140 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2006
Finally got around to watching this last night. In this review I'm not going to bother to review the movie itself. It's seventeen years old. I'm sure if you are interested in it you've seen it by now. Rather, I'm going to review the technical quality of the film and the extras provided on the DVD. One thing that feel I should point out up front is that the movie HAS been edited, but only in one scene. The infamous 'clergyman sporting an erection' that caused such a stupid flundie flap has been photoshopped. The theatrical poster artwork is not on the cover or anywhere on the disc for a similar reason. You can find out more by going to Snopes and looking in the Disney films section. I personally don't care, but some people do. Now, on to the review.
This version is widescreen, but it's 16:9 widescreen and not theatrical widescreen, but this has been the case in pretty much all the Disney movie DVDs so no surprises there. The Little Mermaid was the next to last movie Disney did using painted cels, and the film has gone through some kind of digital restoration process. There are comparison shots on the back of the DVD box that show the difference. The colors are very vibrant, and I didn't notice any problems with the encoding or animation. There is support for surround sound and audio tracks in English, French, and Spanish.
It's a two disk set. Disc one has the movie, the configuration options (subtitles, commentary, language ect), a music video of the song 'Kiss the Girl' by someone I've never heard of, a bunch of previews that will be outdated in a few months, and a preview of what's on disc 2. On the box it touts something called Fast Play, which basically means when you load it in, after the standard FBI warnings and all that, the disc gives you the option of immediately starting the movie or going to the menu with the stuff I just mentioned. If you choose to start the movie directly, it plays a bunch of previews that you can skip past using chapter forward on your remote, if you go to the menu and pick play movie, it starts right away. You're actually not forced to sit through ten minutes of BS previews with no way to skip them like on some of the previous Disney DVDs. I approve.
The majority of the extras are on disc 2. It's broken up into three major sections: Backstage Disney, Deleted Scenes, and Games. Backstage Disney is the largest section. It has scads of concept art (imagine Ursula as a lionfish or manta ray instead of an octopus), a videos on how the movie was made, and a new animated short, The Little Match Girl. A silent film with a musical background and is amazingly enough, actually true to the story. It's pretty well done, IMHO. Deleted scenes is just that, stuff that was cut. There really isn't much. Only three selections, and two of them are just pieces that were cut from scenes that did make it in. There's an expanded version of the opening song, a very short scene where Triton's daughters tell Sebastian that Ariel isn't at the recital before it starts, and an extra verse in Ursula's song. All of these were cut before the final animation was done, and so as you watch it switches back and forth between storyboard still shots and very rough sketchy animation. The games I didn't even bother with, because has there ever been a DVD player game that hasn't totally sucked? Didn't think so.
Overall, it's going to boil down to how much you like the movie, and how much you hate minor edits. If not seeing Jessica Rabbit with no underwear for three frames bothered you, then this DVD is not for you. Otherwise, it is a comprehensive look at the movie that marked the beginning of Disney's second golden age.
I give it 9 out of 10 voice containing seashells.
30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
In a wonderful kingdom under the sea lives the beautiful mermaid princess, Ariel, seventh and youngest daughter of King Triton, ruler of Atlantica. Ariel's feisty spirit and gorgeous red hair make her a bit of a favorite among Triton's daughters, and her passion for learning human ways and collecting of their artifacts causes much stress to her family and friends. After spying a handsome, young, human prince aboard a ship one evening and saving his life, Ariel is instantly love-struck, and this is completely unacceptable to her overbearing, human-hating father. In a desperate and rebellious action, Ariel turns to a seductive sea witch for help, who takes possession of Ariel's beautiful voice in exchange for a magical spell. The spell changes Ariel's fish-like tail into a lovely pair of human legs, but there is a condition attached. If Ariel can't get the young prince to fall in love with her in three days and seal it with a kiss, the spell will be broken and Ariel will join the witch Ursula's collection of hideously transformed victims. Luckily, the prince is in love with her already, though he doesn't know it. Prince Eric is obsessed with finding the young lady who saved him from drowning that night and whom he caught a glimpse of as she sang to him just before disappearing. When he takes in the now human Ariel after she appears seemingly washed up from a shipwreck, her inability to speak makes him sure she is not the one. Voiceless and only left with her beauty and exuberant charm, Ariel and her animal friends must try their best to make the prince see that she is the lost love he has been searching for, but the Sea Witch will do all she can to stop them before time runs out! If Ursula holds power over Princess Ariel, the king himself will have to bow down before her!
Like "Cinderella" and "Snow White" before it, "The Little Mermaid," released in 1989, single-handedly saved Walt Disney Animation from total vaporization. Following a bit too modestly performing releases and the underrated but still not up to par flop, "The Black Cauldron," this was a last chance for Disney animators to prove animation could still draw and please the film going public; and, boy, did they ever prove it! With just the right combination of story, music, voice talent, and visuals, "The Little Mermaid" turned out to be one of the Disney Studios' most perfect achievements! The Oscar winning music is particularly noteworthy, as one of the film's most groundbreaking moves was bringing a Broadway style to its musical storytelling. This was thanks to the amazing team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who would return to do more brilliant Disney music during the so-called "Renaissance" kicked-off by "The Little Mermaid." Voice talents that must be mentioned are Disney legend Buddy Hackett as the voice of Scuttle, Ariel's dizzy Seagull friend, Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian, the little Caribbean crab that often steals the show, and, of course, Ariel the little mermaid herself, graced with the heavenly voice of Broadway actress Jodi Benson. Pat Carroll does a phenomenal job as the loathsome Ursula, and Christopher Daniel Barnes manages to be a vast improvement on past, rather bland Disney princes. The film, of course, is based on the famous fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson. The original story is actually a bit of a downer, something Anderson had a flair for, and the one, rare complaint that viewers sometimes make about the movie is how much it strays for its Disneyfied rewrite of the story, particularly with its happy ending. But, this complaint doesn't come up that often, and Disney's take successfully carries on the original theme of a mermaid wanting more than her under-sea life will allow. It also beautifully and convincingly handles the father/daughter relationship and the difficult issue of letting go when the time is right. "The Little Mermaid" continues to be one of Disney's most beloved animated classics, and with good reason. It is no less than a masterpiece.
Now, this is easily one of my favorite Disney animated features. I suppose it is for most Disney fans, but with me there's an added incentive: I am absolutely in love with Ariel! Have been since she first splashed onto the big screen! I mean, she's pretty much perfection, with that voice, that bubbly personality, that hair, those eyes, that nose, those lips (notice, I'm not commenting on those seashells, because I'm not a pig, but they're great too), ... and when she gets legs, whoa! I'm so in love with her that I bought one of those overpriced, framed Jodi Benson autographs at Disney World once, along with one of the collectible reproduction animation cels. And this was when I was a student! I mean, I really had to save up for stuff like that! Anyways, point is, I was naturally very psyched about this new, 2-disc, Platinum Edition release of the film. And, in general, I'm very happy with it. There are a few items I don't know why were left out. However, I thankfully found one of them later as one of the two Easter Eggs on disc Two. But, without further ado, here are some details on the DVDs:
Disc One contains the flick itself (in anamorphic widescreen), beautifully restored (though some have complained that it has been overly restored and isn't EXACTLY how the film was meant to look, but it still looks great) but with some slight editing. Yes, editing. It appears that the old Urban Legend about the minister in the wedding scene being aroused has been addressed, and that knee of his that some people imagined to be a different body part has been redrawn. Moving on, Disc One also has a wonderfully informative and at times touching commentary with writer/directors Ron Clements and John Musker, and composer Alan Menken. The late Howard Ashman, lyricist, is included too at times via audio recordings. One music video is included, and this is where I voice one of my complaints of something else that should have been included too. The last VHS release of "The Little Mermaid" included a Jodi Benson video where she sings "Part of Your World" on a beach. This video is NOT the one included. What we get is a cute, Disney Channel star promoting video of Ashley Tisdale singing "Kiss the Girl," and it's fine. I like it. I just think it's pretty bad that the Jodi Benson video wasn't included as well! Another Disc One extra is the Sing Along option for key musical moments in the film, though not all are included. We also are given a sneak peek of the extras on Disc Two, and the more interesting sneak peek at the upcoming sequel, "The Little Mermaid 3." It's a clip of a scene that seems to vaguely remind me of an episode of the animated series where Ariel discovers Sebastian moonlighting as a performer at an undersea nightclub. Speaking of, let's hope the success of this Platinum DVD inspires the DVD release of the wonderful animated series as well.
Disc Two is where the majority of extra features can be found, and while I'm not blown away by the sheer amount of stuff (as I have been in some past Platinum releases), there's still lots of really neat stuff here. The main attraction here should be "Treasures Untold: The Making of the Little Mermaid," which can be found in the Backstage Disney section, and it's certainly a great behind the scenes featurette on the making off the film, full of great interviews and insight into those difficult days at Disney Animation. However, one also wishes the old Disney Channel "Making Of" program was included too, hosted by Alyssa Milano (one of several supposed inspirations for Ariel), which would have had that wonderful "real-time" feeling that you don't get from "after-the-fact" interviews. Yes, that definitely should have been included in the "Platinum Edition." Anyway, as I said, the main attraction here SHOULD be the behind the scenes featurette, but there's something else very special on Disc Two of "The Little Mermaid." Two somethings, in fact. One is an unrelated Disney animated short film, "The Little Match Girl." It's a beautifully done piece with a true to the story ending (believe it or not) that was originally intended for the canceled "Fantasia 2006." No Disney fan should miss owning this amazing piece of Disney filmmaking! The other fantastically special something on Disc Two is filed under, believe it or not, Games and Activities. Yes, something GOOD under Games and Activities! It's an actual virtual ride on a Disney theme park attraction that was never created: an actual Little Mermaid ride! You can "ride" the ride by yourself, or with audio commentary, and there is even a featurette about the ride that "Never Was." Disc Two also features some great deleted scenes selections, an improved DisneyPedia that plays all in one chunk, the original theatrical trailer, the very cool early presentation reel, a retrospective featurette on the effects unit, a charming featurette that looks at Hans Christian Anderson's Little Mermaid in comparison with Disney's take, and, of course, the art galleries. I always enjoy seeing the character development galleries, particularly of Disney's loveliest females. These galleries could be more thorough though, as I love to see promotional/advertising art and merchandising images too. Speaking of, there are two Easter Eggs on the Treasures Untold Menu, as I think I mentioned earlier. Why the McDonald's ornament commercial was not included as a third, I have no idea. I mean, they got permission to show it and yet only showed a couple of seconds of it during the making of featurette. This commercial, with it's wonderful, exclusive animation of Ariel and her fish friend, Flounder, would have been a perfect Easter Egg. Anyway, what we do get is one Easter Egg of the writer/directors drawing caricatures of each other, which is cute, but I'd rather have the commercial, and another Easter Egg about the live-action referencing. Now, this second one is the Easter Egg I was so happy to find! As I mentioned, I was soooo in love with Ariel from the moment the film came out, and this extended to a love for her voice (Jodi Benson) and her live action reference model, Sherri Stoner, who was basically a brunette Ariel. I adored Sherri in that behind the scenes special from when the film first came out and was so disappointed that footage of her performing as Ariel for the animators was not included in "Treasures Untold." It wasn't even mentioned. She wasn't even mentioned! Well, while I do not feel it should have been relegated to an Easter Egg, I was so happy to find it after thinking none of it was included. It's not enough footage, we should have been given more, but it was still nice to see again along with the brief, recent interview moments with Sherri! And while I'm still sad that Jodi's video wasn't included as a Bonus Feature, that particular Easter Egg, plus "The Little Matchgirl," plus the virtual theme park ride, and most importantly, the film itself, one of the best things ever to come from the Disney Studios, make this Platinum Edition DVD a MUST OWN!
64 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2005
People need to be VERY cautious when buying Little Mermaid. This DVD has been out of print so long that it is actually quite rare to find a truly new disc. I've actually had the misfortune of buying several Disney DVD's at auction only to find that they are counterfeit discs even though the box is shrinkwrapped. I e-mailed the seller of one of these DVD's and found out that apparently there are a lot of people who separately buy counterfeit DVD's in bulk (usually from Asia) along with packaging materials. They then assemble all the stuff together, shrinkwrap the whole thing (yes, people actually buy shrinkwrapping machines to do this!) and sell it as new on the web. This also explains all those electronic auctions where the seller makes the outrageous claim that their DVD's don't ship in a hard case but instead come in a more protective sleeve (which is BS) or they're trying to save you shipping (that's because they don't have the authentic cases to send you).
So how can you determine whether you disc is authentic or not? Well, from my experience, several things have clued me in to a particular disc being fake. First start with the packaging. Any authentic Disney (or any brand) DVD has tamper-proof stickers that must be torn or removed to get to the disc. There is always a sticker on top, but some titles also have them on the side and bottom too. Almost all (although I have seen some exceptions) Disney DVD's have shrinkwrap that are stamped with a Buena Vista logo so you can tell if the shrinkwrap was put on at the factory or done by someone else. Also, since counterfeiters frequently are putting everything together themselves look for abnormal signs of wear and tear. For example, if you see a scratch or dent on the paper cover artwork, but the case itself is physically fine, you should be suspicious as to how the artwork could have been damaged if it is supposed to be new and the case itself is undamaged. Another sign I've encountered (and rather obvious one) that a DVD is re-packaged is that the DVD itself will have scratches and/or fingerprints on it. When's the last time you picked up a brand new DVD from a store and found the disc to have scratches and/or fingerprints? That's right - never.
Now the most important way of determining whether a disc is authentic or not is to check the content on the DVD, specifically the size of all the data on the DVD. For this step you'll need to put the DVD into a computer to find out the size of the DVD. For example, the fake Little Mermaid DVD I got off eBay showed up as having 3.6 GB of data. This immediately raised a flag in my head because the back of the Little Mermaid DVD packaging claims that the disc is in dual-layer format. Dual-layer format DVD's are only used for movies that have more than ~4.5 GB of data. In fact a search on the internet revealed that the authentic Little Mermaid DVD was supposed to have 5 GB of data ([...] The fact the data of my DVD wasn't more than a single layer's worth meant that the content of my DVD had been compressed and was a counterfeit. Furthermore, it explained why the quality of the movie was so bad. So check if the packaging says that the disc is in dual-layer format, the data takes up more than ~4.5 GB of data, or even better see if you can find the exact size of the disc from an online review.
If Disney cared about the damage these low-quality discs have on their reputation, they should clamp down on the rampant sale of counterfeits of their movies online. BTW, after discovering this new world of Disney fakes, I finally was able to find an authentic, new Little Mermaid DVD. People who are selling authentic discs usually know they are rare & valuable and typically charge more (think ~upper $20's to $40's) than the bootleggers.
BTW, to explain my rating of the DVD - I would have given the movie 5 stars for the movie, but knocked off 1 star for the lack of extras. We all know Disney can put out some really high caliber releases which, unfortunately, this being one of the earlier DVD's is not one of them.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 1999
"The Little Mermaid" is quite simply the best movie ever made. Some people may rave about "Aladdin", "Beauty and the Beast", "Mulan", and the others, but this is the winner, no questions about it. It is THE best movie, cartoon, show, etc., ever. Ariel is charmingly sweet and innocent; she has a sense of humor, and is optimistic, intellegent, and stubborn. She believes that the world is basically a good place---which it is. Ursula is the most malovolent, frightening-ly funny Disney villian ever. The crab Sebastian is, well, crabby, but he's a "soft shell" underneath it all. Prince Eric is fairly one-dimensional, like all Disney princes, but he has something none of the others seemed to have had: a sense of humor. Flounder is afraid of his own shadow but will encounter anything for his best friend Ariel. The dog Max is goofy and lovable; the same can be said about the seagull Scuttle. And then there's King Triton. Stern and strict, he obviously loves his little girl Ariel and tries to be a good father to her. Even by helping her to reach her dream, as all good parents do. ----- Don't be mistaken into thinking this is a romance movie. Ariel doesn't want to be human just because she loves Eric; she is also fasinated by the human world and has always dreamed of being human. It's underlying message is: "Reach for your goals, and you CAN be a part of the world that you want to be a part of. Dreams can come true, through hard work." And Ariel DOES have to work for her dreams! ----- I have loved this movie since it first came out when I was seven. I saw it at the theater 6 times (and once more when it was re-released last year), and saw the video well over a hundred times. I just watched it again last night! I have many special memories from this film . . . including the night when my Dad came home from work, very late, because he had spent two or three hours coaming all of Philadelphia to find me a Little Mermaid doll. I was SO happy to see "Ariel" herself at home, with my father grinning all the while. I can still see the scene in my memory. My Dad passed away this year, and I miss him horribly. But I know that he'll always be with me, just like Triton will always be "with" Ariel. And I still have that Little Mermaid doll. ------ See this movie. You'll never forget the music, the humor, and the magic "Under the sea"!