It is the season for animated sequels, and right on the tail of Cinderella 2, Disney has released The Hunchback of Notre Dame II.
“Return to the magnificence of Notre Dame in Disney’s all-new movie, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME II, a fun, romantic adventure told with vibrant animation and music as soaring as its setting. Still the faithful protector of Notre Dame’s beloved bells, Quasimodo now rings them with the help of Esmeralda’s and Phoebus’s little boy,…Zephyr (Haley Joel Osment). Stopping with Zephyr at a traveling circus owned by the evil magician Sarousch, Quasi is captivated by the Sarousch’s lovely assistant, Madellaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt). But greedy Sarousch is about to force Madellaine to help him steal the Cathedral’s most famous bell. Quasi listens to his own heart and discovers that he, too, must look past appearances to find true love. All of the original voice talent reprise their roles, including Demi Moore as Esmeralda, Tom Hulce as Quasimodo, and Kevin Kline as Phoebus.” – BVHE
I can not believe that a straight-to-DVD animated release features both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio tracks. And not only are both of these tracks included, they are both fabulous. The music is portrayed beautifully, and the soundstage is used very nicely for an animated film. There is nice front-to-back as well as left-to-right sound movement though out the film, and the DTS contains a little deeper base response. Disney continues to out due themselves, especially on their “non-theatrical” releases.
As is the fact with most direct-to-video releases, the animation does not compare to the original Hunchback of Notre Dame. That is not to say that the animation is bad, but just not the same. The transfer is good but does have flaws. The color separation is not very accurate, and the black levels are not very solid. This video quality is good for a non-theatrical film, but would not cut it on the big-screen.
There is not a lot in regards to valuable special features here… more like filler features. There is a short four minute featurette “Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Love Hewitt” that is just a basic promo reel for the film, a “Festival if Fun” in which kids learn about the music in the film, sneak peek trailers, and a Jason Alexander (or “Hugo”) poem entitled It’s Not Easy Being A Gargoyle. The menus are sharp and simplistic with very nice animation and a nice score.
While children of the world will appreciate the story and the music, Adults will praise the DTS audio and ability to leave their children in front of the TV unsupervised for 68 minutes. This DVD is good for the whole family.
Special Features List
- “A Gargoyle
- Festival of Fun Activity – puppet theater & Bells of Notre Dame game
- Behind the Scenes with Jennifer Love Hewitt
- Sneak Peeks