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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The Little Mermaid - Disappointingly NOT Recommended



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#1 of 167 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted October 02 2006 - 03:54 PM


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#2 of 167 OFFLINE   EricSchulz

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Posted October 02 2006 - 04:05 PM

YIKES!!! While I am purchasing the Disney DVDs for me AND my niece and nephew, I am shocked to see this get such a disappointing review! Since I don't own it in any form, I will be getting it but definitely calling in the 1-800 number!

#3 of 167 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted October 02 2006 - 04:24 PM

i'll wait for the br version.
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#4 of 167 ONLINE   Mark-P

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Posted October 02 2006 - 05:55 PM

Well David, I've waited all day for your review and as much as I don't believe I'm saying this, I think I'm going to pass on this disc. The improved picture (with reservations) would have been nice, but I honestly don't think I can stomach the botched soundtrack. I was not a fan of the DEHT mixes of Aladdin, Lady and the Tramp, or Mary Poppins, but in each case I wasn't forced to live with them. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that some other region will have the original soundtrack.

#5 of 167 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted October 02 2006 - 10:29 PM

Thanks, David, for a very extensive and thorough review. Very disappointing news. I just cancelled my order for this title (and only just in time...). Cees

#6 of 167 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted October 02 2006 - 10:48 PM

Wow!! Well I guess I'm fortunate in that I still own the original "Limited Issue" disc (purchased in January 2000). I'll still be purchasing this title - I have no choice really since I pre-ordered it quite some time ago - but this review has really toned down my excitement for this release. If this is as bad as David implies (and I usually agree 100% with his assessment of these Disney titles) then this title may get "The Most Disappointing DVD of 2006" award. (And we all thought the recent Star Wars release was a lock for that award!) I mean, we've waited all these years for an anamorphic version of this movie on the DVD format and we get ... this?!! I suppose we can hope that the inevitable HD release will be better, but it's hard to imagine that it could be. I'm sure that, as David indicated in his review, Disney will want to get the most out of this "restoration" by using it as the source for the HD version of the title. I'll have this disc in my hands tonight and will hold out hope that it looks and sounds a little better on my system than what has been indicated here, but my expectations have now been significantly reduced. *sigh*
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#7 of 167 OFFLINE   dpippel

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Posted October 02 2006 - 11:19 PM

Thanks for the review David. Very, very disappointing news. I was looking forward to this title and am now giving it a pass. How could a studio like Disney sign off on such a shoddily done release of one of their animated crown jewels? It boggles the mind! I'll tell ya, with such huge inconsistencies in their DVD releases it doesn't bode well for what they'll do with HD. I remember when the word "Disney" was synonymous with the highest standards possible. Walt must be turning over in his grave to see what the company he founded has become. Posted Image

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#8 of 167 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted October 02 2006 - 11:35 PM

David, Thank you for your comments. The time and effort given your review are applauded. This DVD is a terrible thing to do to the artists behind the creation of the original. I would humbly suggest that Disney go back to square one with the title for both image and audio, and quietly (six months from now) sneak the properly masterly replacement DVD in the marketplace. Audio is simple. They have it. Image should also be relatively easy, as they can access the original negative, and deliver it to the proper vendor for digital clean-up -- NOT restoration. For the second time, this film does NOT need to be restored. Of the millions of copies of the current DVD that will be sold during the intervening months, they can then (quietly) offer a replacement to those who request it. We'll probably be talking hundreds of copies out of millions sold. Seems like a very simple solution. RAH

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#9 of 167 OFFLINE   Charles Ellis

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Posted October 03 2006 - 12:58 AM

I own a copy of the original DVD release- how is this disc in comparison to this new release? Answers, Messrs. Boulet & Harris?
Bring "The continuing story of PEYTON PLACE" home on DVD: the one that started it all- from Dallas and Dynasty to Desperate Housewives and Gossip Girl!!! Starting this May, see the legendary saga starring Mia Farrow, Ryan O'Neal, Barbara Parkins, and Oscar-winner Dorothy Malone on DVD thru...

#10 of 167 ONLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:05 AM

Thank you, David. Regardless your review, I will pick this up tonight. If (probably when) I find I agree with your sentiments on the audio mix and video treatment, I will quickly pick up the phone and let the Mouse know I am not happy with what he's done. As you noted in the opening of your review, the coming together of Alan Menken with Howard Ashman (regrettably omitted from your review) and the performances of Jodi Benson, Samuel E. Wright, and Pat Carroll approach perfection and results in an important turning point in the studio's history. The entire creative team which was responsible for this film should be rewarded with a DVD representation worthy of their efforts.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#11 of 167 ONLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:08 AM

Charles: David referenced the original DVD release throughout his review...making regular comparisons to video and qudio quality. The only stone left unturned (as of this moment) are special features...which he intimates may make a double-dip desirable. He will be posting that addition to the review shortly.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#12 of 167 OFFLINE   ZackR

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:26 AM

Very disappointing. I like RAH's suggestion, though I doubt they would do it - especially considering the relatively few people that will care. Sad...sad...sad. At least I still have the old one, and I am not above making my own hybrid. Still, how could Disney have botched this so badly? TLM is one of their most beloved classics.
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#13 of 167 OFFLINE   Al.Anderson

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:28 AM

This is one of a very few movies where I'd be saying this, but - I'm going to get this DVD. I also know that I'm going to hate myself in the morning. It's this or my VHS copy (which is only hooked up to my computer). I will at least make use of the 800 number, or a written letter if I can find an address. Disney has been really ticking me off of late, starting with the forced previews and now the shoddy quality.

#14 of 167 OFFLINE   pitchman

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:30 AM

You know, it's funny. I caught the DVD commercial on TV a few times over the weekend and I thought things looked pretty soft and funky during the "restoration" comparison scene. At the time, I just chalked it up to bad video, but I guess I was wrong.
Gary

#15 of 167 ONLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:47 AM

Gary: I know you are commenting on the video quality of the "after" picture on the restoration scene of the TV ad, but wasn't the "before" picture also crazy? I'd never seen Ariel as a brunette before. What a shameful way to try to get people to buy your product. Posted Image

There are so many wonderful selling points with The Little Mermaid and Disney feels like it's got to have some video flunky screw with the colors to make the new release look 'better"?!?! Posted Image

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#16 of 167 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:48 AM

As RAH points out, there's a big difference between restoration and digital-cleanup. Restoration refers to the process of repairing/restoring film elements, whereas digital-cleanup merely refers to what's done in the digital domain once those elements (in whatever condition) are scanned. That's why I use "restoration" in quotes in my review... to highlight its somewhat misplaced use in the context of this DVD presentation (though I should clarify in the review for greater accuracy). BTW, I've thought about this long and hard. I think if I were to sit down with myself to enjoy an evening of the little mermaid and didn't have other guests to worry about, I'd actually watch the *** OLD *** DVD. For me personally, the inferior picture is more easily tolerated on my 106" screen than the inferior audio of the new DEHT mix on the new disc. If I were having others over, I might watch the new disc instead as it's likely their impressions of the better video would outweight any criticism they might have of the audio (especially if they weren't familiar with the previous auido mixes). However, the BEST solution would be to burn a custom DVD mating the video of the new disc with the audio of the old. In fact, I'm tempted to do that. I also want to do that with Hello Dolly... mating the new DVD video with the AC3 from the laserdisc in that case. First I need to get a DVD burner!
Ammended.
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#17 of 167 OFFLINE   Ray Chuang

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Posted October 03 2006 - 01:51 AM

I had a chance to see The Little Mermaid on my VHS retail release copy and noticed it had a very soft focus to start with. In contrast, my VHS retail release copy of The Lion King had a pretty sharp focus to start with. That does explain why The Little Mermaid on this DVD release is a bit lacking in sharpness details. Hopefully, when Disney comes around to releasing The Little Mermaid on Blu-Ray they digitally improve the detail sharpness.
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#18 of 167 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted October 03 2006 - 02:15 AM

It is indeed disappointing that one of the best Disney flicks ever made is getting such a presentation. This could and should have been a lock for best DVD of the year. I guess I'll hang onto the LE still sitting on the shelf for now. David-thanks for all your hard work and Robert, thanks for all your insights.

#19 of 167 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted October 03 2006 - 02:19 AM

There is intentional softness in the opening scene. However, this DVD seems softer to my eyes that what I would have expected from a projected film print of animation even long after that gausian opening shot has gone. There's something "off" about the digital processing behind this image.
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#20 of 167 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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Posted October 03 2006 - 02:55 AM

"Digitally improving the detail sharpness" is no solution. Edge enhancement would only make the problems worse, not better. Disney needs to go back to the elements and have someone else do the video transfer without slapping on the excessive DNR (which ironically creates more problems than it solves) and do a fastidious touchup of any spots that need it. Just sticking it through an algorithm is not the way to treat animation, or you end up with an abomination.