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Title: The Little Mermaid

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:84

Finally we get around to another one of Disney’s “Gold” titles. “The Little Mermaid” has always been one of my favorite Disney titles growing up and it still holds that same luster and spark that it did when I was 6 years old watching the VHS tapes till they wore out from use. When I got older I noticed a few flaws to the film that dropped my enjoyment for it ever so slightly. “The Little Mermaid” is a case of overreaction and impulsiveness from both ends of the spectrum. For one we have an overbearing father with a little too many anger issues and on the other end we have a selfish girl who refuses to see it any other way other than HER way, and in the end, she GETS her way. That’s always rubbed me the wrong way when you glorify teen rebellion in the way that Disney did. On the other hand, the characters and songs make this movie a step above all the rest and that gives me some leeway to ignore the character flaws in Arial and King Triton.

Ariel (Jodi Benson), is a young 16 year old mermaid, daughter of King Triton (Kenneth Mars), and has everything a young ocean dweller could desire, except of course what she really wants, her freedom to explore where she pleases. Her father wants to protect her against everything that’s out there in the human world and Ariel is absolutely fascinated by it. She even collects human artifacts from sunken ships in her secret lair and imagines what it would be like to live up there in the sunlight. One day Ariel’s exploits taker her up to the surface as a ship is swamped by an ocean storm. A young prince by the name of Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes) is swept over board and rescued by the young mermaid. Falling in love instantly Ariel takes him to shore and leaves him alive. As you can guess this situation only strengthens her desire to go to the surface and see her crush once more, but Triton will have none of this. Forbidding her to ever return to the surface he even goes so far as to destroy her little mementos from the sunken ship. In a fit of rage Ariel goes to the sea witch, Ursula (Pat Carroll) and gets the sea witch to turn her into a human for 3 days so she can woo Eric. The problem is that the crafty sea witch has some ulterior motives in allowing Ariel her wish. Her price is that Ariel give her, her voice as payment during the 3 days. This allows Ursula to have an advantage and give Ariel a poor chance of wooing Eric. Thus she can have leverage over Triton when she owns Ariel and can gain access to the throne.


Ursula underestimates Ariel, though. With her sweet and endearing demeanor she starts to woo Eric even without her voice. Eric is still holding out for the woman who saved him and that voice was the ONLY thing that he remembered during the whole ordeal in the storm. Seeing that Ariel is getting close to sealing the deal, Ursula takes matters into her own hands, and comes to the surface as a beauty of her own, complete with Ariel’s voice. Putting Eric under a spell is able to get the prince to agree to marry her and in doing so rule the seas. Sebastian the crab, Flounder, her trusty fish and a crazy seagull are the only things that stand in Ursula’s way and Ariel will need all the help she can get to foil the evil witch.

Now while the story has aged a bit, and I take issue with the rebellious teenager routine, the only REAL issues in my opinion is some of the art. While the transfer is fantastic it’s obvious that for such a large budget Disney film the artwork tended to get a little sloppy and lacked some detail every once in a while. Lines were done a little hastily and some of the transitions from moving characters to backgrounds are a bit awkward.

Now there is ONE small issue that I will bring to the attention of the viewers because it has been ranted and raved about across the forums. There are a FEW slight discrepancies/errors in the video that have been compiled HERE. Now 99.9999% of people will never notice these issues and I personally don’t think they’re even worth complaining about, but I thought they should be revealed so you can make up your own mind. The only one that I would consider a real error is a small scene in “part of your world” where a split second scene of Flounder descending is swapped around. Again, unless you REALLY know what you’re looking for you won’t even notice it. I didn’t notice it upon viewing until I rewound and did it in slow motion to see where it was.
Again, with those slight issuesi n the open, I still HEARTILY recommend picking up the title, those things I mentioned were more nitpicks rather than huge flaws that should be corrected and certainly won’t impede the viewing except by the most OCD of viewers.


Rated G: for all audiences

Video :4stars:
Luckily we don’t have a DNR nightmare on our hands as we did with “Oliver and Company” and “The Sword in the Stone”. This one looks almost 100% tamper free really. To the extent that you can see some of the dirt and scratches that weren’t removed from the master. As annoying as those small imperfections are, it’s a total delight to see the unaltered film without all of the digital smoothing, complete with film grain and everything. The lines are clean and you are able to see the individual artist brush strokes crossing each other. Colors are bright and cheerful with rich reds, blues, greens and yellows saturating the screen. Detail is just as beautiful as one could have hoped for, with the exception of some minor haloing and banding. The haloing is mostly noticeable around body images more than anything and the banding is minor at best. Overall a great picture and a much needed relief from what I was dreading.

Audio :4.5stars:
Now the audio was even a higher step above than the video. Rich and luscious, Disney has given us a 7.1 DTS-HD MA re-mastered track (unfortunately the original track is nowhere to be seen, but the 7.1 track is phenomenal) that literally pulses with energy. Dialogue is centered right in the middle channel with some mild panning and the dynamics are fantastic. One moment Ariel is talking to flounder in hushed tones and the next a wild storm is roaring around us with lightning and thunder crashing in sonic waves of power. The surrounds are utilized to their full potential, with the swirling sounds of the storm sucking the viewer into the center of the maelstrom, and even the quieter scenes have a constant usage of those back channels with beautiful musical numbers and the sounds of Sebastian skittering along tables and floors. The LFE is just about spot on perfect for a Disney movie. Soft and subtle for most of the film it comes in with some incredible oooomph when the action picks up. There’s a nice low end to the film that rumbles when need be and quiets down in the interim. Last but not least I have to heap praises on the score. The musical numbers in Disney movies are one of the make-it-or-break-it features of a Disney film and “The Little Mermaid” has one of THE most iconic set of songs in the Disney catalog. From “Kiss the Girl” to “Under the Sea” the sound track frolics and dances all over the place causing the viewer to want to break out into song with the characters. Truly a beautiful track.

Extras: :4stars:
• @DisneyAnimation
• Under the Scene
• Howard's Lecture
• Deleted Character: Harold the Merman
• Part of Her World
• Crab-E-Oke Sing Along
• Music Video
• Director's Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Backstage Disney
• Music and More
• Disneypedia: Life Under the Sea
• Behind the Ride that Almost Was
• Under the Sea Adventure

Overall: :4stars:

I’m happy to see that Disney didn’t run “The Little Mermaid” through the DNR scrubber like they did with the last batch of animated titles I was able to review. Being one of Disney’s gold titles it deserves all the love it can get and with a fairly unmolested video encode and a great audio encode it’s already shining. HOWEVER, with the addition of brand new HD bonus features for the Blu-ray as well as the old DVD special features it ramps up from a good presentation to a GREAT one. A sweet movie, that literally bursts at the seams with fantastic characters and wonderful music, “The Little Mermaid is definitely on my “must buy” list.

Additional Information:

Starring: Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll
Directed by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Written by: Ron Clements, John Musker
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Rated: G
Runtime: 83
Blu-Ray Release Date: Oct 1st, 2013

Buy The Little Mermdaid 2D combo pack Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy The Little Mermdaid 2D combo pack with DC Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy The Little Mermdaid 3D combo pack Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Buy It

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks Mike for another great review. Very nicely written. Not only does it have a good story but it also has good songs. This is a must buy for us since the kids love "The Little Mermaid". Thanks once again!

1,546 Posts
Thanks for the review, Mike! I haven't seen this movie in years. I didn't pick up the DVD version for whatever reason, but I really wanted to pick this one up. I know my daughters will love to watch this one. I didn't end up getting it while it was on sale the first week so I will have to hold off until this goes on sale again, which could be a long time, considering it is a Disney title...

I am so glad they didn't DNR this one like they did Sword in the Stone. SitS being one of my wife's favorites I had to refrain from buying that one JUST for the horrible DNR they did with it.

402 Posts
For those who are bothered by the PoyW and Scuttle intro problems, here is the info for Disney's disc replacement program:

800-723-4763 (U.S.)
888-877-2843 (Canada)

Simply call and give them the required info (address, disc numbers, etc), an they will send you a return label for the DVD and BD (no replacement for the 3D is in place... yet)...
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