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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Comedy > Fantasy > The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Beginning (Disney DVD)

The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Beginning (Disney DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C+



Many already know this reviewer’s less than enthusiastic feelings towards Disney’s ‘straight to DVD’ releases; but Disney’s newest DVD addition of The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, is not all that bad.  The art is good, the songs are entertaining and overflows with goodhearted entertainment.  The problem with this release, however, is that it does nothing to standout on its own, but instead is content with living in the shadow the original 1989 Little Mermaid.  The 1989 Little Mermaid was epic with its ground breaking songs, art direction, and astonishing creativity.  This new release once again seems to be another by Disney to milk a past blockbuster for all its worth.  This critique of Disney sequels is not to be misunderstood that all of the studios sequels are bad (Toy Story 2 was excellent), there just seems to be an undying barrage of lackluster sequels that taint the good Disney name.


The plot to this 77 minute feature is not all too detailed or exciting, but is better than most recent straight to DVD sequels; at least as far as plot.  The underwater kingdom of the merpeople used to be a happy one filled with song, laughter, and life; but after a tragic event music was banned from the kingdom forever.  King Triton’s daughters along with the rest of the kingdom were no longer allowed to sing or perform music.  Triton’s daughters were kept under close watch at all times by an evil governess names Marina Del Rey at all times; but secretly the governess hates her job and lusts after Sebastian the Crab’s job as the kings attaché.  Ariel (the king’s youngest daughter), however, longs to sing and hear music once again.  In the cover of night with her new friend Flounder, Ariel sneaks off to a hidden music club where she not only finds the music she had ever so missed, but a few other shocking but familiar faces as well.  After the secret club is discovered by the evil governess trouble in the merpeople’s kingdom erupts and all hope in ever hearing music again seems lost.


The music of this short film is not very memorable and the art, where as bright and colorful, seems to lack any depth or detail with its glossy image.  The Disney feature films seem to get the star treatment and the home video releases are overproduced and too crisp.  Whereas this film is fun and family friendly with an adequate plot, life is definitely not better under the sea this time.


The technical features are as good as any (if not better) than any recent Disney ‘straight to DVD’ release.  The picture is presented in a bright and colorful 1.78 X 1 Widescreen that has a consistent crisp image and few issues at all.  The sound in its Dolby Digital 5.1 Surrounds is crisp and clear, but could have used the sound stage better, especially during certain musical numbers.


The extras on this new release are neither exciting, nor are they plentiful.  The extras include a 2 Deleted Scenes that neither add nor detract from the film, a Disney Song Selection option that allows the viewer to pick songs and sing along with the words at the bottom of the screen, a Mermaid Discovery Vanity Game that is meant for the kids, and 2 Backstage Disney featurettes.  The Backstage Disney features are the best extras; one giving a ‘making of the film’ look and the second giving a backstage look into the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid.


Overall, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning is not a bad film, it just in no way is a Disney classic.  The film will certainly entertain the rugrats for an hour or so, but hardcore Disney fans might find this mermaid release dead in the water.


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-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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