The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (also titled as its working title, The Little Mermaid III) is a 2008 American animated direct-to-video fantasy film produced by DisneyToon Studios, and a prequel to the Disney animated film The Little Mermaid and the third and final installment in The Little Mermaid trilogy and the first in the chronology of the story running through the series. The film was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on August 26, 2008.
A grief-stricken King Triton outlaws music in the wake of the death of his wife, Athena. When Flounder discovers that the irrepressible Sebastian has been singing at an illegal undersea speakeasy in defiance of the king's decree, Ariel struggles to sneak out without getting caught by the royal court's maniacal nanny, Marina Del Rey.
Why It Sucks
- This prequel to The Little Mermaid is very unnecessary, since it does not explain anything from the first film, aside from what happened to the mother and how Ariel and Flounder met; even the latter did not to be explained, as the viewer can easily infer from the first film that they have been close friends for at least some time.
- Continuity error: In the original it is inferable from the lyrics of the song "Daughters of Triton" that their birth order started from Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, and Alana, and ended with Ariel; here, the birth order is different.
- The premise of music being banned in Atlantica is a rehash of Footloose.
- Ariel's motives feel weak, as she wants to bring music back to Atlantica... all because she is just bored of everything.
- At times, the film lacks subtlety when it comes to rubbing into the viewer's face that Marina absolutely hates her job by having her explicitly say so, when it was already implied within the film.
- Very poor editing in specific scenes, with Athena's death being done in a very awkward edit which was done for some reason instead of simply cutting to a black screen, and there being an overuse of a specific cringe-worthy visual effect which would make the human brain feel weird and a bit dizzy upon seeing it in the "Jump in the Line" scene.
- There are barely any new songs, in a film in The Little Mermaid franchise, with some of them being slightly reworked versions of famous conga songs such as "Jump in the Line".
- There is a really pointless subplot of one of Ariel's sisters wanting to... kiss a boy.
- While the animation is very impressive and stays mostly true to the look of the first film, the visuals of the music box, which appear to be computer-animated, feel rather out-of-place in a traditionally-animated film.
- Flounder acts very inconsistent with the way he is portrayed in the first film, as he is now rebellious and all about jamming to music; he is also a little annoying in this film.
- On top of that, his new voice actor, Parker Goris, barely sounds anything like his voice actor in the original film.
- Marina Del Rey is a weak antagonist who has weak motives and a weak personality and feels like an inferior version of Yzma from The Emperor's New Groove.
- While nice, the cameo of Scuttle comes across as unnecessary.
- All of Ariel's sisters from the first film return and are given larger roles and unique personalities, and all of them are utilized well.
- As stated earlier, just like with many of the other DisneyToons animated productions, the animation is impressive and stays mostly true to the look of the first film, and its animation quality is a massive improvement over the previous sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.
- Despite her motives being weak, Ariel is a much more relatable character than ever.
- The voice performance is decent, thanks to Jodi Benson and Samuel E. Wright reprise their roles as Ariel and Sebastian.
- We get a somewhat decent backstory to how Ariel’s mother died.
- Kenneth Mars, King Triton's original voice actor, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during production of this film and thus could not reprise his role as King Triton in this film, hence Jim Cummings took over as the voice of the character (MODERATOR'S NOTE: There needs to be a legitimate, reliable source for this explanation as to why Mars couldn't reprise his role as Triton; no, its Wikipedia article does not count, it does not have a source for that, either). Mars passed away on February 12, 2011, at the age of 75.
- It was originally planned to make Ariel more "contemporary" during the development of this prequel; however, voice actress Jodi Benson fought to have Ariel retain her characteristic rebelliousness (MODERATOR'S NOTE: There also needs to be a legitimate, reliable source for this, too).
- This film is notable as the final DisneyToons Studios-produced direct-to-video film based on a film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, following the decision from John Lasseter, then Chief Creative Officer of the Disney feature animation department, to put an end to the production of Disney direct-to-video sequels in 2007, resulting in the cancellation of Chicken Little 2, The Aristocats 2 and Dumbo 2.
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning received negative reviews with criticism aimed at the script and the music score, but the animation quality and voice performances were praised.