The Little Mermaid II: Return To The Sea

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Animation/Family Game - The Little Mermaid II Trivia Game
The Little Mermaid II DVD Story Book
Game - What Am I?
Year Released 2000
Running Time 72:14 minutes
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection, then Menu
Region 2,4 Director Jan Kammerud
Walt Disney Pictures
Warner Home Video
Starring Jodi Benson
Samuel E. Wright 
Tara Charendoff
Pat Carroll 
Buddy Hackett
Kenneth Mars
Max Casella 
Stephen Furst 
Rob Paulsen
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $36.95 Music Danny Troob

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Danish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Norwegian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.66:1?
Macrovision ?Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    The Little Mermaid was basically the animated feature film that resurrected a moribund Disney Corporation in 1988 and put them on the road to financial security after a decade or so of disasters - like we all remember Oliver & Company, right? It was a refreshing tale, with lots of bright, colourful animation and plenty of good music, including the unforgettable Under The Sea. Since then, Disney have produced a dazzling array of great animated feature films. They have also managed to milk about every dollar they could possibly milk from every one of those hits since then. And so here we are twelve years later and guess what? Disney have come up with The Little Mermaid II - Return To The Sea, a blatant attempt to milk the story of Ariel for all it is worth. Well, after this effort it will be worth a lot less as a franchise.

   Coincidentally, the story picks up pretty much twelve years after The Little Mermaid and Ariel (Jodi Benson) and Eric (Rob Paulsen) are celebrating the twelfth birthday of their daughter Melody (Tara Charendoff). Now Ariel has been a little naughty and withheld from Melody the rather vital knowledge that she is descended from King Triton (Kenneth Mars) and therefore a mermaid. This was done to save her from the clutches of Morgana (Pat Carroll), the evil sister of the even more evil, but deceased, Ursula. However, Melody has an affinity for the sea and despite the efforts of her parents, escapes into that realm whenever she can. After discovering a pendant with her name on it whilst swimming, and not liking her mother's failure to explain certain things, she runs away to find the truth. Which runs her slap bang into Morgana, and thus runs her headlong into trouble with a capital T. Said trouble involves theft from Triton and the realization that she is something other that what she seems - and that Morgana is definitely not the pleasant person she seems.

    A pretty banal story all up that really is just an excuse to trot out the delightful characters from the original film, plus a few new (and far less memorable) characters. Most of the original vocal cast is assembled here - I think Rob Paulsen as Eric is the only non-original voice from amongst the main characters. The songs are lacklustre and the feel here is very direct-to-video throughout.

    Very much aimed at the younger audience, this really does have to be seen in that context. However, it is not a patch on The Little Mermaid, as is not unexpected in any sequel, and really there is nothing much here apart from variety to encourage a purchase of this rather than the original film.

Transfer Quality


    Another made-for-video effort given a widescreen presentation by Disney in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. This time however it is not 16x9 enhanced, which is disappointing after a succession of 16x9 enhanced widescreen transfers for animated features.

    A good transfer has been produced here, being quite sharp and quite detailed. Perhaps the only minor complaint here is the fact that some of the edges are perhaps not quite as sharp and as solid as they should be. Given that this is a direct-to-video effort and given the target audience, I again doubt too many will be complaining about it. The transfer is nice and clear and does not suffer from grain or low level noise at all.

    The colours come up very well here, nice and bright and vibrant. There is nice tonal depth throughout, and the colours seem to be very consistently rendered. The one downer is that poor old Sebastian gives the mastering people hell, and he tends to oversaturate at times as well as suffering a little from what looks like colour bleed. That, however, would be the only real qualms about the colours, and even then they are quite minor issues.

    Apart from some minor resolution loss on one pan shot, there did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. The only noticeable issue with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer is a mild shimmer that generally causes character lines to be slightly broken rather than solid black. There did not appear to be any film artefacts in the transfer.

    This is a Dual Layered DVD, and in the absence of noticing any layer change during the film itself, I am presuming the film is mastered on one layer with the extras on the second layer.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are three soundtracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Danish Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I once again valiantly stuck to listening to the English default soundtrack.

    The dialogue and vocals come up very well in the transfer and are easy to understand. There is of course the inherent problem of animation sync.

    The music score comes from Danny Troob, whom I presume is a staff composer at Disney as I have not heard of him before. Let me assure you that nothing here is anywhere near the original The Little Mermaid in terms of quality. It is a very by-the-numbers effort that is totally in keeping with the direct-to-video status of the film.

    What happened to the Disney tradition of no bass channel on its animated DVDs, so as not to disturb the youngsters? This is another Disney animated effort aimed at a younger audience that gets some bass channel work, albeit not especially great. The rest of the soundtrack is perfectly acceptable if somewhat lacking in great use of the surround channels, both front and rear. The soundtrack is a fairly open effort, even if the dialogue sounds just a little too forced in the overall mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Yet another Disney DVD with extras!!! Mind you, this collection is again aimed at the younger set, but an extra is an extra after all.


    Decently themed if lacking somewhat in anything to make them memorable.

Game - The Little Mermaid II Trivia Game

    Sixteen relatively simple questions about the film, where a correct answer is rewarded with a fanfare and a still from the film highlighting the answer and where an incorrect answer gets a suitable aquatic raspberry. Your score is provided at the end.

The Little Mermaid II DVD Story Book

    A condensed version of the film, which unlike those on earlier DVD releases is not automated - you have to push the next button to progress from one page to the next. The story can either be read by the children or they can have it read to them.

Game - Who Am I?

    This moves a little more towards the educational. Twelve questions where you are asked to identify an animal from the list of three choices provided by listening to the description. A correct answer is rewarded with a short piece of the film, plus a short live action piece of film showing the actual animal with accompanying voice over describing their main traits. An incorrect answer gets a suitable aquatic raspberry. Who said Disney had no desire to educate children? The live action film is generally well presented, sharp and detailed except for the one relating to sea lions, which is a little diffuse in the image. Different and a plus because it is.

R4 vs R1

    It would appear that the Region 1 release is substantially the same as the Region 4 release, making the two essentially the same, with no preference for one or the other.


    The Little Mermaid II - Return To The Sea is nothing more than a blatant attempt to cash in on the original film, which is infinitely better. If you have the money to spend on this one, I would suggest you use it to go out and get the original The Little Mermaid in preference, unless you already have that film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
9th December 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL