. Last year, it was The Aristocats, The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under, Pocahontas, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, The Tigger Movie and Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, all of which released in a single week in August. This year the mois du jour is March, and the releases include Robert Zemeckis's Who Framed Roger Rabbit (the fan-favorite odd man out in the March 12th lineup) and a trio of 2-Movie Collection Blu-rays: The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Mulan and Mulan II, and Brother Bear and Brother Bear 2. (Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Atlantis: Milo's Return were originally set for March 12th as well but were unceremoniously and indefinitely delayed without explanation.) And, once again, the deluge is another hit or miss affair, with a classic live-action/animation hybrid, three solid (or at least decent) animated features and a near-unbearable batch of direct-to-video misfires.
Unfortunately, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is little more than the first film's ill-begotten direct-to-video offspring. Unnecessary and even a bit unwelcome, it doesn't justify its existence, much less deliver anything of significance, making its imperfect but breathtaking predecessor seem almost flawless by comparison.
Released six years after the first film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, like other Disney direct-to-video sequels before and after it, doesn't have a grasp on the elements that make the original so memorable. The animation is beyond lackluster and a dire downgrade from the stunning visuals that came before it. The songs aren't nearly as integral or revealing, nobly searching for purpose but finding little. The script is weak, the stakes too low, the new characters less interesting and the conflicts less meaningful, while Frollo -- one of the vilest villains in Disney history -- is followed by master thief Sarousch (Michael McKean), who doesn't hold a candle to the malevolent Minister of Justice. As to the story itself, the sequel focuses on Sarousch's apprentice Madellaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who cozies up to Quazimodo (Tom Hulce) so her master can steal La Fidèle, one of Notre Dame's bells. She finds more to the deformed bell-ringer than she anticipated, and soon develops genuine feelings for her oblivious mark. Demi Moore and Kevin Kline return as Esmeralda and Phoebus, now married with a six-year-old son named Zephyr (Haley Joel Osment)... who pitches in to help thwart Sarousch's plot.
Young children will still enjoy the return to Notre Dame, not to mention catching up with Quasimodo and his chatty gargoyle pals (Jason Alexander and Charles Kimbrough return, with Jane Withers replacing the late Mary Wickes). Like the original, though, the gargoyles may as well be a rash, this time they're just paired with a perky love interest and a precocious tot. Because that makes it all better. If I sound harsh, it's because The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is one of the most maligned direct-to-video Disney sequels and doesn't have much redeeming value. (Again, outside of the short-lived hour -- literally -- of joy it will bring kids itching to check in with Quasi.) Animated sequels are already tricky propositions, and Notre Dame II rarely feels like anything more than a not-so-clever cash-in. Disney has shown it can pull off a decent DTV sequel (The Lion King 1½ wasn't so bad), it just requires an idea worth the investment. Rather than turn to real history for inspiration or find new inventive ways to plumb the works of Victor Hugo with Quasimodo and company, the studio settled on a half-baked heist flick set in 15th century Paris. Not exactly an idea worth investing in... and yet here we are, with The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and its 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation aren't waylaid by many technical issues, but the sequel's terribly mediocre animation and direct-to-video source make it difficult to enjoy any of it. Colors are skewed and off-putting (despite the fact that the image is inherently brighter), primaries are loud but lack real punch, black levels waver and contrast is all over the place. Granted, the line art is smooth and satisfying for the most part, and the original animation is represented rather faithfully. But minor artifacting and instances of banding are present, dirt and dust litter the image, and print damage -- specks, lines and scratches -- make the 2002 production look as if it were minted twenty years earlier. When push comes to shove, the encode holds up I suppose. So there's that. Otherwise, the sequel doesn't have much to offer the high definition viewer other than a nominal upgrade to the DVD.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Direct-to-video sequel analyses usually boil down to one half-hearted point: it's decent. It is, after all, a DTV sequel. And The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is no different. An objective success and a subjective bore, the sequel's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track does everything it should yet underwhelms all the same. Dialogue is clean and clear, song lyrics are well-prioritized (almost too dominant, truth be told), LFE output is solid, rear speaker activity is light and lively, and a few playful directional effects lend welcome movement to the soundscape. The sequel's sound design was clearly created on a budget, but it tackles every routine task with technical aplomb. No complaints here. No high praise either.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a worthy addition to any Disney Animation collection. The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is not. Lazy and tiresome, it hobbles along for a ghastly hour before throwing in the towel and rolling credits. Thus the marketing genius of the 2-Movie Collection, which saddles the good with the bad. Fortunately, both trips to Notre Dame are blessed with strong AV presentations, even if special features are few and far between, particularly when it comes to the sequel. So add this one to your cart for the original film alone, treat The Hunchback of Notre Dame II as an extra, and reap the singular Hunchback of Notre Dame reward.
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