Decided to revisit this after reading the 25th anniversary piece in the New York Times a couple days. Yeah, it has some tonal issues (looking at y’all, gargoyles), but it’s an admirably ambitious film that succeeds in retooling a decidedly bleak and family-unfriendly novel into a narrative that ultimately affirms the goodness of human nature despite the corruption, hypocrisy, and oppression that threatens it. That definitely runs counter to the novel’s messaging, but hey, it works quite well here. A few deletions of tonal mismatches here and a little sharper character development there, and I think it’d be up there with the top pieces of Disney’s ‘90s renaissance.
And yeah, it’s freaking wild to see what the filmmakers got away with in this G-rated film, and even wilder yet that having the word “sin” being more intelligible in “Hellfire” is apparently one of the things that could have pushed it into PG territory.