DVD Review “Killer Mermaid”

Actors: Franco Nero, Kristina Klebe, Natalie Burn, Dragan Micanvic
Directors: Milan Todorovic
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Epic Pictures
DVD Release Date: September 9, 2014

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

With the overflow of creature features recently like “Sharknado” etc, I caught wind of this horror film. Here is the problem though, the film is called “Killer Mermaid” but for the first hour all the “killing” is done by some grizzy old man and there is no sight of any mermaid until about 65 minutes in.

Official Premise: Two young women go on a Mediterranean vacation and uncover the watery lair of a killer mermaid hidden beneath an abandoned military fortress. What was once a carefree adventure becomes a deadly fight for survival.

When you finally do get to see the mermaid, let me tell you she is freaking awesome looking, but the wait is too long. The film is obviously lov budget but the mermaid design is pretty cool. The shooting locations are also quite the view. From the caves, to the beaches, they cast must have had a nice trip with this film.

The film also stars Kristina Klebe, who is know for her role in “Rob Zombie’s Halloween”. Other than her, the rest of the cast is surprising decent as well for a low budget creature feature. I was just really hoping for more mermaid and less old man with a throwing anchor.

The special features on this DVD are not jam-packed. There is a behind-the-scene featurette included. There is a bonus crowdfunding promo, I guess film reach out to fans to help make some bucks. Lastly there is a featurette on the creature in “Making of The Mermaid”, which was easily my favorite extra.

Blu-ray Review “The Little Mermaid: 2-Movie Collection”

Starring: Jodi Benson, Samuel E. Wright, Tara Strong, Rob Paulsen, Jim Cummings, Sally Field
Directors: Jim Kammerud, Peggy Holmes
Number of discs: 3
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Run Time: 152 minutes

The Little Mermaid: Return to the Sea: 3 out of 5 stars
The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” and “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning”, the direct-to-video sequel and prequel to the timeless classic “The Little Mermaid are make their high definition on Blu-ray. It is the latest 2-Movie Collection from Disney, which has been unloading its catalog of films on Blu-ray over the last year. I know the world has been rioting to get these two films releases but it is nice to add them to my collection. They are not the best out of the Disney sequels/prequels but who doesn’t love “The Little Mermaid”? I grew up watching the original film and now my daughter (who is 17 months) watches it at least once a day, so I have a feeling we are going to be getting a lot of use out of these discs. I would probably only recommend this for hardcore Disney fans.

Official Premise: “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea” follows the plight of Melody (Tara Strong), the daughter of Ariel (Jodi Benson) and Prince Eric (Rob Paulsen). To protect her from the evil sea witch, Morgana (Pat Carroll), Melody is not allowed in the ocean… until she turns twelve, when she runs away and experiences an adventure under the sea. Then, in “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning”, we go back in time, before the events of “The Little Mermaid”. After a traumatic event has a profound effect on King Triton, all music is banned from the underwater kingdom of Atlantica. All that changes, though, when his youngest daughter Ariel attempts to challenge the new law.

Disney is releases this 2-Movie Collection in a 3-disc set. There is a single BD-50 disc with both films in high definition and there then are two DVDs for each film in standard definition. My question is…”Where are the digital copies”? Disney has been doing great with this recently but I am kinda disappointed here.  The 1080p transfers on both films look good and support the colorful animations but they still have that direct-to-video look and feel. Same goes for the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks, since they work well with the music and songs but nothing like the epic feeling you get from audio track on “The Little Mermaid” Blu-ray release.

Even though the films are direct-to-video, they still have some decent special features but nothing amazing.  For “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea”, we get a “Storybook: Read To You By Jodi Benson – The Voice Of Ariel”. There is a deleted song included called. “Gonna Get My Wish”. Lastly there is a classic animated short “Merbabies”. For “The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning”, we get “Splashdance: A Dancer’s Adventures Under The Sea”, 2 Deleted Scenes, 4 Sing-Along Songs and “Mermaid Discovery Vanity Game” (which is only available on the DVD disc).

3D Blu-ray Review “The Little Mermaid: Diamond Edition”

Actors: Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Rene Auberjonois, Pat Carroll, Paddi Edwards
Directors: John Musker, Ron Clements
Number of discs: 3
Rated: G (General Audience)
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
3D: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Little Mermaid” is one my favorite Disney films of all time. I remember the very first time I saw it dating back to 1989. Crazy that it is nearly 25 years old. The film has so many amazing song and will have you singing along whether you have seen the film yesterday or 20 years ago. The film was the winner of two Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score and Original Song (“Under The Sea”). My daughter, who is 15 months old, loves Ariel and we got to introduce her to this film for the very first time. Let me tell you, she didn’t even turn her head once from the screen and did I mention she is 15 months old. Parents will understand what I mean by this. Disney really sprinkled some magic onto this release to deliver this film finally on Blu-ray with an amazing presentation. Now if we can just get “Aladdin” to Blu-ray, I will be complete.

Official Premise: Free-spirited mermaid Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) sets off on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend, the adorable Flounder (Jason Marin) and a reggae-singing Caribbean crab named Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright) at her side. But it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true, and to save her father Triton’s (Kenneth Mars) beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula (Pat Carroll).

The film’s voice cast is so amazing Jodi Benson is just perfect as Ariel, here voice is what a princess should sound like. Cute and magical. Is it bad that I also still have a crush on Ariel after nearly 25 years 😉 Samuel E. Wright really gives life to Sebastian and is so much fun. Also Buddy Hackett is a shear blast voicing one of my favs Scuttle. Zut alors, I have missed one! We can’t forget Rene Auberjonois’ amazing take with Chef Louis.

Disney did not cheap out with this new Diamond Edition Blu-ray. The film included two Blu-ray’s, one 3D and the other 2D. There is a DVD copy of the film, along with a digital copy, which can be redeemed on Ultraviolet streaming sites. Note, you will also receive a $5.00 DisneyStore.com gift card if you redeem the digital copy, which is a no brainer. Besides all that there is still more since there is an exclusive 10 song digital download including Carly Rae Jepsen’s new take on “Part of Your World”. So to me this release definitely screams Diamond Edition.

Let’s get to the 3D aspect of the film now. Obviously, this film was never made in 3D but with the recent hit of films like “The Lion King”, Disney would be stupid not to cash in. I have to admit, I really loved this film in 3D. I thought that it just felt so deeper, maybe it was the water, but it really expanded this undersea world. The action scenes were amazing including (my favorite) the shark chase and the final confrontation. But of course what is even better is that the film also looks stunning on 2D Blu-ray as well. Disney really delivered a solid 108p presentation here, along with an amazing (not stunning) DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track. The music plays so well and has never sounded better.

In terms of special features, there is not a whole lot new here but it still includes some solid extras. There is the All-New Music Video for Carly Rae Jepsen’s new take on “Part of Your World”. “The Real Little Mermaid: Live Action Reference Model” looks into finding the look for Ariel. “Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage To New Fantasyland” is a trip with the voice behind Ariel to explore Walt Disney World’s latest attraction. Other extras include “Howard’s Lecture”, “@ Disney Animation”, “Deleted Character” and some Classic DVD Bonus Features. Lastly I was a big fan of “Disney Intermission”, which is an interactive sing-along for these classics and timeless songs.

Theatre Review “The Little Mermaid: The Musical” Starlight Theater – Kansas City, MO

The Little Mermaid The Musical
Starlight Theater
Kansas City, Missouri
July 23, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Any time you’re hoping to replicate the success of a Disney production, you’re going to be automatically met with how well you stack up against the original. Even with a hazy memory of how the story to “The Little Mermaid” went, I still had a fairly good idea what to expect and I’m glad to report that not only does this Broadway-style production stays true to the 1989 classic, it is a delight to watch.

For those readers whose memory may be equally fuzzy, let me catch you up to speed. Ariel (Jessica Grove) is a mermaid and also the youngest daughter of King Triton (Edward Watts). Much to his dismay, she constantly visits the ocean’s surface and dreams of not only walking on the shore but living on dry land with the other humans. It doesn’t help when she rescues and falls in love with a Prince Eric (Nick Adams). Anymore information and I will have ruined the first half for those of you who haven’t seen the 1989 film or read the children’s story by Hans Christian Andersen.

The show gets off to a slow start with a song written for the production, but kicks into gear with the song everyone should know, “Part of Your World”. Grove is definitely talented and easily hits the high notes in the song. In fact everyone in the show is well cast in their roles. Still there are some low moments. The film’s most popular song, “Under the Sea”, doesn’t feel as epic or magical as it should in my opinion. My memory may have been blurry but I distinctly remember that song. I will add, in the show’s defense, that I’m sure it’s hard to create a sea alive with song and dance on stage. You could say it’s a tad villainous, but Ursula (Liz McCartney) almost steals the show. Any time she’s on stage, her presence is definitely felt and McCartney really belts out the lyrics in grand style, especially during the songs “Daddy’s Little Angel” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls”.

Major props to the men and women behind the scenes of this production. To add to the effect that they’re underwater and swimming the cast is literally whisked into the air and across the stage. One man who certainly deserves a lot of credit is John MacInnis, who choreographed the show. One of the best instances of perfectly matched movements is during “Sweet Child” when the eels, Flotsam and Jetsam (Scott Leiendecker and Sean Patrick Doyle), move as one entity. Though “The Little Mermaid” lacks a lot of big dance numbers, one thing that really impressed me was watching the the actors constantly “swimming” in place, even when they don’t speak a single word during the scene. On the negative side, someone should send a note to the sound guy. Often times the music was much louder than the singing and I often saw parents covering their children’s ears because of how loud the volume was. I even found myself wincing at the volume a couple of times.

I haven’t seen the animated film in almost 20 years but I may have to after seeing this show. There may be a few things from the film that the production didn’t do justice, but I can guarantee there are plenty they triumphed on. The cast of “The Little Mermaid” should be proud they did the original justice while creating new memories for children of all ages.

This production runs at Starlight Theater until July 28th. For tickets visit www.kcstarlight.com

Meet Pat Carroll, the Voice of Ursula from “The Little Mermaid” at Spooky Empire’s May-Hem!

Who loves Ursula in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”? Well now you can meet the woman behind the voice, Pat Carroll at Spooky Empire’s May-Hem this May in Orlando, FL! She is also known for playing Shirley Feeney’s mother on the TV series “Laverne & Shirley”. Personally Ursula was and still is one of the baddest baddies in animated films today.

Pat has given her voice in other medium’s such as the “Kingdom Hearts” video game series, the Fantasmic! show at two Disney theme parks, as well as various parades. Fun fact, she also voiced Ursula’s sister Morgana in “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea”.

Besides “The Little Mermaid”, Pat has done a tons of voice-over work including “A Pup Named Scooby Doo”, “A Goofy Movie” and “Pound Puppies”. This is a rare appearance for Pat to get out and meet her fans. So be sure not to miss this opportunity to meet one of the great Disney villains.