‘The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea’ (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Here on the Land and Sea

It’s time to check out the sequel to the 1989 film ‘The Little Mermaid’! 🙂

One of the advantages of being a Disney+ subscriber is that you don’t have to purchase physical copies of certain films like direct-to-video sequels to already established classic Disney films! Yes, you have to pay £5-7 or so to be a Disney+ subscriber every month, but that’s a small price to pay. 🙂

And that’s what I did when I checked out ‘The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea’ on Disney+ instead of purchasing the DVD release of it. I could have rented the film on Google Play, but the Disney+ option is better. I hope to do the same in checking out other direct-to-video Disney sequels.

‘The Little Mermaid II’ was released on VHS and DVD in September 2000. I recall seeing the trailer for the film on a few early DVD releases for films like ‘Toy Story’, ‘Toy Story 2’ and ‘Tarzan’. I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing the film, but I imagined that it’d be a decent sequel to the original. 🙂

I had seen previous direct-to-video Disney sequels like ‘The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride’ and ‘Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World’ which were released on VHS. Whilst I enjoyed them, they’re not great. It’s disappointing most of the direct-to-video Disney sequels weren’t shown at cinemas. 😦

I believe the only one that was shown on the big screen was ‘Return to Never Land’, the sequel to Disney’s ‘Peter Pan’ film. So, it was to be a fascinating endeavour for me to check out ‘The Little Mermaid II’, a sequel to a film 11 years in the making. Was it all worth it to see this film on Disney+?

Beforehand, I discovered that the film received largely negative reviews. Some criticised the film’s plot, considering it to be a generic rehash of the original film. There are also some who consider ‘The Little Mermaid II’ a cult classic. There are also some fans of Melody, Ariel’s daughter in the film itself.

What did I make of the film? I found it okay. I wouldn’t say it was terrible, but it’s not exactly great. I can see what people are getting at with this film being a rehash of the original film. Even my Dad commented on that being the case. But there is something about this film that makes it different. 😀

‘The Little Mermaid II’ takes place 12 years after the events of the first film. Ariel and Eric have a daughter whom they name Melody. Melody wishes to swim in the ocean, despite her parents’ law that the sea is forbidden. This is because Ursula’s evil sister Morgana is out to cause trouble again. 😐

Now on the one hand, I like the idea of Ariel’s daughter who’s human wanting to be a mermaid. It’s a nice reversal of the story featured in the first film. Ariel wanted to be human instead of a mermaid. Honestly, the film could have worked if it went all of the way with Melody wanted to be a mermaid.

Mind you, in the first film, you rooted for Ariel wanting to be a human instead of a mermaid because she was in love with Eric. It was pretty lovey-dovey, but at least you rooted for Ariel ending up with the prince of her dreams. Here, there’s not really much to be emotionally invested with Melody. 😐

You could have had Melody fall in love with a merboy. Melody does meet a merboy who she takes a liking to when she visits Atlantica. But that’s not exactly the route the film goes for. I know a sequel has to try not repeating what was in the original, but I would like to feel the emotional connections. 😐

Another issue I have with ‘The Little Mermaid II’ is the animation for this film doesn’t exactly match to the animation featured in the first film. I know its 11 years later, but the animation does feel rushed in places and it isn’t exactly the same texture and style you’d recognise from the first film. 😦

Also, a suggestion to Ariel and Eric is rather than have a wall surrounding your castle to prevent Melody visiting the sea (a subtle foreshadowing to Donald Trump’s wall between the US and Mexico perhaps, according to my Dad); you could have taken your daughter some place far away from the sea.

Something I’ve noticed about ‘The Little Mermaid II’ is that it’s shorter than the first film. Yeah! Where the first ‘Little Mermaid’ film is about 83 minutes, the second ‘Little Mermaid’ film is about 75 minutes. Perhaps most of the direct-to-video Disney sequels are shorter than their original counterparts here.

Quite a number of the original voice cast from the first film return for this second film. There’s of course Jodi Benson back to voice Ariel. I like Ariel and Melody’s relationship. It’s intriguing when Ariel blames herself for not telling Melody about her true heritage, but it could’ve been explored further.

Tara Charendoff (now Tara Strong) voices Melody in the film. Whilst I appreciate the coming-of-age angle, especially as Melody learns why her parents prevented her knowing about Atlantica and what it means to be a mermaid, I feel that her journey could have been handled in a very different direction.

For one thing, we don’t get to see her grow up with her parents at their castle. We first see her as a baby and she’s soon a teenage girl about five or ten minutes or so into the film. Melody could have also been told why she couldn’t go into the sea rather than Ariel and Eric not sharing their reasons. 😦

Sebastian the crab is back (voiced by Samuel E. Wright). I don’t know what it is, but Sebastian at times could be grating when he’s self-pitting himself whilst told to look after Melody growing up. Flounder is also back; voiced this time by Cam Clarke instead of Jason Marin. And he sounds older. 😀

I know time has gone by and that Flounder isn’t a kid anymore, but it’s so surreal to find him an adult as opposed to a kid in this film. And he happens to have kids. Where’s the mother in all this? We don’t see Flounder’s lover. Is this like meeting Hikaru Sulu’s daughter in ‘Star Trek: Generations’?

Ursula’s sister Morgana (No, not the one from ‘Doctor Who’s ‘Battlefield’ and not the one from ‘The Kid Who Would Be King’) is voiced by Pat Carroll. And yes, Pat Carroll is the actress who voiced Ursula in the original ‘Little Mermaid’ film. You could easily confuse Morgana as Ursula in this film. 🙂

By the way, does Morgana live in the Fortress of Solitude from Superman when we see her base in – the North Pole? Antarctica? I’m not sure. It could have been the Fortress of Solitude at one time. Maybe Morgana exiled Superman out and destroyed all the crystals featuring Jor-El’s ghost in them. 😀

Prince Eric is voiced by Rob Paulsen instead of Christopher Daniel Barnes (who incidentally voiced Spider-Man/Peter Parker in the 1994 ‘Spider-Man’ animated series. 😀 ). I thought Prince Eric didn’t sound the same when I saw him in this film. But at least Kenneth Mars returned to voice King Triton.

Buddy Hackett also came back to voice Scuttle the seagull in this film. Morgana has a pet tiger shark in the film called Undertow (voiced by Clancy Brown, whom you may have seen in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’). I found it funny when he had size problems in the film and wanted to be big again. 😀

There are also two characters in the film that Melody befriends – a penguin called Tip (voiced by Max Casella) and a walrus called Dash (voiced by Stephen Furst). These two can easily be identified as ‘The Little Mermaid’s version of Timon and Pumbaa from ‘The Lion King’. They often sound like them. 😀

The late René Auberjonois (Odo from ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’) returns to voice Chef Louis. There are traces of Odo in Chef Louis’ voice when hearing him in this film. Ironic that René’s Odo appearances in ‘DS9’ are sandwiched in-between ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Little Mermaid II’. 😀

The songs in the film aren’t that great compared to the original film. There are songs like ‘Down to the Sea’, ‘Tip and Dash’, ‘Iko Iko’, ‘Octopus’s Garden’, ‘For a Moment’, ‘Give a Little Love’, ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ and ‘Here on the Land and Sea’, but they’re not that memorable when you’re watching the film.

I would have preferred reprises of songs from the original film like ‘Under the Sea’ or something. At least during the film’s end credits, there’s a lovely new rendition of the song ‘Part of Your World’ performed by Chely Wright. It’s a big shame Alan Menken wasn’t in charge of the music for this film.

Over the years, ‘The Little Mermaid II’ has had a number of DVD/Blu-ray releases. There have been special features like the 1938 cartoon short ‘Merbabies’, a trivia game, the ‘What Am I?’ sea creature game and ‘The Little Mermaid II’ DVD storybook. There’s also a deleted song called ‘Gonna Get My Wish’ (which you can see on Disney+); ‘The Little Mermaid II’ underwater mer-adventure challenge game and a sneak peak of ‘Tinker Bell and the Pirate Fairy’.

‘The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea’ has been a fascinating sequel to check out. I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s hardly terrible. It suffers with the animation not matching the original film’s animation style and the story and the characters could have been handled better with a longer running time. 😐

Things do seem rushed when telling the story of Melody’s desire of wanting to be a mermaid instead of a human, but I enjoyed checking out this film and I’m glad to have checked it out on Disney+ rather than on DVD. It’ll be interesting to see what the other direct-to-video Disney sequels are like.

‘The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea’ rating – 7/10

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