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101 Dalmatians

The Little Mermaid
A Walt Disney Home Video Release
1989, 83 Minutes, Color, Rated G

Featuring The Voices Of:  Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Kenneth Mars, Rene Auberjonois, Samuel E. Wright, Pat Carroll, Buddy Hackett, Nancy Cartwright, Jason Marin
List Price:  $39.99 USD, released 12/07/99
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Aspect Ratio:  1.66:1 Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, French 2.0 Surround, Spanish 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Interactive Menus, Scene Selection

Arial, the mischievous teenage mermaid, is fascinated with all of the human objects she finds and collects from the sea bottom. Although her father King Triton has ordered her to stay away from the surface, during a raging storm she emerges to save the life of the prince of her dreams who was sailing home. Determined to become human, Arial strikes a bargain with the horrible sea witch Ursula: her voice in exchange for three days as a human to win the prince’s love. Prince Eric awakened to only a memory of her beautiful voice, so Arial will have a difficult time winning him over. Ursula, however, will stop at nothing to ensure that Arial fails. The Little Mermaid is on my top-ten list of "must have" Disney films, so it’s very nice to finally view this on DVD.

Try to catch the misplaced frame during the opening of the bubble curtain in chapter 3, or find the few unrefined early attempts at computer-generated backgrounds.

Unlike the last VHS release and many of the other recently released animated discs from Disney, The Little Mermaid does not feature a THX-certified transfer. This is mostly due to the fact that the VHS release was full-screen, while this disc features the proper 1.66:1 widescreen ratio. The print used is quite clean, but I was able to detect a fair amount of film grain. Black levels are good, as is overall sharpness and clarity. Colors were not as vibrant as I would have expected, but none the less very smooth and quite accurate. The dual-layered disc contains 5 gigabytes of data divided into 27 chapters. The layer change occurs at 0:47.53 into the film, at 2.31 in chapter 17. Also on the disc are English subtitles.

Audio is presented in a glorious Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix. The discrete rear effects channels are used numerous times and help to create a large soundstage. Fidelity during the audio sequences is fabulous – it’s nice to finally be able to understand all of the words to "Under the Sea". All is not perfect though: a large percentage of energetic dialogue tracks suffered from clipping, while some over-amplified lines had audible background hiss. Also included on the disc are French and Spanish 2.0 surround soundtracks.

Essentially there are no special features on this disc: all you get is the film. I would have expected something! Though it is shown beautifully, Disney’s high list price of $40 USD makes it an expensive luxury.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on December 9, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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