Disney is going to make sequels and there is nothing we can do about it. Sometimes the sequels hit theatres and have some sort of significance to them so that they are enjoyable and mean something. But Disney has even gone far enough to say that there are two teams of animators behind the scenes which consist of an A-team and a B-team. The former works on the major releases and puts their best foot forward to keep the company rolling along. The latter ends up working on the direct-to-video releases and you can tell those aren’t always up to par with the big named films. With those, we also end up getting storylines like Ursula’s sister Morgana going after Ariel’s daughter Melody.
Ariel is no longer a mermaid and now has a daughter named Melody with her husband Prince Eric. At what can only be assumed to be her christening; her grandfather, King Triton gives her a locket so that she can always remember she’s a part of the sea. It is at that time that Ursula’s sister Morgana shows up and attempts to kidnap Melody. A little quick work from Ariel and Triton foil her plans as Morgana vows to return and grab a hold of King Triton’s trident. It is because of Morgana’s evil persistence that Ariel and Eric realize it is safer for Melody to stay out of the sea and know nothing of the merfolk or even her grandfather until she is old enough to take care of herself. But a little curiosity as she grows older and the help of a magic locket make it impossible for her dreams of the sea to fade and also for Morgana to get her tentacles on Ariel’s daughter and the trident once and for all.
Well to me, The Little Mermaid II: Return To The Sea comes across as trying to be exactly what The Little Mermaid was, but with Ariel’s daughter instead of the mermaid princess herself. The similarities are simply uncanny and maybe it was intended that way, but it’s just too much. Trying to be exactly what the first film ended up being just wouldn’t work because it’s already been done and The Little Mermaid had a feel good magic about it that makes it a Disney classic. Here are some of the plot points that are so eerily similar:
~ Ursula wanted control of Ariel so that she could get a hold of the trident’s power. Morgana wants to control Melody so that she can get a hold of the trident’s power.
~ Ariel was to be kept away from land because she dreamed so much of a part of their world. Melody is being kept away from the sea because she wants to be a mermaid more then anything and live in Atlantica. And both girls were watched over by Sebastian the crab.
~ Ariel is made into a human by Ursula. Melody is made into a mermaid by Morgana.
These types of things continue on and on because it is essentially the exact same film as the first one with a few small changes so that it can seem different. It’s hard to enjoy the film because of not only that fact, but also because it just isn’t all that good. Not a single one of the songs is enjoyable or even sing-a-long worthy. The changes to a couple voices are bothersome and characters like Tip and Dash just don’t cut it like Flounder and Scuttle did. It’s just missing the Disney magic that not only The Little Mermaid has, but most other animated classics have and it will take away the fun for most adults, but probably not the little ones.
The film is shown in 1.66:1 Widescreen format and while the colors are bright for the most part; the film comes off kind of dull and a bit shaky at times. It’s not like it is unwatchable and adults will notice it more then the kids but it still is a problem.
The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and it does better then the video quality, but most Disney films always sound spectacular. The music and songs surround the room making for a great viewing experience.
Deleted Song – Morgana sings a song I can only guess is entitled “Wish Tonight” since that is what she says about fifty times in it. Ok, for the villain in the film; this song has nowhere near the effect that “Poor Unfortunate Soul” had for Ursula in The Little Mermaid. This song is playful and snazzy and also sucks so I’m glad they cut it.
Underwater Mer-venture Challenge Game – Earn your fins by learning how to swim, making friends, and making beautiful music. That’s the instructions given at the beginning, but then you play a guessing game? Weird, but alright. Very kiddie type game and that’s about it.
The Little Mermaid II Trivia Game – Exactly that; a trivia game.
The Little Mermaid II DVD Storybook – You can choose to read the story yourself on screen or have it read to you as scenes from the film are shown. And get this; the whole story is told in ten minutes without missing a beat. How’s that for shortening your film?
“What Am I?” Game – Clues are read to you and you decide what they are describing. Again, all for the kids.
Bonus Short: Merbabies – Awesome, a Silly Symphony cartoon. This is a cute short which simply shows Merbabies swimming around, doing their stuff, and having some fun.
Trailers – Pinocchio 70th Anniversary Edition, The Princess And Te Frog, Space Buddies, Oliver & Company 20th Anniversary Edition, and The Cheetah Girls: One World
If you’re going to watch Return To The Sea hoping that it delivers all the magic, excitement, and awesomeness that came with The Little Mermaid, then I advise you to forget it. Kids will probably eat this film up especially if they loved the first one, because all their favorite characters are there and they won’t realize the voices aren’t the same. They also won’t realize that it just feels nothing like The Little Mermaid did and delivers none of the feel good emotions that its predecessor did. As for the special features; they are there for the kids only and not aimed at adults whatsoever. The games are simple, the deleted song is short, and while the Silly Symphony short is good, it’s not worth buying the DVD just for that. If you’re someone who loves collecting every Disney DVD no matter what then grab it. If you’re hoping for a masterpiece then nope, no way, now how. The seaweed is always greener…in the first film and not the cheap sequel.
Walt Disney Studios presents The Little Mermaid II: Return To The Sea Special Edition. Directed by: Jim Kammerud & Brian Smith. Starring (voices): Jodi Benson, Samuel E. Wright, Kenneth Mars, Pat Carroll, Buddy Hackett, Frank Welker. Written by: Elizabeth Anderson & Temple Mathews. Running time: 75 minutes. Rating: G. Released on DVD: December 16, 2008. Available at Amazon.com