So what constitutes a guilty pleasure? It’s a film that I like for personal reasons, and thus, probably have watched more than I should have.
Okay, let’s get something straight before starting: this is not another Step Up 2 guilty pleasure where I like the movie for the physical attractiveness of its female lead. I think I’ve made it clear in my The Little Mermaid full review how attracted I am to the impossibly thin-waisted, uncontainable red-head mermaid of King Triton whose voice is brought to life by Jodi Benson, but my disgust for The Little Mermaid 2 is as equally well-documented here on my blog. Clearly, drawing a couple thousand frames of Ariel isn’t enough for me–I want to watch Ariel animated by the likes of Glen Keane and, most importantly, written by directors Ron Clements and John Musker. In other words, I loved Ariel in The Little Mermaid not because she sang like an angel or was animated by a god, but because of her personality.
Ariel’s personality is back in The Little Mermaid 3, and that is enough for me to recommend this to The Little Mermaid fans. However, the loss of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman is even more noticeable than in The Little Mermaid 2 as once again, Jodi Benson’s immense talent goes to waste. More importantly, the film’s decision to change the music from Caribbean/Jamaican to Mexican/South American is truly mind-boggling; didn’t we all love the music of The Little Mermaid? The last major complaint, and these are actually big problems in the film, is the animation. The rendering of Ariel is not bad, but it’s almost… impersonal. It should be known that Disney sequels are not produced in the same studio of their classics, and its pretty apparent these cash-grab sequels are taking a lot of shortcuts via computers. So maybe it should be embarrassingly said that every instance of pure computer CGI is blatantly obvious in a really bad way. Ariel looks pretty, but in a sterile way. I can’t sense the pencil marks, the colors are somehow dulled, and even the bubbles seem manufactured out of a factory. Oh, how I miss classic Disney hand-animation.
Interestingly enough, these Disney sequels are taking my suggestions. In my The Lion King five-part review, I complained about how combining the hyenas with the lions didn’t seem like a bad thing at all, and this was fixed in The Lion King 2. In my The Little Mermaid full review, I complained about how we didn’t know King Triton’s motivations for acting the way he was towards humans. This is fixed in The Little Mermaid 3 through the death of his wife, which is actually the exact course of action I recommended. So it seems like this movie should be better than The Little Mermaid, but the problem is, the sequel has nowhere to go after the death of Ariel’s mother. King Triton learns to accept humans in The Little Mermaid, so they couldn’t have made the logical plot move here. Instead, they make the focus on bringing music back to the kingdom, and I think this may have worked if the music was suburb, showing the void in joy King Triton’s rule is bringing to his kingdom, but once again, the music is a dud.
Nonetheless, Ariel and her personality is the catalyst for this change. In this regard, the film seems a little too familiar, but its a welcomed familiarity since it worked so well in the first movie. I really can’t offer many more compliments besides bringing back Ariel, and it’s amazing what having a strong lead will do to negate other problematic elements. There are also some added perks with Ariel’s sisters, whom actually get developed (as much as they reasonably can) and add much needed energy and comedy to the film. Then I think to myself, maybe this sequel is doing its job by showing us relevant details that explain King Triton’s hatred for humans. Maybe this sequel fully redeems itself by allowing us to spend more time with Ariel. Maybe I am justified for liking this…