on February 19, 2014
THE LITTLE MERMAID [1989/2014] [Diamond Edition] [3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + Music] The 28th Disney Classic That Gave Voice To A Whole Generation!
Experience Ariel’s magical, musical world for the first time ever in dazzling 3D Blu-ray and Digital Copy! ‘The Little Mermaid,’ is one of the most celebrated animated films of all time, is now spectacularly transformed with state-of-the art digitally restored picture and brilliant high definition sound!
Venture under the sea where Ariel, a free-spirited mermaid princess, longs to be part of the human world. After bravely striking a bargain with Ursula, a sneaky sea witch. Ariel embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. With Flounder and Sebastian at her side, Ariel will need all of her courage and determination to make things right in both her worlds.
Share the wonder with your family, as you dive into the beloved classic Walt Disney animation film – now even more amazing than ever on 3D Blu-ray!
FILM FACT: Awards and Nomination: Academy Awards®: Win: Best Original Score. Win: Best Song for Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's "Under the Sea." Nominated: "Kiss the Girl" song. Golden Globes® Awards: Win: Best Original Score. Win: Best Original Song for "Under the Sea." Nominated: Best Motion Picture. Nominated: Best Original Song. 1991 Grammy Awards: Win: Best Song "Under the Sea” for Alan Menken and Howard Ashman,
Voice Cast: René Auberjonois, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, Paddi Edwards, Buddy Hackett, Jason Marin, Kenneth Mars, Edie McClurg, Will Ryan, Ben Wright, Samuel E. Wright, Jim Cummings (uncredited), J.D. Daniels (uncredited), Gerrit Graham (uncredited), Rod McKuen (uncredited), Malachi Pearson (uncredited), Kimmy Robertson (uncredited), Caroline Vasicek (uncredited) and Frank Welker (uncredited)
Directors: John Musker and Ron Clements
Producers: Howard Ashman, John Musker and Maureen Donley
Screenplay: Chris Hubbell. Gerrit Graham, Howard Ashman, John Musker, Ron Clements, Sam Graham and Hans Christian Andersen (original story)
Composer: Alan Menken
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French: 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital and Portuguese: 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Running Time: 83 minutes
Region: Blu-ray: All Regions and DVD: NTSC
Number of discs: 3
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: After glimmers of a change at Walt Disney Animation surfaced with the entertaining ‘Oliver and Company’ and ‘The Great Mouse Detective,’ the full flowering of Disney’s animation renaissance is indelibly showcased with 1989’s ‘The Little Mermaid.’ An exquisitely drawn animated musical, ‘The Little Mermaid’ returned enchantment and awe to the art of the animated feature, and Disney has never looked back. The film still plays like a dream with its toe-tapping music and an involving story of a wish fulfilled, and with it now available in 3D, some of the musical numbers are definitely enhanced though, for the most part, the adding of a third dimension doesn’t have quite the same dramatic effect on the storytelling that it did with Disney’s follow-up musical ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
Sixteen-year old Ariel [Jodi Benson] is the young mermaid daughter of King Triton [Kenneth Mars], ruler of the seas, but she’s more than a little curious about the human world floating right above her. During a particularly violent storm at sea, she rescues Prince Eric [Christopher Daniel Barnes] and falls instantly in love with him. But in order to become his wife, she must shed her tail and acquire legs. To do that, she visits sea witch Ursula [Pat Carroll] who tricks her into signing a document granting her legs in exchange for her voice with the proviso that she has only three days to make the prince fall in love and kiss her. If she fails, she becomes a desiccated member of Ursula’s prison lair. Without her voice to identify to Eric that it was she who rescued him, Ariel is dependent on her friends Sebastian [Samuel E. Wright], Flounder [Jason Marin], and Scuttle [Buddy Hackett] to help her achieve her heart’s desire and prevent Ursula from taking over the sea.
Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale has been given the magic Disney touch with the addition of Ariel’s singing sea buddies and the change of ending, but as with the best of Disney’s animated features, the protagonists go through daunting trials and tribulations against often frightening antagonists before the end arrives. Along the way is the absolutely first-rate musical score by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman which gives the film its greatest distinction. Though some of Disney’s previous fairy tales were full scale musicals, the score for ‘The Little Mermaid’ is of Broadway quality with intricate rhythms and lyrics so fresh, witty, and spot-on that the cumulative effect of the brilliant animation and some of the best and most colourful Disney had turned out in decades, the involving story, and the superb music is an overwhelming one. “Under the Sea” is the first of many eye-popping production numbers to come in the Disney animated musicals, its reggae-rhythm infectious to the point of lifting one out of his seat and onto his feet to dance around the room. Both Ariel and Ursula have their songs of yearning: Ariel’s lovely “Part of Your World” and Ursula’s snaky “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” Ship’s cook Louis [Rene Auberjonois] sings his menu plans in “Les Poissons” which suspiciously seems more like a dry run for “Be Our Guest” in the next Disney musical, but “Kiss the Girl” sets up a lovely calypso-style ballad animated against a hilarious array of comic sight gags. This song is a perfect encapsulation of the new Disney mantra for these musicals: beautiful and heartfelt but never sacrificing a sense of fun for mere sentimentality.
The voice casting is exquisite. Jodi Benson exudes the adolescent fervour of the youthful Ariel, and her handling of “Part of Your World” is boundlessly joyful and filled with the hopes and dreams of the young. Pat Carroll more than earns her place among the great Disney villainesses as the scheming, creepy (in more ways than one) Ursula. Samuel E. Wright as the crab Sebastian gets the film’s two most bracing numbers “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl” and also offers a comic touch as Ariel’s (mostly ignored) voice of reason. Buddy Hackett as the scatter-brained seagull Scuttle wears a little thin by the end, but he’s a basically harmless distraction, and Jason Marin makes a sweet little companion for Ariel as Flounder. Kenneth Mars has great authority as King Triton while Paddi Edwards effectively voices the evil moray eels Flotsam and Jetsam who carry out their mistress Ursula’s bidding.
3D Blu-ray Video Quality – The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in a stunning 1080p encoded image. The image is pristine and features unparalleled sharpness and rich, deeply saturated colour. The clarity also allows the viewer to marvel at the special effects used to simulate the undulating water in the underwater sequences. There is no banding or any other distracting artefacts to mar the visual presentation. While the 3D conversion has been carefully applied to the original 2D animation, the result effects are totally brilliant. Great depth and creative use of object placement is most visible, especially in the “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl” production numbers and in the typhoon sequence early in the film. Ursula’s later rampage is curiously not as effective in three dimensions as one might have suspected it would be. While there are no forward projections, one notices constantly that had the film been originally animated with 3D in mind, a number of stunning uses of forward projection, including bubbles, King Triton’s trident, Ursula's tentacles, and certainly the climactic confrontation between Ursula and Eric, are quite effective. Thankfully there is no crosstalk in the film proper, though I saw quite disturbing amounts of it in the main menu which certainly gave me pause before starting the film.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mix uses the wide sound field to maximum advantage with this musical adventure. There are numerous instances of split sound effects which are placed in the fronts and rears and which occasionally pan through the soundstage with expressive use of the surround channel on several occasions. The wonderful orchestrations for Alan Menken’s tuneful score place varying instruments in their own part of the audio field for a terrific sense of immersion into the music. Dialogue has been masterfully recorded and has been placed in the centre channel.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
The Little Mermaid: New 1080p Bonus Features:
Special Feature: @DisneyAnimation [1080p] [11:00] A fantastic little Disney Animation feature that begins with Little Mermaid directors John Musker and Ron Clements, then visits with numerous other studio animators, veteran and rookie, to learn about their inspirations, motivations and early forays into animation. I only wish it were longer. This is the sort of behind-the-scenes extra that deserves an upgrade to feature-length documentary.
Special Feature: Under the Scene [1080p] [13:00] This "Art of Live-Action Reference" feature delves into the resurrected craft of drawing upon real world elements, actors and reference footage to overcome difficult animation challenges and unite the animators on complex shots.
Special Feature: Howard's Lecture [1080p] [16:00] Meet one of the unsung heroes of ‘The Little Mermaid,’ and the late Howard Ashman, a writer and lyricist who sadly passed away in 1991 of complications. Howard Ashman was the lyricist for 'The Little Mermaid'. He did what the filmmakers called a "lunchtime lecture" for the animators during the film's production. That lecture, about the importance of musicals and why the form works, is intercut with modern interviews.
Special Feature: Deleted Character: Harold the Merman [1080p] [2:00] Musker and Clements introduce poor Harold the Merman, who not only earned Ursula's wrath, but didn't even make it into the finished film.
Special Feature: Part of Her World [1080p] [5:00] "Jodi Benson's Voyage to New Fantasyland" follows the Ariel voice actress to Disney's Animation Resort, where she attends festivities and takes her children to Walt Disney World and Ariel's Grotto in New Fantasyland.
Special Feature: Crab-E-Oke Sing Along [1080p] [16:00] Sing along with "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Poor Unfortunate Souls," "Les Poissons" and "Kiss the Girl," with these dynamic karaoke shorts.
Special Feature: Music Video [1080p] [4:00] Carly Rae Jepsen performs "Part of Your World." "Part of Your World" was written at the behest of Ashman, who felt that it was necessary for Ariel to have a song in which she shares with the audience her hopes and dreams, similar to a traditional Broadway musical. The song has been mostly positively received by critics, who praised Ashman and Menken's song writing abilities as well as Benson's vocal performance. Despite being the film's theme song and critically lauded, "Part of Your World" did not receive a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, while The Little Mermaid's "Under the Sea" and "Kiss the Girl" did.
The Little Mermaid: Classic DVD Bonus Features:
Special Feature: Deleted Scenes [489i] [26:00] Seven lengthy but unfinished deleted scenes are available, with introductions by Musker and Clements: "Fathom's Below" (Alternate Version), "Backstage with Sebastian," "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (Alternate Version), "Sebastian Lost in the Castle," "Advice from Sebastian," "Fight with Ursula" (Alternate Ending) and "Silence is Golden" (Song Demo).
Special Feature: Backstage Disney [1080p / 480i] Nine separate extras are grouped within the disc's "Backstage Disney" section:
Special Feature: The Little Match Girl  [1080p] [7:00] A lovely animated short, with director's introduction. An animated short based on Hans Christian Andersen's tale about a poor young girl with a burning desire to find comfort and happiness in her life. Desperate to keep warm, the girl lights the matches she sells, and envisions a very different life for herself in the fiery flames filled with images of loving relatives, bountiful food, and a place to call home.
Special Feature: The Making of The Little Mermaid [489i] [46:00] This is an excellent 6-part production documentary.
Special Feature: The Story Behind the Story [480i] [11:00] A look at Hans Christian Anderson and his original tale.
Special Feature: Storm Warning: Special Effects Unit [480i] [9:00] Focuses on the film's storm at sea.
Special Feature: Under the Sea Early Presentation Reel [480i] [3:00] Concept art set to music.
Special Feature: John and Ron Make Caricatures of Each Other [480i] [1:00] The directors draw one another.
Special Feature: Animators Comment on their Characters [480i] [2:00] Brief interview snippets.
Special Feature: The Little Mermaid Handshake [480i] [1:00] The directors demonstrate a secret handshake.
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [2:00] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘The Little Mermaid.’ What a shame they could not of upgraded this.
Special Feature: Music & More [1080p / 480i] [14:00] Navigate to "Music & More" to access four songs with on-screen lyrics [1080p] "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Les Poissons" and "Kiss the Girl" as well as a "Kiss the Girl" [489i] music video with Ashley Tisdale.
Special Feature: Disneypedia: Life Under the Sea [1080p] [8:00] A child-friendly oceanic wildlife feature.
Special Feature: Behind the Ride that Almost Was [1080p] [6:00] Here we get to see why they abandoned plans for a Little Mermaid attraction.
Special Feature: Under the Sea Adventure [480i] [4:00] A virtual theme park ride. Journey under the sea and become part of Ariel's world as one of the most beloved animated films of all time, ‘The Little Mermaid,’ transforms into a brand-new, musical attraction for the whole family!
Finally, one potential drawback should be mentioned, and that is that one has already generated a lot of internet chatter and even cries for a recall. There were a few very minor errors made in the main feature, apparently during the film’s restoration. I almost didn’t think it was necessary to mention this, because in my humble opinion they are by no means a deal breaker. I would never have caught these changes, meaning the main ones being a slight change in the timing of the opening credits’ appearance onscreen and a minor editing change in “Part of Your World” that results in a few seconds of mis-matched lip sync while Ariel sings, but for those concerned, this video contains side-by-side comparisons of the 2006 inferior DVD and the new stunning 3D Blu-ray. ‘The Little Mermaid’ still ranks as one of the great Disney animated musicals. Coming to 3D Blu-ray after many of its contemporaries have already made an appearance fills a gaping hole in the Disney animated Blu-ray catalogue. The 3D conversion is pleasant but not a required upgrade for the film. Nevertheless, I am still pleased to add this to my ever expanding Walt Disney Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom