The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning
|The Little Mermaid:|
|Directed by||Peggy Holmes|
|Produced by||Kendra Halland|
|Music by||James Dooley|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment|
The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (also known as The Little Mermaid III) is a 2008 American animated direct-to-video fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Television Animation and DisneyToon Studios, and a prequel to Disney's 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid. Directed by Peggy Holmes, the film's story is set before the events of the original film, when Ariel is still young, and where all music has been banned from the underwater kingdom of Atlantica by King Triton, and Ariel attempts to challenge this law. Jodi Benson and Samuel E. Wright reprise their roles as Ariel and Sebastian respectively, while Sally Field voices the film's new villain, Marina Del Rey, and Jim Cummings replaces Kenneth Mars as King Triton, as Mars had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was unable to reprise the role. The film was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on August 26, 2008. The film contradicts certain events of the television series, implying that it is an independent installment of Disney's The Little Mermaid franchise.
King Triton and his wife, Queen Athena, rule over the underwater kingdom of Atlantica, filled with music and laughter. They have seven young daughters: Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, Alana, and the youngest of whom is Ariel. One day, while the merpeople relax in a lagoon above water, Triton gives Athena a music box. However, a pirate ship approaches. Everyone escapes except Athena, who is killed by the ship when she tries to recover the music box. Devastated by his wife's death, Triton throws the music box away, and music is banned from Atlantica, forever.
Ten years later, Ariel and her sisters live under a strict routine maintained by their governess, Marina Del Rey and her assistant, Benjamin. Marina hates being the girls' governess and longs to be Triton's attaché, a job currently filled by Sebastian the crab. Ariel is frustrated by their current lifestyle, which brings her into arguments with her father. One day, Ariel encounters Flounder, a young fish whom she later follows to an underground music club. She is overjoyed by the presence of music, and is shocked when she sees Sebastian performing there. When her presence is revealed, the entire band stops playing and hides, believing Ariel will tell her father about them. Ariel sings a song explaining her love of music and the remembrance of her mother, and she joins the club with an oath.
Ariel returns to the palace, and her sisters confront her over her disappearance. She explains where she was, and the following night the girls go to the club to have fun. Marina finds them and she later reports their activities to Triton, who destroys the club with his trident. Sebastian, Flounder, and the band are sent to prison, while Marina gets the job she wants. Triton confines his daughters to the palace and Ariel says that her mother would not have wanted music forbidden. She swims to the bedroom, with her sisters following, and everyone is not happy, but Marina is happy. That night, Ariel frees her friends and leaves Atlantica. Sebastian leads them to a deserted place far away from the palace where Ariel finds Athena's music box, as Sebastian hoped. In the kingdom, Marina happily talks to Triton about her new job, but after Ariel has left, but one of her sisters, telling Triton that Ariel is not in Atlantica, while Triton orders his guards to find Ariel, angering Marina. In her lair, Marina tells Benjamin that she releases her electric eels from the dungeon. Marina is about to finish the job to have Sebastian killed and Ariel eliminated from the palace. Ariel, Flounder, and Sebastian decide to return to Atlantica to bring the music box to Triton, hoping that it will change his mind, as he has not remembered how to be happy after Athena died.
On the way back, they are confronted by Marina and her eels. Before music is restored back into Atlantica, the final battle begins when Ariel is banned from Atlantica by Marina. Marina wants to stop them so she will retain her position of power, and a struggle ensues. Flounder and Ariel are rescued from Marina's electric eels by the band. While Triton arrives in time seeing that Ariel has helped the band defeat the eels by having them tangle themselves. Marina barrels towards Sebastian and tries to kill him, but Ariel pushes her away, getting hit in the process. Triton witnesses the incident and blames himself. He sings the lyrics of "Athena's Song", and Ariel recovers. Triton apologizes to Ariel for not listening to her and sends her home to the palace before he orders his guards to place Marina under arrest. And on the next day, thanks to Ariel, Triton restores music to Atlantica and appoints Sebastian as Atlantica's first official court composer, much to everyone's delight. Everyone, including Ariel and her sisters and their friends Flounder and Sebastian, rejoices except Marina who is sent to jail.
- Jodi Benson as Ariel
- Samuel E. Wright as Sebastian
- Jim Cummings as King Triton and Shelbow
- Sally Field as Marina Del Rey
- Parker Goris as Flounder
- Tara Strong as Adella and Andrina
- Jennifer Hale as Alana
- Grey DeLisle as Aquata and Arista
- Kari Wahlgren as Attina
- Jeff Bennett as Benjamin the manatee and the Swordfish Guards
- Andrea Robinson as Queen Athena (singing voice)
- Lorelei Hill Butters as Queen Athena (speaking voice)
- Rob Paulsen as Ink Spot the octopus and Swifty the shrimp
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Cheeks the blowfish and Ray-Ray the manta ray
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The film's working title was The Little Mermaid III, and it was originally scheduled for a mid-2007 release. When John Lasseter took over Disney Animation, more resources were spent on completing Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, and attention only returned to this film in July 2006 after the wrap up of Cinderella III.
A teaser trailer and musical preview of the film (an alternate version of "Jump in the Line") were attached to the Platinum Edition DVD of The Little Mermaid, which was released in October 2006. At the time, the working title The Little Mermaid III was still being used.
The score to the film was composed by James Dooley, who recorded the score with a 72-piece ensemble of the Hollywood Studio Symphony, as well as a big band, at the Sony Scoring Stage. The film features new songs written by Jeanine Tesori, along with covers of previously recorded calypso songs that were arranged by Dooley. No soundtrack has been released yet for the film.
The songs featured in the film are:
- "Athena's Song" - Performed by Andrea Robinson (Queen Athena)
- "Just One Mistake" - Performed by Sally Field (Marina Del Rey)
- "I Remember" - Performed by Jodi Benson (Ariel)
- "Jump in the Line (Shake, Shake, Shake, Señora)" - Performed by Samuel E. Wright (Sebastian) and chorus
- "Jump In The Line" (Shake, Shake, Shake, Senora) A cappella version - Performed by Parker Goris (Flounder), Samuel E. Wright (Sebastian), Jodi Benson (Ariel) and chorus
- "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" (instrumental only)
- "Just One Mistake" (reprise) - Performed by Sally Field (Marina Del Rey)
- "I Will Sing" - Performed by Jeannette Bayardelle
The film was released on Region 1 DVD in the United States on August 26, 2008, and on Region 2 DVD in the United Kingdom and Europe on September 22, 2008. The DVD contains special features including deleted scenes, a production featurette hosted by the director, games and activities, and a featurette hosted by Sierra Boggess (who played Ariel on Broadway) about the Broadway musical.
On December 16, 2008, the film was released in a "The Little Mermaid Trilogy" boxed set that includes The Little Mermaid (Platinum Edition) and The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. On November 19, 2013, it was released on Blu-ray as a 2-movie collection alongside the sequel.
The DVD became the top-selling DVD for the week ending August 31, selling 980,237 copies. Reviews of the film from audiences were largely positive, though the film received mixed to negative reviews from critics (33% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 6 reviews). The new villain, Marina Del Rey, has been criticized as being a poor follow-up to Ursula. The animation quality of the film has been praised as being "impressive" for a direct-to-video and comparable to that of the original film. A mildly negative review has described that in the film "goofiness often gets buried too often underneath a blah story that's much too run-of-the-mill to allow the emotional oomph of the characters' plights to truly impact". The music has also been criticized as being unmemorable, with one review stating that "to label this a musical would be false advertising".
Censorship in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the word "spastic" was cut from an interactive game in the extra features of the DVD and Blu-Ray releases by the BBFC to achieve a "U" rating. An uncut version was available rated "12".
The word however appears uncensored in all versions of the full-length feature.
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