Review: “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” and “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea”

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We hadn’t watched “The Little Mermaid” in quite some time, but recently had the opportunity to see it in the theater for “The Little Mermaid: Second Screen Live” special showing. “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” and “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” are available for the first time together on Blu-ray beginning on November 19, 2013, and because we had enjoyed the second screen live version so much, it was a great time to do a review of the upcoming release.

We’ll start with the prequel, “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning.” The story begins with Ariel as a very young girl (or perhaps mer-girl?) in a happy family with her sisters, her father, King Triton and mother, Athena. As you’ve likely seen the later movie, it won’t come as a huge surprise that Athena dies and the King does not takes the loss easily. Because he is is struggling so greatly with the sadness of his wife’s death, he outlaws music throughout the kingdom. Athena had loved music, and because it reminds him of her, he believes that if he can remove it, he can also remove the pain that comes along with it.

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Some time passes and music remains to be prohibited. The lack of music seems to go hand-in-hand with a general lack of happiness in the kingdom. Ariel has six sisters who are exactly one year apart and in the order from oldest to youngest are: Attina, Aquata, Andrina, Adella, Arista and Alana with Ariel being the youngest. Their lives seem particularly affected by the lack of music and their daily lives leave them feeling underwhelmed. It was at this time that the villain for the film is introduced, Marina Del Ray (voiced by Sally Fields) who is appointed as the governess for all of the sisters. She has hopes that she can remove Sebastian from his post as the king’s advisor and take his place.

Ariel is introduced to Flounder and it seems that not everyone is following the no-music rules that have been handed down by the King. It doesn’t take long for her to find the Catfish Club, a sort of underground music scene. Marina takes advantage of their musical transgressions which the King obviously objects to with his ban of all music. The movie plays out the way you will probably guess, but I don’t want to give everything away.

The animation, while more computer generated, looks very good and similar in style to the original hit movie. The script is not bad, but like all prequels, there are a few things that don’t usually flow through to later movies. For instance, Marina is never mentioned in the original “Little Mermaid” film, but this is a very small problem and you can’t really blame the writers (Robert Reece and Evan Spiliotopoulos) for it because their hands are pretty well tied. Likewise, the soundtrack from the movie is very good having been penned by Broadway veteran Jeanine Tesori. The dance numbers that are associated with the music are probably the best scenes in the movie. Peggy Homes was a first-time director when she did this film and had a number of movie credits to her name for choreography, so it was really a big surprise that the dance numbers were so pleasing.

The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” takes place some time after the original movie. It has to be at least 13 years after it as the story revolves around Melody (Ariel’s daughter) and her 12th birthday. Melody (voiced by Tara Strong) doesn’t know the story of her mom’s old mermaid life, and Prince Eric (Rob Paulsen) and Ariel (Jodi Benson) vow to keep it that way.  Melody loves to swim, but Ursula’s sister Morgana (Pat Caroll who also voiced Ursula) had tried to enact revenge by kidnapping Melody years ago, so Eric and Ariel decided to stay away from the sea by building a gigantic fortress around their home.

I’m sure you can see where this is going — Melody soon goes swimming in the location where she shouldn’t, and once she is swimming in the sea, Morgana turns Melody into a Mermaid. There, she is befriended by Tip (a penguin voiced by Max Casella) and Dash (a walrus voiced by Stephen Furst). You can probably think of them as the more adventurous undersea versions of “The Lion King’s” Timon and Pumbaa, and they are certainly one of the highlights of the sequel. The story is what you would expect for a direct to DVD release, and it is very fast paced. It’s something that will definitely keep the little ones interested as there is very little time to take a breath. The quality of the animation and music are individually good, but not as well done as the prequel and certainly not on par with the original, although that would be something you could realistically expect.

Bonus Features:

THE LITTLE MERMAID II: RETURN TO THE SEA (Blu-ray & DVD) 

  • “The Little Mermaid II” Storybook
  • Deleted Song “Gonna Get My Wish”
  • Classic Animated Short “Merbabies”

THE LITTLE MERMAID: ARIEL’S BEGINNING

  • Splashdance:  A Dancer’s Adventures Under The Sea
  • Deleted Scenes with intros by Director Peggy Holmes
  • Music & More
  • Sing Along With The Movie
  • The Little Mermaid: Under the Sea and Behind the Scenes on Broadway
  • Mermaid Discovery Vanity Game

This new Blu-ray is an excellent value with both “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” and “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” in one package.

[Rating:4/5]

Amy Crooks

Hi!! I'm Amy, and I am the owner and writer of this site. I'm a stay-at-home mom that enjoys cooking, crafting and cheering on my favorite hockey, football, baseball and basketball teams! I have an amazing husband and son (Clayton III does a little writing for the site too)!! :)

2 thoughts on “Review: “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning” and “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea”

  • November 13, 2013 at 1:15 am
    Permalink

    That’s great to hear.. I must collect the Blu-ray one! 🙂

    Reply

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