The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/3D Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Disney - 1989
MPAA Rating: G
Feature running time: 83 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Written & Directed by: Ron Clements & John Musker
Music by: Alan Menken
Region Code: ABC
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 1, 2013
Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), is a free-spirited mermaid, who is off on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend, the adorable Flounder (voiced by Jason Marin), and the reggae-singing Caribbean crab Sebastian (voiced by Samuel E. Wright) at her side. But it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true—and save her father’s beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll).
Disney animation returned to its classic fairy tale roots in 1989 for the first time in three decades with its 28th full-length animated feature “The Little Mermaid.” Hans Christian Andersen’s enchanting fantasy of a beautiful young mermaid who risks life and “limbs” to be part of the human world when she meets the prince of her dreams provided the Disney creative team with one of its strongest stories in years and one of its greatest challenges ever.
Along with a colorful cast of animated characters, dazzling art direction and effects animation, the film features seven outstanding tunes, resulting from a unique collaboration with the celebrated songwriting team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (“Little Shop of Horrors,” “Beauty and the Beast”). The songs are integrally woven into the plot and add a memorable sense of theatricality that thematically enhances the film. Not since 1959, when the studio released “Sleeping Beauty,” had the Disney animators tackled a traditional story of this type. Other examples of animated classics derived from classic fairy tales include “Cinderella” (1950) and Disney’s very first animated feature, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937).
I love this film. I haven’t seen it in a long time but watching it again brought back wonderful memories of watching it countless times with my kids when they were little. The little Mermaid is an enamoring film with incredibly endearing characters and one of the most memorable music scores in the Disney canon. It helped define Disney animation for a new generation as the first film in the “Disney Animation Renaissance” (1989-1999) and revitalized animated features by captivating mature audiences while still delighting young viewers.
Walt Disney was truly a pioneer whose vision has brought us some of the most beloved characters (both animated and living) in American cinema. This is a classic that easily stands the test of time and like many of Disney’s animated films has touched and will continue to touch generations of viewers. My daughter was quite a fan and loved singing along to the musical numbers. I am sure that my children, like me, will share the experience of The Little Mermaid with their children when the time comes. What an immeasurable legacy for Disney, which is a class act with an impeccable track record for wonderful family oriented films.
This Diamond Edition release of The Little Mermaid is another example of Disney’s fervent commitment to the Blu-ray format as their high definition presentations have consistently yielded technically impressive results along with fan friendly supplemental material. Their willingness to digitally restore their films while carefully preserving the original source elements allows fans and newcomers alike to experience them looking and sounding better than ever. I am thrilled that this animated classic has finally arrived in high definition. I can’t think of a better way to experience it all over again or perhaps for the first time.
This film is appropriate for all ages.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
3D Presentation: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Depth (Onscreen):
- Dimension (Beyond the screen):
- Color reproduction:
The Little Mermaid 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 5.6 Mbps.
So far the majority of 3D converted films that have come to Blu-ray haven’t blown me away however there have been exceptions. I wouldn’t necessarily rank this conversion among the best but it’s very decent. The animated elements retain their eye pleasing splendor in terms of delineation, color reproduction and contrast. Detail is well preserved as the image retains its high level of clarity as objects within the frame are refined and sharp. Depth is appreciable as evidenced by the notable separation of objects/characters layered in the foreground/background. There isn’t a consistent array of pop out of the screen effects but there are instances where objects extended beyond the screen to create a noticeable sense of virtual depth. The hurricane sequence and Ursula’s demise are examples that come to mind. The added effects are subtle which seemed appropriate as I wasn’t drawn out of the film by odd looking proportions or hokey 3D for 3D’s sake. Comparing color, contrast, and resolution to the 2D presentation I saw no discernible difference. I didn’t notice any distracting signs of crosstalk/ghosting. For those hoping for all the 3D bells and whistles you won’t find them here but that shouldn’t be seen as a shortcoming as this is a rewarding and complimentary presentation.
Disney provides a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel surround mix which retains much of the feel of the original soundtrack while adding a bit of polish. This is a well balanced presentation that features high level detail in a resplendent blend of dialogue, sound effects, bass and music that maintains excellent prioritization that utilize the entire soundstage. The film’s superb music sounds simply marvelous as the variety of musical numbers take center stage to create an involving surround experience. This isn’t a dynamically charged mix but bass response is appropriate and noticeably palpable in support of the soundtrack’s elements. The audio is crystal clear, free of the edginess and never shows its age which says something for the care that went into the encoding.
2D Video Quality:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Little Mermaid comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps.
This film has undergone a restorative process and the results are impressive. Colors shine brilliantly with pleasing saturation and striking blues that look absolutely beautiful. The original film elements don’t have the highly polished gloss of today’s digitally enhanced animated films which is to be expected but this presentation isn’t far behind. On several occasions I found myself marveling at just how good this 24 year old animated feature looks. Fidelity is intact and images have excellent visual depth with deep, rich, color fidelity and stable contrast that enhances dimension. I can fully appreciate the attention to detail that went into design of each of the animated characters. Contrast and brightness is stable and strikes a wonderful balance that highlights the multi-layered grays and delineated chromatic elements within the video. Blacks have excellent dynamic range while falling shy of the ink like levels of the best discs available in high definition. Whites sparkle and appear crisp, bright and punchy. As fans I don’t think that we could ask for this film to look any better than this.
- The Little Mermaid 3D Blu-ray
- The Little Mermaid 2D Blu-ray (plus the following bonus features):
- (HD) “Part of your world” music video performed by Carly Rae Jepsen
- (HD) @Disney Animation – A look behind the curtain at Disney Animation Studios – 10 minutes
- (HD) Deleted character: Harold the Merman – 2 minutes
- (HD) Under the scene: The art of Live-Action Reference – A discussion with director’s Ron Clements and John Musker as they look back at The Little Mermaid and their revival of the art of live-action reference used in the film (including behind the scenes footage) – 13 minutes
- (HD) Part of her world: Jodi Benson’s voyage to New Fantasyland – 4 minutes
- (HD) Howard’s lecture – 16 minute featurette on the Howard Ashman and his contribution not only to The Little Mermaid but other Disney classic (includes previously unreleased archival video)
- Disney Intermission (Crab-E-Oke Sing-Along) – Featuring Sebastian the Crab in his popular songs numbers from the film which are activated when the film is put in pause mode
- Classic DVD Bonus Features including – The making of The Little Mermaid, special effects, deleted scenes, song selections, audio commentary with Ron Clements, John Musker, and Alan Menken, “Kiss the girl” music video (by Ashley Tisdale) and more..
- Bonus DVD
- Digital Copy
For Disney fans The Little Mermaid is among the most anticipated Blu-ray Disc releases to date. It is a marvelous family film that has an endearing charm and entertaining story that people of all ages can appreciate. I was excited to learn that its high definition debut would include 3D as well as 2D versions. Going into this review of its 3D converted video I kept my expectations in check but am happy to report that the experience enhanced my enjoyment of the film. In addition its 2D high definition audio/video, fall in line with the type of rewarding and technically proficient Blu-ray offerings we have come to expect from Disney. This multi-disc Diamond Edition release includes new bonus supplements as well as previously released extras. The new features are worth exploring and contain interactive content along with new insights from the filmmakers. If you have a 3D capable setup this release is worth considering. If not the standard 2D Blu-ray version is equally worthwhile. Either way The Little Mermaid on Blu-ray is a no brainer.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package