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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jim Kammerud, Brian Smith
Cast:
Christopher Daniel Barnes, Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, Tara Charendoff, Buddy Hackett, Kenneth Mars, Samuel E. Wright
Writing Credits:
Elizabeth Anderson, Temple Mathews, Elise D'Haene (additional screenplay material), Eddie Guzelian (additional screenplay material)

Tagline:
Return to the sea September 19th.

Synopsis:
Disney's amazing undersea classic lives on in an all-new story bursting with the same captivating music style, unforgettably colorful characters and brilliant animation that made the original film an Academy Award®-winning favorite.

After rejoicing over the birth of their daughter Melody, Ariel and Eric must face a new threat from Ursula s revengeful sibling Morgana, a threat that forces them to hide Melody's true mermaid heritage. Melody, a young princess curious about her roots, ultimately ventures into the sea against her parents wishes. There she meets new friends and in her dream to become a mermaid becomes a pawn in Morgana's plot to gain control of the Seven Seas. Ariel must reunite with her childhood friends Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle to rescue her daughter and restore harmony to her family. An all-star cast returns, including Jodi Benson (Ariel) and Samuel E. Wright (Sebastian) for a remarkable adventure teeming with surprises, a new deleted song and all-new game.

MPAA:
Rated G

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.66:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English

Runtime: 75 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 12/16/2008

Bonus:
• “The Little Mermaid II Underwater Mer-Venture Challenge Game”
• “What Am I?” Sea Creature Game
• Trivia Game
• Deleted Song
• Read-Along Storybook
• Classic “Merbabies” Short


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Little Mermaid II: Return To The Sea - Special Edition (2000)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 8, 2009)

Time for some more Disney "direct to video" (DTV) fun. Actually, I suppose "fun" should be used lightly, since most of their DTV movies haven't offered a whole lot of excitement or pleasure. A few are moderately interesting, but the most have been mild to extreme duds.

Add to that pile another sacrifice: 2000’s The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. I get the feeling the story conferences at Disney's TV animation department - the crew who usually create the DTV pictures - go like this: "Let's take what happened in the first movie - and reverse it!"

For other examples of this notion in action, look at Pocahontas and its DTV sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. In the original, English explorers came to America and learned about Indians. In the sequel, some Indians - Pokey herself and a guardian - go to Britain to learn about the English. How creative!

Sea shows similar imagination. 1989's The Little Mermaid told of Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), a fishy babe who wanted to know more about the world of humans. In the sequel, her daughter Melody (Tara Charendoff) is a legged pre-teen who loves the ocean and wants to spend more time under the sea. For this we waited 11 years?

In reality, Sea is more "remake" than "sequel". Other than the reverse water-land direction, the plots are quite similar. We meet another sea witch. This one's named Morgana, and she's the sister of the first film's Ursula. Pat Carroll voiced Ursula, and by some incredible coincidence, she also provides the pipes for Morgana. The new character is less self-assured than the old one, but otherwise they're virtually the same personality.

Quite a lot of the rest of the original cast returns as well. There's Samuel Wright as Sebastian, Kenneth Mars as Triton, Buddy Hackett as Scuttle, Rene Auberjonois as Louis, and Edie McClurg as Carlotta. Of the first film's main voices, only Jason Marin (Flounder) and Christopher Daniel Barnes (Prince Eric) go AWOL. Marin certainly couldn't repeat since one would hope his voice changed over the 11 years between flicks, but I have no idea why Barnes doesn't reappear. In any case, one nice thing about Disney DTV projects is that they do seem to wrangle as many original participants as possible, which adds credibility to these films.

One bad thing about the DTV movies, however, is the fact that they're universally produced on the cheap by Disney's television animation unit. Sometimes this results in simply poor film work, as was the case with Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. Normally, however, we just find acceptable but lackluster animation.

That's definitely the case with Sea. Honestly, it's one of the prettier DTV programs, as it offers some lovely colors and more lively-than-usual movement, but it still doesn't remotely compare with the standards we'd expect from a theatrical offering. The film maintains too much of a stiff attitude and it lacks the "believability" I desire.

Ultimately, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is just another bland but mildly-watchable Disney home video offering. As with others from this division, I didn't mind the time I spent with it, but since I want more from Disney animation, that made the result fairly uninteresting. Just "okay" doesn't cut it for their work, but "decent" is as good as this uninspired film gets.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, the film looked quite good, with only a few minor distractions.

Sharpness usually seemed crisp and well-detailed. Some light edge enhancement made wide shots a tad iffy, but those instances remained minor. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and the print was devoid of flaws; I saw no signs of grain, scratches, speckles, grit or other defects.

Colors looked vibrant and rich. Throughout the film, the hues were lovely, as they presented lush tones. Black levels were terrifically deep and dense, and shadow detail seemed appropriately opaque without any excessive heaviness. Only the mild softness/edge enhancement made this a “B+” presentation.

I thought Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Little Mermaid II worked fine. The soundfield favored the forward speakers but it seemed well-balanced nonetheless. The front channels displayed a nicely broad mix that featured an appropriate level of activity between those speakers. The surrounds also contributed some useful ambiance to the presentation, as they tossed in nice usage of music and some effects. The soundtrack enveloped me in a satisfying manner and it created a dimensional feel.

Audio quality also seemed solid. Dialogue was clear and distinct, with positive intelligibility and no signs of dullness or edginess. Effects were accurate and clean. The music seemed bright and lively, and it often offered decent bass. The mix sounded good, and the overall presentation was perfectly fine.

How did the picture and sound of this 2008 “Special Edition” compare to those of the original 2000 DVD? Unfortunately, I was unable to directly compare the two. I no longer own the original disc, and I couldn’t find a copy to rent.

I’d guess that the new disc provides similar audio and superior visuals. The old one lacked anamorphic enhancement, so it seems likely the 2008 edition looked notably better, especially on 16X9 TVs. I can’t change my old review without direct observation, but I’d be absolutely shocked if the 2000 disc provided visuals better or as good as this new release.

The Sea DVD incorporated a mix of old and new supplements. For the first exclusive component, we find a deleted song. “Gonna Get My Wish” lasts one minute, 54 seconds and shows Morgana as she gloats about her apparent upcoming victory. Like the rest of Sea, it’s bland and forgettable.

Next we find a classic short called Merbabies. This is an eight-minute and 35-second short from the "Silly Symphony" line. The cartoon is a bit of a dud, as it’s obscenely cutesy, but it's still a cool addition and a nice historical artifact.

Everything else appears under “Games and Activities”. A new addition shows up here: The Little Mermaid II Underwater Mer-Venture Challenge Game. This requires you to “master challenges” in three areas. All three are exceptionally easy. Don’t expect much of a reward for successful completion.

The rest of the components repeat from the original DVD. We also find some other Disney DVD staples. There's the traditional 16-question trivia game that should be easy for anyone who's seen the film, and we get a third contest as well: Who Am I? offers a few details about various sea critters and requires you to choose one of three options as to the beast's identity. If correct, you're rewarded with some brief but interesting educational material about the species.

Finally, the disc presents the standard DVD Storybook. This retells the tale of Sea and it allows you to either read the story on your own or have it read to you by a female narrator. In a nice touch, Jodi Benson provides the narration.

As the DVD starts, we encounter a mix of ads. We find trailers for Pinocchio, The Princess and the Frog, SpaceBuddies, Oliver And Company, The Cheetah Girls: One World and Disney Movie Rewards. These also appear in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Beverly Hills Chihuahua, The Secret of the Magic Gourd, TinkerBell and the Lost Treasure, Tigger and Pooh and a Musical Too, Think Fast, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Schoolhouse Rock: Earth.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea offers another mildly entertaining but fairly limp direct-to-video movie from Disney. The story provides a virtual remake of the original but lacks the 1989 film's charm or quality; it's watchable but not anything special. The DVD presents good picture and sound plus a few minor extras. Like most of the Disney "DTV" programs, this one is best left to the die-hard fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8 Stars Number of Votes: 10
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11:
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