This film has something for both adults and children.
Negotiating some of the Special Features was a little confusing.
The Little Mermaid tells the triumphant tale of Ariel. A spunky, red haired mermaid who despite her father Triton's best advice, ventures above the surface of the ocean and ends up falling in love with Prince Eric. However, love is never simple in stories such as these and it should surprise nobody that Ariel has to make a deal with Ursula to become human herself. Things are okay for awhile, but nobody can be what they aren't forever and eventually things come to a climax with Triton and Ursula confronting one another. Based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid is a timeless tale that is filled with all the wonderment and side characters that have made Disney films so beloved the world over.
Ron Clements and John Musker (the co-writers and directors on the film) and the movie's composer Allen Menken sit down and discuss this film. They talk about how the project came together, what the goals were, how much they enjoyed working on The Little Mermaid, and pretty much everything else. I think these guys knew who the audience they were addressing on this commentary track was, so they don't get too technical on the overall creation of this film.
Music Video: "Kiss the Girl" by Ashley Tisdale
Games & Activities
As is usually the case with Disney DVDs they have to have something for everyone. This DVD comes with the Under the Sea Adventure, which is actually something that Disney Theme Park fans might find very interesting. It is a "virtual ride" that was created by Disney Imagineering. It allows prospective park goers to take a spin on the ride that was almost built for this movie. This section also contains DisneyPedia which gives kids the ability to learn about the characters from the movie as they are in the ocean in real life. While these two supplemental features are for kids (actually, they all are), they do provide interesting and unique moments.
Go backstage and see Deleted Scenes that have never been shown before. I don't think that they illuminate the movie or might possibly change the way you've watched them over the years, but these are certainly worth checking out especially if you are familiar with The Little Mermaid. After this I looked at the section called Treasures Untold, which is a "making of" look at this movie. We see how the idea came about, why it was created, and what the process was like bringing the film to the big screen. I actually learned a lot about this movie by watching this featurette, but I also felt it was accessible to children too.
There is also a short featurette on the animators titled Storm Warning, which anybody interested in animation will certainly want to check out. My only complaint about this is that I wish it was longer. Lastly, they have included the Disney short The Little Match Girl, a bevy of artwork galleries that show you how this movie evolved (in a visual sense) from idea to final concept, and finally there is a short featurette on Hans Christian Andersen titled The Story Behind the Story.
The Little Mermaid III Musical Sneak Peek
I don't know what I was expecting from this but I guess it was something more because they aren't kidding when they say "Sneak Peek." We are treated to a very tiny glimpse of what the second straight to video film in this franchise is going to be like. I guess you have to give Disney credit. They established a Mothership with the first Little Mermaid, and once it goes in the vault they keep it alive with sequels that are much less expensive to produce. I wish I could talk more about the sneak peek but there really isn't much to say.
Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1. This movie looked really good on DVD. Yes, I watched it on my tiny 9 inch TV (and in widescreen it probably loses some inches), but I was amazed at the quality of this DVDs picture. In fact, I wished that I had the version of this movie that was released in 1999 simply so I could compare them. I don't know if it's because the technology has improved, or perhaps they use different compression specs (it's probably a mixture of both), but this movie looked terrific in this two disc set.
English Dolby Digital 5.1. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0. Okay, so my TV only has one speaker, and I really am not that into the music from this movie, so my ambivalence makes the sound a little bit difficult for me to judge. While I was able to hear everything, I don't know that I got as much out of this film as I would have had I been totally engaged by it's soundtrack. I would say watch and listen to the movie and let me know what you think.
Ariel and most of the other main characters from The Little Mermaid are showcased on this front cover. They have really glossed it up so this movie looks very brand new. The back cover has more images and imagery from the movie, a description of what this film is about, a "Special Features" listing, and some technical specs. Both of the discs that make up this collection are stored in one plastic amaray case, and overall this set is not as bulky or full as one might expect it to be.
Aside from thinking that this is a really well put together set, I actually have a somewhat personal connection to this film. In 1990-1991, I was somewhat tricked into taking part in Student Government as the Junior Class Representative at Los Amigos High School. While I don't recall doing too much other than staying after school, helping design banners for various sports games (which I curiously never attended), and having a Zero Period class, one of the things they had me do was dress up as Sebastian the Crab and lip synch the song "Under the Sea" doing our homecoming football game. Now, I can't recall all the specifics, but The Little Mermaid was certainly a film I didn't see in the theater at that time, and musically, I sure wasn't listening to Samuel E. Wright singing the famous song. So after dancing around for the first 30 seconds of the number (I guess it didn't matter to anyone that I didn't know the words), I began to engage the audience by lifting up my shirt and showing them my belly. Pushing 230 lbs. at the time, you can be sure it elicited many hoots and howls.
Okay, with that out of my system, I can end this review by saying that you will probably want to pick up this new version of The Little Mermaid. It has a short shelf life and will then be going back into the Disney vault, and, it will probably come out in a new version of some sort upon it's next release, but for right now this version is as good as it gets.
The Little Mermaid was released November 17, 1989.