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The Blue EM2


Happy to be here at last.

More Blog Posts474

  • Saturday
    On this day...

    Today, 5 years ago, the 3rd Equestria Girls film, Friendship Games, was broadcast on Discovery Family (and opened in cinemas in the UK). Whilst not as good as Rainbow Rocks in my opinion, it is still a solid entry in a solid franchise.

    And, of course, Jimmy and I celebrate it the only way we know how. Check out our efforts below!

    Read More

    0 comments · 25 views
  • 2 weeks
    Some advice for CoVID

    Originally, this blog was going to be a rant about how young people in Britain seem to thing social distancing doesn't apply to them. However, I came across a video that gets my point across perfectly;

    In all seriousness, follow the rules in your area. It'll save lives.

    4 comments · 52 views
  • 3 weeks
    September is here!

    As to where I've been...

    I'm in the Lake District of England. Lovely place too.

    Sorry for being out of contact, but hopefully next week I can be online more.

    8 comments · 52 views
  • 7 weeks
    Some technical help please!

    I'm trying to upload an image as cover art for an upcoming story, namely this;

    Read More

    10 comments · 109 views
Jul
19th
2020

Film Review: The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea · 8:40am July 19th

Hello again, and welcome to another review!

Only a few hours (and a few days ago, on top of that) ago, a conversation I had with my friend Jimmy over Disney animated media reminded me of something I hadn't taken a look at in a long time. Therefore, for today's review, I will be reviewing my first Disney sequel; The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.

Now, I would like to point out that this film dates from the dark days when anything and everything was receiving sequels largely assembled for the home video market (remember these things?).

As a result, details about development, release and production are somewhat hard to come by. However, as with most of the Disney sequels of the 1990s and 2000s, it was released direct to video in September 2000, to largely negative reviews. But does it deserve to be remembered as 'carelessly stupid', to quote Antagony and Ecstacy?

I will admit, reviewing this with a critical eye was extremely tough for me as I have very fond memories of both Little Mermaid films from when I was a kid. However, I feel I was able to set my emotions aside to look at the film in a sufficiently neutral eye.

It's a lot better than the other sequels, I'll give it that. But it is by no means perfect; far from it, in fact.

So, without any further ado, let's go over my four points; as today's entry is a musical, there's an extra one for music.

STORY

The plot takes place after the events of the original Little Mermaid ended; Ariel and Eric now have a daughter, Melody. However, after her christening was disrupted by Morgana, 'Ursula's Crazy Sister' (yes, really), and Triton and his army were unable to hunt her down, Ariel decided to instead prevent Melody from having any contact with the sea via building a wall to separate the palace from the sea, separating the humans from the merpeople. Just one slight problem. For several years Melody keeps sneaking out to sea, and after discovering the truth of her identity on her 12th birthday, sets off to sea to try and find her past, whilst at the same time the rest of the cast try to find her before anything bad happens (and trust me, plenty of bad stuff happens).

So, essentially, the story is that of the original film in reverse; whereas Ariel was a mermaid who wanted to be human, Melody is a human who wants to be a mermaid. There's an interesting idea to be had there. Unfortunately, the whole idea of 'she must never know her past' is quite poorly done, and the whole crisis which drives the plot forward could easily have been resolved if Ariel had just explained to Melody why she can't go out to sea instead of giving her vague, confusing answers.

The pacing is also another key issue. Some parts of the film move far too quickly, and others are far too slow and drawn out. A prime example is near the end, where Ariel and Morgana are both trying to pursuade Melody that the other is wrong. This scene drags out for about a minute when it could easily be about 15 seconds long.

CAST AND VOICE ACTING

As most of these films make heavy use of soundalikes (or, in most cases, soundunlikes), it was quite a nice surprise to hear most of the original film's voice cast return, including Jodi Benson (Ariel), Samuel E. Wright (Sebastian), and Buddy Hackett (Scuttle, his final film role before his death in 2003). All of them give good performances given the somewhat duff material they have to work with. This is especially the case with Sebastian, who is just as hilarious as ever; a comic chase scene between him and Chef Louis is one such moment. There is also some character development along the way, with King Triton being a case in point.

However, the new characters are something of a mixed bag. Morgana (voiced by Pat Carroll, who also voiced Ursula in the original) comes across as rather bland. Although Carroll acts the part well (hell, she could make reading the phone directory exciting), she can never quite break out of the fact that Morgana is budget Ursula. The same is true of her sidekick, Undertow (Clancy Brown), who doesn't have much of a personality at all.

Thankfully, the new comic sidekicks, Tip and Dash, who turn up midway through the 2nd act, are a drastic improvement, and channel something of Timon and Pumbaa in their silliness and comic antics.

Which leaves us with the film's protagonist, Melody (Tara Strong (yes, you read that right)). Strong mentioned in an interview that she had a blast in the recording booth on this film, and it certainly shows, as she brings real energy to the character, not to mention that sweet, endearing charm which she would later channel when voicing Twilight Sparkle.

ANIMATION

As the film was animated by a studio that normally animated episodes of TV series (and was also made on a low budget), the animation quality is worse than that of the original film, which is especially noticable when they directly echo shots from the original film. One shot of Melody emerging from the water at the start is a direct echo of one of Ariel in the original, for instance.

Another common issue that occurs is the use of limited animation cycles. As episodes of TV series need to be produced quickly to meet airing schedules, it is standard practice to only animate certain objects. Unfortunately, this is very noticable in the film in several scenes.

An obvious example of this problem is Melody's birthday party, where throughout the scene characters who aren't in the foreground will simply freeze until they are needed to do something, at which point they resume moving. This has the effect of characters in the foreground moving normally and the background being seemingly filled with waxworks. I understand they had to put this together in a hurry, but a little bit of movement in the background would have worked wonders for realism.

The same scene, however, contains one of the best examples of animation in the film; the aforementioned chase scene, which is very dynamic and utterly hilarious.

MUSIC

Much like its predecessor, this film is a musical, although Alan Menken and Howard Ashman did not return to write the songs as Menken was busy on another project and Ashman had sadly passed away in 1991. Musical responsibilites are handled this time by Danny Troob, who does his best but doesn't quite match the sweeping majesty of the original's score. The songs are also nowhere near as good; compare Down to the Sea, which opens the second film;

to Under the Sea;

The duet between Melody and Ariel is quite well done, however. Whilst researching the film for this review, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Strong provided Melody's singing voice too (my experiences with MLP had led me to assume that somebody else had recorded the singing).

To wrap up, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea is one of the better Disney sequels, helped along by the fact that they tried to do something different with the story, and the fact that Melody is clearly her own character; there's more to her than just being Ariel's daughter. However, the numerous issues with the film render it far from perfect. Ultimately, it's perfectly servicable, but don't go into it expecting too much.

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Comments ( 4 )

Another positive in this film is how King Triton's developed into a better person. Wouldn't you agree?

5314861
I completely forgot to put that in the review. Whoops!

5314864
That's okay. You still have time to fill it in.

5315002
I'll need to figure out how to phrase it.

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