The Little Mermaid 3D Blu-ray Review
In 1989, THE LITTLE MERMAID kicked off Disney’s ultimate foursome of movies that ended with THE LION KING in 1994 and had BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and ALADDIN sandwiched in the middle. All four movies had similar themes about teenagers growing up and accepting who they are, they all had incredible soundtracks and all featured state of the art animation at the time. But with Pixar and Dreamworks churning out pretty good animated movies themselves recently, it can be hard to go back and watch the older animated movies because on a technical level, they just don’t stack up. But those four classic Disney movies are the exception and even if THE LITTLE MERMAID isn’t your thing, it’s hard not to sing along with Sebastian as he bellows about the beauty of the sea or encourages a young Prince to just kiss the girl.
Ariel is the youngest princess living under the sea in her mermaid community. Although her father has lofty expectations of her, she’s the rebellious type and likes to spend her time sifting through buried treasure and dreaming of life on land. In an act of defiance against her father, she ends up saving a young prince from a shipwreck, sparking a love between the two characters that pushes Ariel to find a way to be with him on land. That leads her to the home of the evil witch Ursula, who makes a tricky deal with her in exchange for her soul. With three days to get the prince to fall in love with her and give her a kiss, Ariel sets out to make her dreams come true.
The story of a teenage girl rebelling against her parents and seeking a quick solution with an unsavory type is a common story these days. In essence, that’s what Pixar’s BRAVE was about, but I’d argue that few films have done it as well as THE LITTLE MERMAID. I’d like to comment on the positive message of the film, but I’m not so sure Ariel is as good of a role model as I used to think. Sure, she’s independent and goes after what she wants, but she’s also obsessed with marrying a prince and spends half the film trying to get said prince to kiss her. So I’ll leave any moral judgments on the film in the hands of the audience.
As much as I like the film and appreciate the good message, the truth is that the film doesn’t work without the music. If you delete the musical numbers, you’re left with a pedestrian story and early 90’s animation. But we’ll never have to suffer through that version of the film and instead, we get two of the most memorable songs from the Disney catalog, sung very well by Samuel E. Wright in his trademarked Jamaican-ish accent (even though he was born in South Carolina). Just when you think the movie is going to starting to get boring, Sebastian the crab pops up to give you a nice musical number, reminding you why you like this film so much in the first place.
Disney fans obviously have to include this great Blu-ray release in their catalog. THE LITTLE MERMAID withstands the test of time and the music is just as fun now as it was when I was a little kid. It may not quite live up to the greatest Pixar movies, but it’s still a wonderful film worthy to be among the Disney classics.
THE LITTLE MERMAID 3D BLU-RAY REVIEW
It’s great to go back and watch classic Disney films in 3D, but something about the experience with THE LITTLE MERMAID didn’t work. The 3D caused certain scenes to lose clarity and there were several moments when I couldn’t tell the film was in 3D. The depth lacked at times and the film really isn’t a 3D-type movie. However, seeing the film in 3D gave new life to THE LITTLE MERMAID and did add an extra element.
THE LITTLE MERMAID BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The 2D release of THE LITTLE MERMAID is absolutely stunning. The colors of the sea shine through beautifully.
Audio: The audio is equally as impressive.
@DisneyAnimation (10:58): This is a decent featurette with the directors of THE LITTLE MERMAID and several other Disney animators talking about their inspirations and love of animation.
Under the Scene (13:02): A nice look at the process of using real drawings and real pictures as reference for the animated scene.
Howard’s Lecture (16:01): This is a featurette about Howard Ashman, who passed away in 1991 from AIDS.
Deleted Character: Harold the Merman (1:59): Apparently, there was a character named Harold that had a run-in with Ursula, but never actually made it into the film.
Part of Her World (4:57): Jodi Benson provided the voice of Ariel and this featurette follows her as she goes to Disney World with her kids.
Crab-E-Oke Sing Along: “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” “Les Poissons” and “Kiss the Girl” all get the karaoke treatment.
Music Video: “Part of Your World” from Carly Rae Jepsen, she of the “Call Me Maybe” fame.
This Blu-ray set also includes all of the special features from the DVD release.
Commentary with Ron Clements, John Musker and Alan Menken
Backstage Disney (9 featurettes)
Music & More
Disneypedia: Life Under the Sea
Behind the Ride that Almost Was
Under the Sea Adventure