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3D Blu-ray Review The Little Mermaid (3D Blu-ray): THE HTF 3D ADDICT

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    [​IMG]
    What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.


    [​IMG]
    The Little Mermaid

    Studio: Walt Disney
    Product Release: October 1, 2013
    Ratio: 1.78:1
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Dolby Digital French & Spanish 5.1
    Running Time: 83 minutes
    Rating: G

    [​IMG]
    On A Scale 0-5

    Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 3
    3D Separation: 3
    3D In Yo' Face Factor: 0


    The Little Mermaid will forever be regarded as the film that heralded a rebirth
    in Disney animation. During the 1980s, after the studio had released a string
    of mediocre titles that included Oliver and Company and The Black Cauldron,
    interest in their animation had greatly dwindled. Returning to their roots, Disney
    took a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale and collaborated with top talents Howard
    Ashman and Alan Menken, to adapt the story into a Broadway-worthy musical feature.
    In 1989 when The Little Mermaid was released to theaters, Disney found themselves
    a new classic -- their first in nearly 30 years.

    For more than a decade Disney has been quite successful with their campaign in
    re-releasing some of their most popular animated titles theatrically and on Blu-ray,
    upconverted to 3D. Such successes included The Lion King, Beauty and The Beast,
    Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Up and Finding Nemo. With Disney seemingly on a 3D reissue
    rampage, it was rather surprising to see them put the brakes on bringing a 3D
    conversion of The Little Mermaid to theaters earlier this year. Many attributed the
    decision to somewhat declining box office sales and interest in 3D reissues.

    Fortunately, Disney didn't abandon the project entirely, making the effort to
    bring the newly converted The Little Mermaid to the home market with this upcoming
    3D Blu-ray release.

    [​IMG]

    Beautifully animated and filled with wonderful characters and music, The Little
    Mermaid stands today as one of Disney's greatest achievements. It's the story
    of a young mermaid princess named Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), who longs to
    belong to the world beyond the sea. Despite warnings from her father, King Triton
    (Kenneth Mars), the mermaid falls in love with a human prince she saved from
    drowning. Hoping to become human herself, she forfeits her voice to an evil sea
    witch named Ursula (Pat Caroll) in hopes of being transformed and winning her
    man's heart. Ariel's lovable friends Flounder (Jason Marin), Sebastian (Samuel E.
    Wright) and Scuttle (Buddy Hackett) do their best to make the Prince fall in love
    with the Princess before Ursula's spell takes an evil turn.

    Compared with many of the modern Disney animated releases over the years,
    The Little Mermaid may seem somewhat dated at first. It is one of the last films
    to use the traditional hand-painted cel animation process. Looking at the film
    so many years later, I found myself truly appreciating the level of artwork that
    translates so beautifully here for the very first time on Blu-ray.

    [​IMG]

    There's a huge amount of contrast with this hand-drawn effort compared to
    recent digital efforts by Disney and Pixar. There's nothing eye-popping as far
    as animation or colors go. Instead, everything has a more subdued, natural look to
    it. Colors look perfect without being over-saturated and black levels, at times, can be
    quite inky (check out prince Eric's hair). Without a single anomaly to be found in the
    transfer, all the details within the film's artwork are well defined. The film simply
    looks as good as one would expect.

    It's difficult for me to talk about the film's 3D conversion. Some are going to like
    it more than others. For those that are used to eye-popping visuals with lots of
    depth, you will be ultimately as disappointed as I was. I just didn't feel that The
    Little Mermaid looks astoundingly better in 3D than more recent computer animated
    efforts like Finding Nemo. I am guessing the reason for this is because we are
    dealing with hand-painted animation rather than something on a computer and
    that it involves an entirely different conversion process. I'll admit I am no expert
    on how this works, but something seems different about this upconversion than
    most all the other Disney upconverted releases thus far.

    [​IMG]

    While there is a sense of depth, it is kept very minimal. Most of the animation
    below the sea often seems flat. I think the most interesting underwater 3D
    effect is the presence of water bubbles that seem to place themselves forward.
    When the film's action rises above the water into Prince Eric's world, the level
    of depth is slightly more pronounced. In fact there are times where Scuttle's
    beak, Sebastian's claw, or a wisp of Ariel's hair seems to almost permeate the
    screen. During a tremendous thunderstorm that takes control of Prince Edward's
    ship, the windswept rain takes on an interesting dimensional effect. Yeah, at
    times this upconversion looks mostly good, but something tells me that perhaps
    this was not the best film to pick for such a conversion -- and certainly it's not
    going to be 3D demo material for anyone's library.

    Thankfully the film's 7.1 DTS Master Audio Track (downconverted to 5.1 on
    my system) is quite immersive thanks to the amount of music, effects and vocals
    that are supported through the rear channels. The very opening moments of
    the film feature a crew of singing seamen whose voices entirely surround the
    listening area. LFE booms as waves crash around the ship. Character voices
    move in and out of various channels. Even Ursula's maniacal laughter, later
    in the story, is echoed across the entire sound field. You can say that this is a
    powerful soundtrack with exceptional channel separation.

    ...and allow me to add that there's something to be said about hearing "Under
    The Sea" and the romantically moonlit "Kiss The Girl" in immersive 5.1. The entire
    sound field has never seemed so alive and it will be hard to keep your feet from
    tapping themselves against your chair.

    [​IMG]

    The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition arrives as a 3-Disc set with 3D Blu-ray,
    Blu-ray and DVD/Digital Copy. The packaging doesn't seem to be lenticular but
    nonetheless, the cardboard sleeve mimics the movement of the sun's rays as Ariel
    reaches for the ocean surface. New bonus features to this set include @DisneyAnimation,
    Disney Intermission (Crab-E-OKE Sing-Along), Deleted Character: Harold The Merman,
    Under the Scene: The Art of Live-Action Reference, Part of Her World: Jodi
    Benson's Voyage to New Fantasyland, Howard's Lecture and all of the original
    classic DVD bonus features.

    Also new is a 10 Music Track Download.

    Remarkably, Disney didn't litter the 3D Blu-ray disc with more than a single
    trailer for the upcoming 3D theatrical release of FROZEN.



    CONCLUSION

    [​IMG]

    The Little Mermaid is a scintillating mix of dynamic animation, top-notch voice
    talent and toe-tapping music by the song writing team of Ashman and Menken.
    It stands as one of the biggest Disney classics ever made.

    Unfortunately, I don't feel this is one of the better 3D conversions done by the
    studio. Depth is far more subtle throughout, with some sequences looking rather
    flat. Whether this was done by design or because we are dealing with hand-painted
    animation over CGI is something I don't have the expertise to elaborate on.

    All that being said, if you own a 3D display, it definitely doesn't hurt to buy the
    3-Disc package. I still feel that the upconversion does manage to bring something
    new to the table. I just don't feel that it will become demo material when showing
    off your new, cool display to friends and family.


    Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.

    Equipment

    LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display
    Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
    Denon 3311CI Receiver
    Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers
    SV Sound Subwoofer
     
  2. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Thanks, Ron!

    I pre-ordered this (the 2-D version) so long ago (Wow! April 19th!) that I had lost track of its release date.
    Your review of the audio track just got me VERY excited for this release. Bring it on! Just two weeks to go!
     
  3. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I am certainly disappointed to read the 3D is unimpressive. I thought there was so much potential for 3D in this film. The conversions of The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast were terrific. They were (mostly) cel-animation, weren't they?

    However, I love this film, and I have to have it on blu-ray and I might as well get the 3D. Gotta see it for myself.
     
  4. Jason_V

    Jason_V Producer

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    It's been preorderded for months...and I don't have a 3D TV. This is one of my favorite Disney movies and I can't wait!
     
  5. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    It's not bad.

    I just think the other conversions were more pronounced.

    There's going to be a lot of disagreement with my findings as
    people have different expectations when it comes to level of
    depth in a 3D presentation.
     
  6. Mark-P

    Mark-P Screenwriter

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    This is one where I'll opt for the 2d only package. I think traditional hand-drawn animation should remain flat, but that's just me. The reason the Pixar "conversions" look so good is because they are not conversions, they are native 3D. The 3D already existed in the virtual CGI files and simply needed to be re-rendered to give the point-of-view for each eye.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Mark.

    THAT was the explanation I was looking for and why I believe the more recent
    Pixar conversions look so much better.

    Thank you
     
  8. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Yeah, the pixar conversions are almost like they are "re-shooting" the movie. Good conversions can be done. BATB and LK come to mind. I love those movies and love the conversions to 3D.
     
  9. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    The Little Mermaid used the CAPS system for just one sequence near the end of the film but Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King used the CAPS system for the entire film meaning they were already in the computer and probably easier to convert to 3D although i am no expert in all this.

    I think i'll buy this and get the all singing and dancing edition with 3D but i'll watch it in 2D, i like to have a collectors edition should i sell it on sometime in the future, something i'd do should 4K take off and i re-buy titles.
     
  10. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    I thought I read somewhere that a few shots were reproduced backwords for this dvd/blu ray.
     
  11. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I keep seeing references to CAPS but I don't know what it is. Brief description?
     
  12. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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  13. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Basically, it's ink and paint in the computer if I understand the article correctly. Which means a feature produced with CAPS is already digital, so no scanning of the source material to get the film ready for a conversion. That would be a huge time and money saver.
     

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