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Little Mermaid II, The: Return to the Sea (Special Edition) Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 December 2008
ImageOnce again, Disney feels the need to re-release a "Little Mermaid" film.  In 2000, Disney released "The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea" as a direct-to-video sequel to 1989's "The Little Mermaid."  Disney is now re-releasing the sequel as a Special Edition.  Unfortunately, the movie doesn't fair so well.

First and foremost, the songs are not good at all.  They don't live up to the standard set by the original film.  The melodies are not catchy and lack pizzazz.  This was virtually Danny Troob's only attempt as a music composer.  It is in fact his last.  However, Troob has a longstanding relationship with Disney in their music department.  He has worked as an arranger and orchestrator for such legendary films as, "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Lion King," among many others.  Sadly, his work as a composer is sorely lacking.

The story also suffers from the "hit the writer upside the head for do that" syndrome.  Every turn in the story makes the viewer curse the creators for each storyline.  This is, of course only if you are paying enough attention to the film.

The only thing that saved this film for me was its ability to make me reminisce about the original Little Mermaid film.  The film contains all the original characters, like Sebastian, Scuttle, Ariel, Prince Eric and King Triton, even an aged Flounder makes an appearance.  And unlike, the recent "Ariel's Beginning," all the original voice actors reprise their roles (with the exception of Prince Eric). Jodi Benson always has a perfect Disney character signing voice.  Budd Hackett reprises Scuttle the absent-minded seagull.  Pat Carroll, who originally voiced Ursula the Sea Witch, returns as the voice of Morgana, Ursula's evil sister.  Tara Strong is welcomed addition to the cast as the voice of Melody, Ariel's daughter.

The film opens about one year after the first film.  Eric and Ariel were married and now have a daughter, Melody.  Humans and mer-people are now friends.  But when the couple takes Melody to sea to meet her grandfather, King Triton, Morgana attacks.  Ariel is barely able to save Melody from her clutches, and Morgana disappears.  Thinking of what is best for Melody, Ariel decrees that she should know nothing of the ocean and her heritage.  Yeah, I can't see that decision coming back to but them in the butt.  Reluctantly, King Triton agrees.

The film jumps 12 years into the future, in which an enormous wall has been built around the palace.  Still, Melody finds a way to secretly enter the ocean.  She is very much like her mother at her age.  Ironically, Ariel longed to be human, while Melody longs to live in the ocean.  One day she finds the pendant that Triton was to give to her when she was a baby, but dropped into the ocean instead.

Melody discovers her name on the pendant and sets out to discover what it all means.  Morgana tricks Melody into retrieving Triton's trident.  Meanwhile, the entire ocean is searching for Melody, however, is hiding out in the far north with Morgana.  Ultimately, Morgana gains the trident, just like Ursula before her.  But just like Ursula, she only retains it for a short while.  Melody comes to the rescue, and from then on the wall is torn down and the mer-people and humans are one once again.

The video quality of this DVD is exceptional at times and suffers at other times.  The colors are absolutely fantastic.  They are bold and vibrant. Much improved upon the original film.  The black levels are a little weak at times.  The edges are clear.  However, there was a bit of horizontal banding due to the colors used.  Also, the final credit sequence had a massively grain blue backdrop.  There are occasional moments in which compression artifacting becomes apparent in terms of blocky pixels.  Overall, a great video presentation in terms of quality available from a DVD.

The audio unfortunately lacked in power.  The dialogue is well recorded and presented.  However, there is virtually no surround presence.  Several times I expected waves crashing and water movement in the surround channels.  However, there were none to be found.  The LFE channel is hit or miss.  It is actually most present during the first closing credits song – a remake of "Part of Your World."  There is not much in terms of dynamic range.  A fair audio track, but nothing spectacular.

The DVD does not contain much in the way of bonus materials, as is expected with a direct-to-video sequel.  Foe the kids there are a bunch of games and activities.  Also, new to the special edition release is a deleted song, "Gonna Get My Wish."  Nothing too special there.  A "Merbabies" cartoon is also available, which also available on the previous edition.  The only new features on this disc are the deleted song and one trivia game.

The film is fairly predictable, but there is something about it that just makes you long for the original.  The video is superb (for DVD) and the audio quality is standard, but lacking some surround channel presence.  The video looked so good that I can only imagine what it would look like on Blu-ray.  I hope Disney releases the "Little Mermaid" trilogy on Blu-ray sometime soon.

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