The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea (2000)

“To protect her from a sea witch, Ariel’s daughter is not allowed in the ocean; but when she becomes 12, she runs away to an adventure under the sea.”

– Anonymous, IMDB.

A Direct-to-video sequel to the 1989 animated Film, The Little Mermaid 2 currently holds a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jodi Benson returns to voice Ariel, and Tara Strong joins the cast to voice Melody, Ariel’s daughter. Other notable voice actors include Cam Clarke (Voicing Flounder) and Rob Paulson (Voicing Prince Eric). Pat Carroll, who previously voiced Ursula, returns to voice Ursula’s sister Morgana.

Some thoughts from me (Potential spoilers below)…
The Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea feels pretty similar to the original film. Instead of a rebellious daughter wanting to live on the land, it’s a rebellious daughter wanting to live under the sea. Things aren’t really helped by Pat Carroll returning to voice Ursula’s sister Morgana, who fills the exact same role as Ursula did. Not only is she playing the villain, but like Ursula she is also the one who makes a deal with the protagonist, in this case turning Melody into a mermaid in exchange for Melody bringing her King Triton’s trident. Altogether, I feel like it it gives the movie much more of a cash-in vibe compared to some of the other Disney sequels.

I appreciate that they decided to introduce us to Melody, Ariel’s daughter. Just the fact that they shook up the established Disney canon a bit by making Ariel a mother gives this movie some bonus points in my eyes (Cartoons always seem to avoid giving characters kids, hence how everyone seems to have nephews/nieces). Now that said, I feel like Melody doesn’t really stand out to me. I think I relate to her a lot more before she goes on her adventure, as we see her having to deal with being an awkward, isolated young girl who doesn’t really suit the Princess role (Which she herself is painfully aware of). Once she’s off on her adventure though, those traits seem to fade into the background for a good chunk of the movie.

Going back to the idea of Ariel as a mother, I find it interesting that we get to see Ariel in the position that her Father was previously. Ariel makes the same mistake that her father did; in trying to keep her daughter safe she ends up pushing her away. I kinda wish the film gave itself some time to explore Melody and Ariel’s relationship, but I think that might be asking a bit much from a direct-to-video Disney sequel.

Appearance wise, I think this is probably the worst looking Disney sequel I’ve seen so far. It’s still decent, but every so often there’s a really badly drawn bit of animation that stands out a great deal. There’s also a weird lighting effect they try and give the characters, which I’m sure was supposed to add dimension to them, but instead it tends to have the opposite effect of flattening them.

As a random aside, while I watched this movie many times as a kid I never saw the ending to it until I was an adult and randomly came across a copy of the film in a gas station bargain bin. My uncle would put this movie on for me when my family came to visit him, but we’d always leave before it was over. I was too short to reach the VCR on top of the TV (And too stupid to ask him to fast forward through the parts I had already seen). While the ending isn’t worth the wait, it was somewhat cathartic to finally see this thing through to it’s conclusion.

All that said, feel free to take a look at this one! It’s not the greatest, nor is it the worst, but it’s definitely entertaining to see just what the infamous Disney direct-to-video sequels are actually like. 

References

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