DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Little Mermaid - Disappointingly NOT Recommended

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DaViD Boulet, Oct 2, 2006.

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  1. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    David, thanks for the in-depth review and all the time and effort you put into it. Sadly, I imagine that the mega-corp juggernaut that Disney is will hardly notice or care about such observations. I hope I'm wrong and they make amends, certainly for Blu-ray if not a DVD reissue, but I'm pessimistic.

    Based on your comments I'm surprised you gave the sound even a 2.5. Seems like a 1.5 or 2.0 would be more appropriate.
    By the way ...The proper word here is "aspersions."
     
  2. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Glenn,

    thanks for the comments and for the vocab lesson (appreciated!).

    The reason I didn't rate the audio any worse is because I know that most folks will listen to it and say "it's great!" because they don't know what the real sound is supposed to sound like. But this audiophile wasn't so easily duped.

    I doubt that Disney's bottom line will be affected by my accurate review of the picture and sound on this disc, but I do hope that someone at the Disney company who's as upset about the problem with the audio as I am (there must be at least *one* individual working there who "gets" how bad this new mix is given the omission of the original) and that the conversation here helps motivate the studio towards better results on Blu-ray. Not really optimistic, just hopeful.
     
  3. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    Thanks for the review. Looks like another laserdisc to hang onto for awhile.
     
  4. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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    I just read the UltimateDisney.com review. As you predicted David, others don't seem to hear anything wrong. Here is what it says, in part, about the DEHT mix:
    I am torn. I don't want to get this based on your review, and because I don't want to "reward" Disney for shoddy work, but I am really curious to do a comparison with my Limited Issue DVD to see if I hear the kind of audio differences you describe. I've always been a lot more attuned to video quality than audio when watching a movie, but I think if I focus on the sound I can hear significant differences.
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Dave: That seems like a pretty realistic and reasonable approach to the situation.

    There have been a number of separate discussions here at the HTF in recent weeks about the best way for members to affect the various changes they would like to see--either to individual releases or to overall studio practices. As you might expect, ideas and solutions ran the gamut.

    It is my belief that discussions such as the one that will result from your thorough review will go a long way towards educating this membership and other readers and influence their perception of future releases and that the overall result will be a better product.

    While I have nothing against campaigns involving e-mails, letters and phone calls, it is the very process of the give-and-take here that I think impels people to action. The resulting phone calls, etc. are a positive result/bonus of the discussions here. [​IMG]
     
  6. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    Thanks for the review DaViD.

    I pre-ordered at TDS and am getting ready to go get it. Hopefully I will find it less objectionable than you do. All I have is the VHS so this is a no-brainer. The extras sound pretty good.

    Obviously the orig. audio is the proper answer here but short of that I thought it was part of the DVD spec to have a 2.0 track. I guess I'm confused on that. Could someone help me out?

    Also, just out of curiosity, have you checked the other 5.1 tracks (non-English)?
     
  7. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    The other non-English 5.1 tracks sound fine to my ears... they don't suffer from the same "flat/dry/electronic" character on lead vocals during musical numbers like the English DEHT mix.

    Yes, the DVD spec allows for 2.0 DD, 5.1 DD, and mutiple DD (or LPCM and DTS) tracks. For some reason Disney simply chose not to provide the original mix. The 5.1 mix on the previous DVD was a good representation of what it should have been.
     
  8. John Kilduff

    John Kilduff Screenwriter

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    I actually had a dream today about coming across a laserdisc copy of this movie in a mom-and-pop video store. It cost only 7 dollars in my dream and I was going to pick it up along with a VHS copy of a fictional 80s teen movie called "Bitchin'". Before that could happen, though, I woke up and I couldn't get back to sleep. Real Xanadu stuff...

    On to the DVD: I will be purchasing it, warts and all. I've waited years for this title, and I look forward to seeing the images and hearing the songs, even though they aren't in good condition.

    Sincerely,

    John Kilduff...

    I'll still hold on to my VHS copy, though. I was able to get a copy with the infamous "dick cover" off Half.com several years back.
     
  9. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    I agree with your thoughts Mike, but I'm depressed. Why? Here we are *10 years* after the roll out of SD DVD back in '97, and a major studio that should be leading the industry in home video quality and technology is *still* producing releases that are plagued with audio/video QC problems. Companies with the talent, resources, and experience of Disney simply should not be making grade-school level mistakes with their DVD releases, particularly on tent pole titles like "The Little Mermaid". It's just beyond me. At this point in the game they shouldn't need letter writing campaigns, phone calls, or petitions from consumers asking them to get their act together.

    It's extremely discouraging to me that there's still a need for people to be discussing the points you make in your post here at the end of 2006.
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    I'd encourage any serious audiophiles to pick up the limited-edition DVD along side this new purchase (from ebay?) and then burn their own custom DVD using the (problematic but better) image from the new disc with the outstanding 5.1 mix from the old.
     
  11. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member
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    Once you're done, perhaps you should send a copy to Disney so they can start replicating it. [​IMG]
     
  12. pitchman

    pitchman Screenwriter

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    Yeah, Mike, that's exactly what I was referring to.

    What a cluster this release is shaping up to be!

    The sad thing is that I will hold my nose and buy this thing anyway. I sold the LD years ago and never bothered with the original bare-bones DVD release.

    It amazes me that Disney now appears to be putting more effort into their TV-DVD releases (Lost, Grey's Anatomy, etc.) instead of the animated classics that the company was founded on.
     
  13. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    I'll give it a spin and see if I agree with David.
     
  14. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    David,

    Great review. Thanks for all of the work. Spending two hours switching among four audio sources does not sound like my idea of fun.

    I'll be passing on this.

    Your description of the picture quality (blurry characters, clear backgrounds) sounds a lot like Sleeping Beauty which was also 'restored' in a strange non-ultrarez manner.

    -Reagan
     
  15. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Reagan,

    funny you should mention Sleeping Beauty. I first reviewed that DVD when I still had my direct-view 34" 16x9 set. On that tube, I thought it look great. Now, seeing Sleeping Beauty on my projector, I'm amazed how bad it looks compared to many other Disney DVD efforts. Yes, exactly, a very similar look/feel with that title in terms of softness of the foreground characters. S.B. also had some pretty bad EE in some scenes.
     
  16. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    I'm a little surprised at how many people indicate that they are disappointed with this release, but plan to purchase it anyway. Some have indicated that they'll register their displeasure via an angry letter to Disney. I'm sure Disney will be quite happy to receive as many angry letters as you're willing to send as long as you keep buying their (substandard) DVDs.

    Seriously, what incentive does does Disney have to do better if the only people who'd even notice such a problem (your typical HTF denizens) don't care enough to vote with their wallet?
     
  17. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp
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    I'm in the minority of people who never really warmed to this film. I was going to buy this out of completeness, but I think I'll wait for a better presentation.

    This is easilly one of the best DVD reviews I've ever read. Great, great work David.
     
  18. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    exactly....
     
  19. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I like this film (I saw it twice in its original run and once in the reissue), but I think I'll wait for HD or try and get it on the cheap.

    I do have two reservations about it: 1) why does Ariel dislike being a mermaid? The ability to breathe both in and out of water ought to be a definite positive aspect. 2) I thought Eric the handsome prince was pretty dull. I wouldn't change my species for him.
     
  20. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I'm very disappointed to read the review, but judging from the very lacking quality of that Disney Rareities tin last year, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

    I have pre-ordered this and will watch and listen for myself. However, I may just end up burning my own DVD from the laserdisc I have. Glad I hung on to it.
     

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