The Little Mermaid is a 1989 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Pictures. Based on the Danish fairy tale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, The Little Mermaid tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid princess who dreams of becoming human.
Ariel is the youngest daughters of King Tridon, King of the Sea. Ariel is not interested in living under sea her whole life, having taking peeks into the human world, she yearns to be part of that world which is forbidden by her father. Suddenly on a fateful day, Ariel saves a young man named Eric whom she falls in love with. Driven away by her father, Ariel resorts to get aid from the sea witch Ursula, who in turn grants Ariel her wish of becoming a human. Ariel is now living her dream, but at what cost?
Practically at the end of the 80s, The Little Mermaid made its theatrical debut in November of 1989. Since then, The Little Mermaid has enjoyed quite popularity and has become a Disney classic in every sense of the word. In many ways The Little Mermaid helped paved the way for the new era of animation that was to come in the 90s from Disney animation. With that being said revisiting this timeless classic once more after approximately 20 years definitely is like a trip down memory lane.
The Little Mermaid uses a very similar technique in the storytelling that has made other princess stories popular, but this film took a slightly different route by becoming more of a musical, which turned out to be an excellent choice. The movie is filled with excellent music and it fits the story quite well helping the story move along with ease. The story is quite simple, but it is filled with great characters. We meet Ariel who is courageous and defiant. Then we meet Eric, who in many ways is the clichéd handsome prince who comes to the rescue when the damsel is in distress. The theme is very similar to many Disney movies before this one. The characters start very strong, at least Ariel, and then they just seem to lose that same passion which they displayed earlier on. Of course, this doesn’t really ruin the overall storyline as it remains quite enjoyable all the way to the end.
For an old animated film, it sure does pop for Ultra HD Blu-ray 4k. Ariel’s hair looks lush in that red. The only thing that probably didn’t transfer as great (not physically) is that of much of the beginning of the movie is under water and at times they make you feel that with the distortion a bit and bubbles etc. It has nothing to do with the transfer, but just hand drawn animation vs. cgi of today. Adds a bit of age to the film to the point you know its dated a tad. Sounds bad saying that as such as that is not the impression I’m trying to give. The Little Mermaid is an absolute classic and many will say its a Disney Masterpiece and I can’t argue with that. So many vibrant colors throughout and they look marvelous in UHD Blu-ray.
The Little Mermaid Blu-ray features an MPEG4-AVC encode with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image is very consistent for the majority of the time and only really having some minor inconsistencies. For the most part the animation appears sharp and only lacks in a few scenes, especially the scene where the image is focused on Ursula after Ariel leaves her castle. Colors are very bright and vivid that they make the creatures and every surrounding look incredible. Even the background art looks excellent. The different techniques used to create the film actually translated properly to this release, so I did not detect any video anomalies like dirt or aliasing or let alone any banding.
The Little Mermaid comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray 4K in an Anniversary Edition that is also deemed as an Ultimate Collector’s Edition. *Raises brow*. Never the less we have the audio coming in with a Dolby Atmos track that gets immersive all the way down to the bottom of the sea. (or not.) A film that has incredibly memorable songs sounds all the more amazing and gleeful in Dolby Atmos.
The Little Mermaid arrives on Blu-ray with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. The track is actually quite good except that at times it just seems to lose focus. The dialogue is clean and crisp, but it does become a bit overwhelmed in various points of the film. Directionality is great, but it also slightly suffers from the design of the mix. The rears and surrounds often help create a great sound stage with the support they provide throughout the film, especially during the musical sequences. The LFE output is almost non-existent, it does provide some support but the channel not really utilize to its potential.
All the Special features are located on the blu-ray disc.
Alan Menken and the Leading Ladies
“What I want from you is … Your Voice”
Stories From Walt’s Office: Gadgets and Gizmos
Deleted Character: Harold the Merman
Under the Scene: The Art of Live Action Reference
Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland
Music Video – Part of Your World by Carly Rae Jepsen