1 The Mickey Mindset: Disney Animation Reviews #28 - The Little Mermaid

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Disney Animation Reviews #28 - The Little Mermaid

Disney Movie Review: 28/53 - The Little Mermaid

Ryan Dosier - I’ve finally made it through the relatively low point in Disney history that started after The Jungle Book and have come out on the other side to see The Little Mermaid (1989). This is clearly the start of a brand new animated renaissance for Disney and animation as a whole. The sheer amount of breathtaking beauty, storytelling, music, and character in The Little Mermaid makes it far and away the strongest Disney film since The Jungle Book and one of the greatest Disney animated features period.

The characters of The Little Mermaid jump off the screen in a spectacular fashion. The introductions of Sebastian the Crab, King Triton, Flounder, Ursula, and, of course, Ariel, are all incredible. Each of their first scenes immediately tells us who these characters are.

Ariel, especially, lights up the film with her electric personality, stunning animation, and outstanding voice provided by Jodi Benson. Ariel is the strongest female lead yet in a Disney feature. She is willing to give up her entire world to follow a dream that everyone calls crazy. She takes the time to fall in love with her prince and we completely root for her all the way. Ariel’s dream of a bigger and better world is what drives her and what makes her such a dynamic character for Disney.

If Ariel is not the film’s strongest character, then Sebastian certainly is. The magnificent Rastafarian crab is a crowning achievement in animation. He is completely hysterical and animated with obvious care and attention. His voice, from Samuel E. Wright, is outstanding. Sebastian is an incredible instance of voice acting prowess. Every line he delivers is better than the last. Above all, though, Sebastian cares for Ariel so much and does whatever it takes for her. He rises to be the second most important character in the film and steals every scene he’s in.

But really, all of the characters in Mermaid are magnificent. Ursula is one of my favorite Disney villains. She carries a weight and a wit with her voice and animation that makes her rise above the ranks of Disney villains. Ursula is a constant threat throughout, getting more and more evil every time she is onscreen. Ursula is theatrical and breathtaking. Then there’s Scuttle the stupid seagull with a heart of gold, or Flounder the little guppy who would do anything for Ariel, or King Triton who lets his daughter go to be happy, and even Prince Eric who is the first Disney prince to have a personality. All of the characters work and stun throughout the film.

The magic is also back with the animation of the film. Ariel is the most impressively animated character, especially during “Part of That World.” Her hair flows so beautifully underwater and she swims and dances with outstanding animated ease. Ariel is outstandingly lifelike thanks to the master animator Glen Keane, who does some of his strongest work for The Little Mermaid.

Then there’s the music. There are not enough positive adjectives to describe the songs in The Little Mermaid. Thanks to the talents of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, The Little Mermaid has maybe the best songs in any Disney feature yet. It’s not just the music or lyrics; it’s the storytelling on the screen. When Ariel sings “Part of Your World,” it is impossible not to connect with her or empathize with her plight. It is incredibly beautiful and a great story above all. “Poor Unfortunate Souls,” Ursula’s song, is a great villain song that makes Ursula even better.

Sebastian’s two songs, “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl,” are my favorites in the movie. They are the most lively, best written, and fun songs in the film. “Under the Sea” really can’t be beat in terms of sheer enjoyability. It makes you want to get up and dance and sing along. The colors and the characters in the song light it up so well.

From a storytelling angle, The Little Mermaid is outstanding. There are so many exciting sequences and moments in the beginning that you are drawn in instantly. Ariel and her supporting cast carry the film to great places. The filmmakers found a way to make you root for Ariel all the way through and cheer with her happiness or shed a tear when her dream is fulfilled at the end.

The Little Mermaid meant an exceptional amount to Disney animation when it achieved such huge success. It launched a total renaissance in animation that led to virtually everything animated that has come since. With wonderful characters, outstanding music, and magical storytelling, The Little Mermaid returned Disney animation to a place of much deserved prominence. It really is hotter under the water.

5/5 Rug-Cutting Slugs

No comments:

Post a Comment