Wednesday, August 23, 2023

4K Digital Review: The Little Mermaid (2023)


In 1989, the animated film, The Little Mermaid, began the Disney Renaissance. Disney returned to its storytelling roots and used Broadway-style music to propel the story forward. Now in 2023, Disney has brought the film into live-action. Is it one of the best remakes to date? Let's take a look.

The Little Mermaid centers around a young and spirited mermaid named Ariel (Halle Bailey) who is fascinated by the human world and falls for a young prince that she saves from a shipwreck. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel disobeys her father King Triton's (Javier Bardem) orders and makes a deal with sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to allow Ariel to walk on land for three days in exchange for her voice. Ariel must share true-loves kiss with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) within those three days if she wants to remain a human or transform back into a mermaid and belong to Ursula forever.

Melissa and Javier are fantastic in their roles. Melissa clearly had a great time being Ursula. Jonah did a great job in the expanded role of Prince Eric. He is a fully realized character with dreams and goals and gets his own song too. His chemistry with Halle is a strong point here as well. But the star here is Halle. Her performance is every bit of worthy of being a Disney Princess. Her vocals and emotional range make you truly understand what Ariel is going through.


The 4K HDR Dolby Vision video is prestine. There are times the CG looks too CG but the underwater scenes are magical. The details are all sharp and clean. The skin tones, hair, clothing material details, rockwork, shipwreck details and more are all beautiful and bring both land and sea to life. Another excellent transfer by Disney. 


The 5.1 Dolby Atmos soundtrack is wonderful though the audio levels are very much on the quieter end of the scale. Dialogue is front and center while environmental effects fill the surround channels. The score and the songs really shine and surround you. 

Bonus Features*

  • Sing Along Version  Sing along with your favorite songs while watching the movie with on-screen lyrics.
  • Hotter Under The Water – Discover how director Rob Marshall and his team brought the story of The Little Mermaid to life with this documentary in five chapters:
    • A Tale Of The Bottomless Blue - Join Rob Marshall on the set of one of the most ambitious and challenging films he's ever directed.
    • I Know Something’s Starting Right Now - Join cast members Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King and more and learn how they were cast in the film and what it was like to bring director Rob Marshall's vision to life.
    • Down Where It’s Wetter - Dip your toes into the virtual ocean and learn about how the breathtaking underwater world was created with visual effects, imagination and a lot of talented artists.
    • Explore That Shore Up Above - From Prince Eric’s castle to the beach, explore the above-the-sea locations and the elaborate production design behind them.
    • Do What The Music Say - Discover how legendary composer Alan Menken teamed up with Lin- Manuel Miranda to write new songs to accompany the original classics


  • Song Breakdowns
    • Wild Unchartered Waters - Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King, gets his own song, written by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Go behind the song, from the writing to the recording, to the filming on a practical ship.
    • Under the Sea - Get a first-hand look at how professional dancers helped bring director Rob Marshall's vision to life as they stood in for the various animated sea creatures that sing and dance in this showstopping number.
    • Kiss The Girl - Float along and get a frog's-eye view of the beautiful set built to film the live-action version of this classic song.
    • Poor Unfortunate Souls - Join Melissa McCarthy (Ursula) as she takes us on the journey of making her character's signature song.

  • Featurettes
    • The Scuttlebutt On Sidekicks – Dive in and meet Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle, who not only have their own song, "The Scuttlebutt," but also fresh looks as they work hard to make sure Ariel and Eric kiss before Ursula's deadline.
    • Passing The Dinglehopper – Ariel met Ariel when Halle Bailey worked with Jodi Benson — the voice of Ariel in the original animated movie — who appears in a clever cameo in the live-action film..
    • Bloopers - Laugh along with the cast as they have the time of their lives making The Little Mermaid.

The Little Mermaid retains the heart and soul of the animated original. The video and audio are wonderful to make you feel as if you are part of this world. The bonus features are also wonderful and help to understand this take on the animated film. A definite addition to your collection. The digital version is available now. The 4K UHD, Blu-Ray and DVD version will be available on September 19th.

*This movie was provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment for the sole purpose of review. The review is entirely my opinion.*

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