Sunday, September 29, 2013

Blu-Ray Review: The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition!

The Little Mermaid was the start of the next Golden Age of Animation at The Walt Disney Studios. The years prior saw a glimmer of hope but they couldn't get it just right. But the return of the Disney animated musical made a huge splash! The now classic music from Howard Ashman and Alan Menken were a return to the great songwriting teams of Disney past.

In the rare case that you haven't seen this movie, then here is a quick recap. The movie follows a teenage mermaid named Ariel who is completely fascinated by the surface world. So much so that she even collects their artifacts that sink to the bottom of the sea. Her father, King Triton, forbids her to have anything to do with the surface world but Ariel is too much of a free-spirit and continues to watch those above the sea. Ariel spots a young Prince and falls in love. She makes a deal with the sea-witch Ursula to trade her voice in order to become human. Will the Prince fall in love with Ariel? Will she ever become a mermaid again? Watch this now classic animated film to see what happens next.

Video Quality
After the last several Disney blu-ray releases I was afraid that I was in for more of the same low quality restoration. Thankfully because this is a Diamond Edition film, the restoration is pristine! Vibrant colors and sharp detail make this film shine! The movie has never looked better!

Audio Quality
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround Track is solid! Voices are crystal clear and the songs and music are enveloping, creating a rich sound environment! The Little Mermaid has never sounded better! 

The Little Mermaid: New HD Bonus Features
  • @DisneyAnimation (HD, 11 minutes): A solid feature that you rarely see on a Disney blu-ray release anymore. It showcases both veteran and new animators in their journey to the studios. I feel that there is more footage that may mean a documentary in the future. I could have watched hours of this footage.
  • Under the Scene (HD, 13 minutes): Another great feature showcasing how real footage was used to overcome complex shots and other challenges with the animation.
  • Howard's Lecture (HD, 16 minutes): Watch this amazing lunchtime lecture by Disney Legend, the late Howard Ashman, a writer and lyricist for Disney and was one of the creative people behind the idea of The Little Mermaid being made as a musical. 
  • Deleted Character: Harold the Merman (HD, 2 minutes): Directors John Musker and Clements introduce a character who din't make it into the final version of the film, Harold the Merman.
  • Part of Her World (HD, 5 minutes): Ariel voice actress, Jodi Benson heads to Walt Disney World to the opening of Disney's Animation Resort and takes her children to Ariel's Grotto in New Fantasyland.
  • Crab-E-Oke Sing Along (HD, 16 minutes): Sing along with "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Poor Unfortunate Souls," "Les Poissons" and "Kiss the Girl," with these dynamic karaoke shorts.
  • Music Video (HD, 4 minutes): Carly Rae Jepsen performs "Part of Your World."

The Little Mermaid: Classic DVD Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary (HD): Directors/writers Ron Clements and John Musker are joined by composer Alan Menken deliver a lively commentary filled with great stories of the film's history, production, technical discussion about the animation, and voice casting.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 26 minutes): A total of seven 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).
  • Backstage Disney (HD/SD): Nine extras can be found here:

    • The Little Match Girl (HD, 7 minutes):One of my favorite shorts that was going to be part of a new Fantasia film after Fantasia 2000.
    • The Making of The Little Mermaid (SD, 46 minutes): An excellent 6-part production documentary.
    • The Story Behind the Story" (SD, 11 minutes): A feature on Hans Christian Anderson and his original story.
    • Storm Warning: Special Effects Unit (SD, 9 minutes): Creating the storm at sea.
    • Under the Sea Early Presentation Reel (SD, 3 minutes): Take a look at the conceptual art set to music.
    • John & Ron Make Caricatures of Each Other (SD, 1 minute): Watch Ron and John draw one another.
    • Animators Comment on their Characters (SD, 2 minutes): Brief interview clips.
    • The Little Mermaid Handshake (SD, 1 minute): The directors demonstrate a secret handshake.
    • Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 minutes)
  • Music & More (HD/SD, 14 minutes): Four songs with on-screen lyrics (HD) -- "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," "Les Poissons" and "Kiss the Girl" -- as well as a "Kiss the Girl" (SD) music video with Ashley Tisdale.
  • Disneypedia: Life Under the Sea (HD, 8 minutes): A kid-friendly oceanic wildlife feature.
  • Behind the Ride that Almost Was (HD, 6 minutes): Abandoned plans for a Little Mermaid attraction with commentary by Disney Legend and Imagineer Tony Baxter. This would have been a spectacular attraction!
  • Under the Sea Adventure (SD, 4 minutes): A computer rendered version of what the attraction would have been like. Another one of those great ideas that never happened!
Final Thoughts

This is the blu-ray release that I have come to expect from Disney! A beautiful high definition transfer with an equally high quality audio transfer and full of extras that showcase what a Disney blu-ray release should be!

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