Friday, March 26, 2010

Tirades of Truth: The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Beginning

Ok, so let's take a look at the sequel to The Little Mermaid 2 (LM2), The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Beginning. Now you can read about the first horrible sequel HERE. I don't want to bring it up too often, but unfortunately I think I will have to.

This movie takes place before the first movie and tries to explain a few things about Atlantica and Ariel's early years. It's kind of funny that in all 3 movies Ariel looks the same.

So the movie starts off and Ariel looks to be around 4-5 years old and we see Ariel's mom for the first time. The mer-people hang out on the surface, which if you watched the first movie is forbidden. Well, it doesn't take long into the flashback to see why King Triton doesn't like humans and thinks the surface is dangerous. Ariel's mom is killed by pirates. This is when I knew I was in for a good movie. The fact that they were willing to just put it out there in the first 5 minutes...amazing.

Actually, I knew I was in for a better movie when I saw the animation. As we all know the LM2 animation was just pitiful. Right away you can see a difference. Let's take a look at an actual screen shot from the LM2.

That's the actual just sucks. So here are some shots from Ariel's Beginning;
See a difference? I can. The animation in this movie is great for a non-theatrical release. The best movie I can compare it to is Tarzan. The way the computer generated backgrounds are used are identical in this release. Watch this clip from Tarzan, pay attention to the tree scenes and the fluid motion used.

Now watch this clip (around minute 7) for the swimming effect used with Ariel as she swims. It really is beautiful.

Some other things that I noticed was the songs were much better. The first song we hear is the villain's. Marina Del Ray performs a song worthy to match Ursula's Poor Unfortunate Souls. It's funny, catchy, and everything that LM2 couldn't do.

A little fun fact, when she is trying on the different outfits at the end of the song, one of the outfits is an early design for Ursula. Nice huh?

Ariel's main song can't compare with anything from the original, but it does hold it's own. I Remember is about her mom and Jodi Benson does an excellent job of creating a powerful song and beautiful atmosphere for the movie. The last few notes rank up there with Part of Your World.

Like Ariel, Sebastian gets a new song. Now it definitely doesn't come close to Kiss the Girl or Under the Sea, but like Marina Del Ray's it is catchy. And they do a wonderful job of "hamming" up Sebastian's personality within the song.

The other thing that I noticed right away and loved was the little tribute to the original movie. After Ariel saves Eric, she sings a little bit and the classic "rock scene" was born. Now in the sequel, Melody walks on the rock, but that was it for the tribute.

In this movie, they go for it all. After Sebastian is jailed (watch the movie it's worth it), Marina takes over his job. So she is singing around the ocean and where does she go? Except in this version, the water splashes down on her and a seagull (maybe Scuttle) comes near her and she yells at it. Any movie that throws that in is a winner.

Finally, Ariel's sisters get some air time. Now they were barely in the original, forgotten in the sequel, but are a pretty big part here. The writers did a nice job of giving each one their own little personalities and quirks. It must have been hard to balance 6 other mermaids, but the writers made it seem effortless.

Now it is not all roses. There are some things that bother me about this movie. Enough to ruin it? No, but they do stick out. Why does Flounder seem all tough in this movie, but by the time the original rolls around he is a "scared little guppy"? He does some things that are totally out of character for him, like the way he taunts the guard fish when he is being chased. No fear. Or in the end with the eels. No fear.

Marina Del Ray is a good character. She was a welcomed change of pace from Ursula and Morgana. No magic, just jealousy and greed. I would have liked it someway if the writers could have had her somehow be connected to Ursula. I mean in the original Ursula talks about her time in the palace. What happened? What did she do? If you are going to do a prequel, answer all the questions. You let us know why King Triton hates humans in the first 5 minutes, but you can't explain Ursula?

Finally, the guards. In the original and sequel, we had the mermen with helmets. In this one they are swordfish. Why? I know it's a little thing, but still was it necessary to make that switch? For me it opens another question, why did Triton dump the swordfish guards?

These are all minor complaints and pale in comparison to the movie as a whole. Superior artwork, kid friendly storyline, and catchy songs makes this movie a winner. In fact, I might go as far as to say to show this one first to your young child first. There isn't much in there to scare them and they will enjoy the bright colors and songs.

Now I just have to see Cinderella 3, which I have heard is the best dvd movie ever released.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you forgot to mention Benjamin. He was probably the best character in the whole movie.

Mr. W said...

yeah Benjamin was a great side kick. I felt bad that he was locked away at the end. He was funny though you are right.