Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Hunchback of Notre Dame II Review by Briana Alessio

This sequel from 2002 gives us a follow-up story on Quasimodo and the events which took place in his life post Esmeralda and Phoebus’ marriage.  We can safely say that most Disney sequels are never of equal quality as the first.  So first I can say that you should not go into this expecting a masterpiece.

The opening scene shows the beautiful bell in all of its shining, glistening glory.  There is an upcoming festival called Le Jour d’Amour where the villagers will proclaim their love to each other, so the decorations are being prepared.  By now, Esmeralda and Phoebus have had an adorable son called Zephyr; all three have a special bond with Quasimodo.  They discuss the festival and we witness a heartbreaking scene where Quasimodo admits his sadness in not having someone who loves him.

A circus rolls into town and we meet a performer named Madellaine.  She is balancing on a high wire, dreaming and wishing to be something more.  Sarousch tells Madellaine to get to know Quasimodo so he will feed her information.  She goes to the bell tower and despite Quasi’s wishes, sees his face.  She is greatly disturbed by this and flees.  This is the first mistake of the film.  If she was right for him, she would not have cared what he looked like.  But I digress.

Upon her departure, Quasi sings about how wonderful she is as he paints a figurine which bears a striking resemblance to Tinkerbell.  His three trusty gargoyles convince him to go to the Cirque de Sarousch to meet her again.  I guess by this time Madellaine has recovered from the fright of seeing Quasi’s face (insert eye roll of sarcasm here) because she is suddenly smitten with him.  Seeing his sweet friendship with Zephyr definitely helps the situation.  Quasi and Madellaine later have a dance in a rainstorm and it is easy to tell that they are quickly falling for each other.  Before they part ways, she kisses him on the forehead during a hysterical scene where he is so bewildered by this that he faints. 

Robberies begin to take place and some begin to think that the circus being in town is the cause of that.  Phoebus goes to visit Sarousch and finds a hidden gemstone.  Sarousch lies and blames this on Madellaine who Phoebus now blames for said robberies.  Sarousch and his men go to the bell tower and steal the magnificent bell bedecked with gemstones.  Zephyr spies on this and follows the men with his unisex goat (listen to the podcast episode for more on this). 

To use a frequently used term by Ryan Kilpatrick, we go back to the Ponderosa.  Quasi realizes Madellaine knew about Sarousch’s plan and blames her for using him.  We witness another heartbreaking scene where he falls on the stairway and cries.  Sarousch leaves town with the stolen goods including Zephyr and the goat.  Sarousch decides to use this to his advantage as a kidnapping of sorts, or a bargaining tool if you will.  Madellaine has been thrown in jail at this point since she has been blamed for the robberies.  Phoebus and Esmeralda release her so she can give them information.  She tells them to search underground since there is a waterway they most likely escaped through.  Sure enough, they find them as a fabulous rescue mission takes place including a tightrope and impressive acrobatic skills by Madellaine.  Sarousch is thrown in prison, the bell is returned to the tower, and Quasimodo and Madellaine loudly proclaim their love for each other in front of the inhabitants of France.

The original voice cast returned for this sequel.  The additions included the brilliant Michael McKean (Sarousch), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Madellaine) and Haley Joel Osment (Zephyr).  Bradley Raymond directed this one; Raymond also directed The Lion King 1 ½, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas, Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World, and a few Tinkerbell features.  Skip Kennon provided the majority of the music for the film.

Five Facts:
1.)  A hat of Sarousch’s in the circus tent is actually Mickey’s sorcerer’s hat from Fantasia ; this is seen in two different scenes
2.)  Haley Joel Osment who voiced Zephyr was 9 years old when the film was originally made but was 14 when it was actually released.
3.)  For a low budget film, big named actors provided the voice cast.  All of the actors from the first film returned except the original voice of Laverne, originally voiced by Mary Wickes.  Jane Withers voices Laverne in this one.
4.)  Difference of shoe color seemed to be popular with both Quasi and Zephyr.  They change from blue to brown a couple of times during the film.
5.)  During the "Le Jour D'Amour" sequence, we see a female’s dress change color from blue to beige then blue then beige, similar to shoe color changes.

The funniest moment in the film happens twice – Phoebus questions his horse Achilles how many times he has been wrong.  In response, Achilles slaps his hoof down repeatedly to which Phoebus answers “that was a rhetorical question.”  The characters are not quite as endearing as from the original but still manage to capture the Disney charm we all love.

The main message of this film is to appreciate more than just what your eyes can see.  When Quasimodo brings Madellaine to the city in France, he teaches her to listen with her ears and mind.  Through this, she discovers much about life which she did not understand previously.  Just because something does not appear beautiful to the eye does not mean it is meaningless.  You have to look beyond appearances to appreciate the true value of something.

This is a good sequel.  It is not bad nor is it great.  It is an enjoyable film which is worth watching.  Perhaps it is not worth owning but I would recommend it for a rainy day with the family.  

My Rating:  3/5

You understand the world better than anyone I’ve ever known.

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