Little Mermaid, The 40th Anniversary Edition 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 238, April 2019

WSR Score4.5
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Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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John Musker & Ron Clements
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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"The Little Mermaiid" is based on Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale about a beautiful mermaid princess who dreams of becoming human. This is the 40th Anniversary Signature Edition in the 4K Ultra HD format, (Gary Reber)

Special features include the new featurettes: "Alan Menken & The Leading Ladies Song" (HD 15:45), "What I Want From You...Is YOUR VOICE" (HD 05:47), "Stories From Walt's Office––Gadgets & Gizmos" (HD 06:01) and "Treasures Untold" (HD 05:40); The DCapella "Part Of Your World" music video (HD 03:01); classic bonus features: "Deleted Character: Harold The Merman" SD 02:05), "Under The Scene: The Art Of Live Action Reference" (SD 13:13) and "Howard's Lecture" (SD 16:27); original commentary with Ron Clements, John Musker and Alan Menken; upfront previews; and a Movies Anywhere digital code.

The 1.78:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, is animation and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. The animated picture boasts a color palette that exhibits solid tones and color depth. The wider color gamut delivers exacting color nuances. Hues are warm and visually satisfying. Whites are crisp, blues deep, and reds dominant. HDR contrast is excellent with solid blacks and contrasting mid-tones and highlights. Resolution is solid with excellent clarity and textural definition, most notable in Ariel's waving hair and hair line roots. The imagery exhibits a pleasing and complimentary grain structure. The source appears pristine with no artifacts of note. This is a wonderful restoration of a beloved Disney classic that will thrill fans. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack features an active music score that throughout casts a very wide frontal soundstage with an aggressive presence in the four surrounds and the height layer. ADR dialogue is perfectly intelligible and when mermaids or others sing, the voices are spread and directionalized. Bass never sounds hyped but natural throughout. A hurricane is reproduced with the cracking thunder and pounding rain resulting is storm waves crashing against a ship. Foley is superb with convincing realism. Foley effects are directionalized and panned within the soundfield. Surround envelopment extends aggressively to the four surround channels with the music and sound effects.

The Immersive Sound element consists of very aggressive orchestral music and singing, along with water bubbling sounds, aggressive sound effects, Foley sound effects, occasional off-screen dialogue, water splashes, Ariel's singing reverberation, thunder and rain, storm waves, birds chirping, horse gallops, glass breaking, Ursula's voice and other effects.

This is a satisfying rendering of a holosonic® spherical surround experience that delivers a whole new dimension to this Disney classic. (Gary Reber)