The Hunchback Of Notre Dame II One More Enjoyable Stand-Alone Sequel

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

The sequel to Disney’s modern classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame has hardly been one of the most accepted of sequels from Disney’s canon.  While it has been largely rejected by fans and critics alike, perhaps the reason for this is that much like Mulan II, it has been improperly marketed.  The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is, much like Mulan II, less a sequel than a stand-alone story.  Hunchback of Notre Dame II picks up years after the events of the first movie.  Esmerelda and Phoebus have a young son who it would seem is at least six or seven years old.  And having originally brought the pair together, Quasimodo is now looking for his own special woman.  It just so happens that said woman enters his life when a circus comes to town.  The circus is led by a less than honorable man, thus audiences get the story’s central conflict, thus pushing Quasimodo’s romance plot to a secondary role.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame II—as noted–has almost no link to its predecessor.  Its only link to the previous film in this franchise is the inclusion once again of Quasimodo’s gargoyle friends, as well as Esmerelda and Phoebus (both voiced once again by Demi Moore and Kevin Kline).  Jason Alexander also returns as the gargoyle, Hugo.  Other than the return of these characters and a couple other returning cast members, this sequel really is not a sequel at all.  But because it was titled as a sequel, expectations by audiences and critics alike were high to say the least, and thus dashed when it turned out that it was not so much a sequel, but more a stand-alone story.  Here’s where things get interesting.  Should The Hunchback of Notre Dame II been marketed directly as a sequel?  Probably not.  However, that doesn’t mean exactly that it’s a bad story.  When viewed as the stand-alone story that it is, it actually has its merits.  The first of those merits would have to be its animation.  One must absolutely remove this movie from its predecessor in order to fully appreciate this.  Audiences must also keep in mind in watching this movie that a certain amount of time has passed.  So there should be no expectation of this movie having direct relationship to the first of the franchise’s films.  Doing so will make suspension of disbelief easier and thus will make the movie more enjoyable.

One of the biggest qualms that audiences and critics have had with The Hunchback of Notre Dame II is the movie’s animation.  This is a full on hand drawn movie.  Most audiences might compare it to Disney’s most recent anime brand of movies.  However, older audiences will appreciate the animation as it throws back to the hand drawn animation of certain 80s TV shows.  One of the most notable of those shows would be a little animated cartoon called The Littles.  Just knowing this reference and comparing the cartoon in question to this movie will surely generate a certain sense of nostalgia among older audiences.  And it serves as a reminder that cartoons made in the twenty-first century still can be made in the “old school” style.  For that matter, it proves that audiences still need the style of animation in question, considering that so many movie studios and TV companies rely so heavily on digital animation today.  So while many audiences have panned this movie for having used classic hand drawn animation, odds are those people that did so are those who have grown up knowing only digital animation rather than the joy and identity that comes with hand drawn animation.  It proves too, that Disney can and should at least try more often to use hand drawn animation versus digital for its big theatrical animated features.

It was nice to see Disney return to actual animation with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  Being able to enjoy the animation allows one to focus on the story itself.  The story behind this “sequel” is only slightly tied to that of the original movie at best.  It takes place years after the original.  The ability of audiences to keep this in mind helps to separate this movie from the original, in Disney’s defense.  On the other hand, had this movie been given a different title, instead of being simply titled, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, it might have been better received by viewers.  That aside, the story itself is simple enough for any viewer to follow.  Quasimodo is forced to make a very important choice when the woman for whom he falls turns out to not be entirely everything that she seems.  In the end, audiences get a happy ending that proves love truly does conquer all.  It will leave viewers whose minds are open enough with enough of a warm feeling that they will hopefully be able to overlook their past view of the movie and see it for its value as another enjoyable stand-alone story from Disney.  It’s available now on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack alongside The Hunchback of Notre Dame in stores and online.  The new combo pack is available in stores and online.  It can be ordered online in the Disney Store at and at the Disney DVD store at

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame Is One Of Disney’s Modern Classics

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios has largely made its fame on taking classic literary stories and adapting them for the big screen.  For the most part, doing so has led to great success for Disney.  So it goes without saying that when Disney’s heads decided to bring Victor Hugo’s literary classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame to audiences in animated form doing so was a pretty big risk.  That is because this is hardly the happiest of stories.  Somehow though, Disney managed to pull off the job and craft what should be considered to be one of the company’s modern classics.  Whereas its renditions of The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, Cinderella and others are considered the company’s original classics, its take on Hugo’s literary masterpiece fits nicely into the category of modern classics.  This is the case for a variety of reasons. In watching this rendition, one can’t help but be taken back to Disney’s golden era.  From the subtlety of the mix of hand drawn and digital animation, to the big song cues to the animation, one actually feels as if one is actually watching a stage presentation made into an animated film.  And while it may be a little bit scary for younger audiences with its darker elements, it still stands as one of the better works in Disney’s modern era.

Viewers that closely watch the newly re-issued Hunchback of Notre Dame I/II combo pack will catch a subtlety that others might not that harkens back to Disney’s golden era.  That subtlety is a mix of animation styles.  There are a handful of scenes throughout this movie that show on one side, the rougher, less “streamlined” animation style sitting side by side.  This is explained briefly in the original “Making of featurette” that was included in the movie’s previous release.  Actor Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) explains the reality behind the misconception that all animation done for Disney movies—at the time—was done by computer.  The difference between the hand drawn animation and digital animation is pretty clear.  And the very fact that animators tried to duplicate the animation of Disney’s famed “Nine Old Men” even in the slightest in this feature makes it worthy of at least a little bit of respect.

If the attempt by animators to replicate the animation of Disney’s most famed animators isn’t enough for viewers, then perhaps the story’s musical numbers will help win over audiences.  Composer Alan Menken returned for this movie after having massive success nearly a decade prior on another of Disney’s biggest modern classics in The Little Mermaid.  The animation works in tandem with the big musical numbers to really leave viewers feeling like they are watching a stage presentation in animated form.  That’s even more the case now that the movie has been re-issued on Blu-ray.  There is just a certain quality on which one can’t put one’s finger that pulls audiences in and makes the story believable.  That’s the sign of a quality work.

If the song cues and the animation aren’t enough, then the movie’s more comical moments will entertain audiences.  Even in some of the movie’s darker moments, the story’s writers come up with some pretty funny moments to help lighten the mood.  A prime example of this comes late in the movie, in the final showdown sequence.  As Quasimodo and Frollo face off in the cathedral’s tower, soldiers are below, trying to break in.  Laverne (voiced by the late Mary Wickers) helps in the fight by calling on a large group of birds.  This moment is a tribute not just to the classic Warner Brothers movie, The Wizard of Oz, but also to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic, The Birds.  While the latter tribute may have been unintentional, it is there.  It’s just one of so many moments that will have viewers laughing.  Add in Jason Alexander’s comedic timing and viewers get more than enough laughs to offset the movie’s darker moments.  Those darker moments being offset and the movie’s enjoyable musical numbers and hybrid animation together make The Hunchback of Notre Dame one of the better movies from Disney’s modern era.  One might even go so far as to call it one of Disney’s modern classics.  It is available now on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in stores and online.  It can be ordered direct from the Disney store at and at the Disney DVD store at

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