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The Hunchback Of Notre Dame 2 Movie Collection Blu-ray Review

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame 1 and 2 Blu-rays

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is underrated while its sequel is a needless follow-up.

In Disney’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the story revolves around a disfigured orphan (Quasimodo) who is forced to live in a Paris church bell tower for his entire life by his cruel new father Judge Frollo (who killed Quasimodo’s mother). One day, during the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo is urged by his 3 gargoyle pals to venture outside for the Festival. When he does so, he faces public humiliation and is scolded by Judge Frollo, but he does make a new friend (Esmeralda, a gypsy woman) who changes his life. In fact, Quasimodo develops a crush on her and offers her sanctuary in the church, but she has eyes for the former Captain of the Guard (Captain Phoebus) who also saved her life. While all of this is going on, the hateful Judge Frollo is trying to hunt down Esmeralda and find the home of the gypsies (the Court of Miracles). Can Phoebus and Quasimodo save Esmeralda and stop the evil Judge Frollo?

On paper, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” seemed like an odd project for Disney to take on, but from a thematic stand-point, it’s not hard to see why it was chosen. While ‘Notre’ is arguably Disney’s darkest film (see the implied torture, the sadistic and villainous Judge Frollo, and the sequences involving people being nearly burned or killed for example), the animated feature is filled with important messages about living, being unique, fear, kindness, intolerance, tolerance, cruelty, opinions, beauty, vanity, forgiveness and heroism.

Personally, I found the darker tone refreshing as it’s rare to see Disney take an intriguing risk like this. Naturally, it paid off for them as the film was not only a huge box office hit, but one of Disney’s last memorable traditional animated films to boot.

If you’re worried about the more adult themes and scenes here, don’t be. There’s plenty of Disney staples here including comic relief characters (the gargoyles and Esmeralda’s goat), pop culture references (which are a bit distracting here actually), and catchy musical numbers (namely “Out There,” “the Bells of Notre Dame,” and “Topsy Turvy”).

Not to be forgotten here is the animation work (which is truly quite magnificent). From the soaring shots over and through Paris and the ambitious Feast of Fools sequence to the action sequences and Quasimodo’s breathtaking swinging around the church acrobatics, it’s hard not to get swept up into the film’s visuals.

Now, you’re probably wondering to yourself, how does the made for DVD sequel fare? Aside from the fact that Disney managed to coax the original cast to reprise their roles, there’s not much to admire here.

The story of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame II” involves another festival, a circus, a greedy thief magician (Sarousch) who wants to steal a valuable church bell, and a young woman (Madellaine) who falls for Quasimodo. As you can probably surmise, the sequel is little more than an excuse to give Quasimodo a happy ending (and a love interest). Sure, it’s slightly interesting to catch-up with Quasimodo and Esmeralda, Phoebus and their new son, but the songs are forgettable, the story is sappy, and the small subplot involving Hugo the gargoyle falling in love with a goat (Djali) is downright weird. Skip this cheap cash-in.

Video/Audio:

The first film is presented in 1.78:1 1080p while the sequel is presented in 1.66:1 1080p. The first film has simply never looked better. Once again, Disney does not disappoint with these hi-def transfers of their theatrical classics as they manage to make the animation even more beautiful. The sequel, on the other hand, doesn’t look very impress. While the transfer is an improvement over the DVD, the animation flaws are really highlighted here. Dirt specs and flickering are noticeable at times as well.

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA tracks are impressive for both films (though more so for the first). From the sound of the bells ringing to the musical numbers, the tracks are ever lively.

Extras on the Blu-rays and DVDs:
* Disney trailers.
* “Topsy Turvy” sing-along song.
* “A Guy Like You” multi-language reel. The song presented in multiple languages.
* “The Making Of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame”- Jason Alexander hosts this making of featurette that contains film clips, cast and crew interviews, discussions about the classic tale and the animation, etc.
* “Topsy Turvy Underground Game”- A DVD game.
* An informative commentary on the first film by Don Hahn, Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale.
* “Festival Of Fun Activity”- Another DVD game.
* “Behind The Scenes With Jennifer Love Hewitt”- Hewitt talks about her work and the character she plays.
* “A Gargoyle’s Life: It’s Not Easy Being A Gargoyle”- Hugo talks about life as a gargoyle.

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March 18, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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