Monday, November 10, 2008

The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (2008)

Disney's got a definite thing going on with sequels and prequels and companion movies. We've seen it time and time again, although come to think of it, I haven't seen a sequel to "Snow White" yet. I say, it's only a matter of time.

While most of the prequels and sequels and other kinds of "quels" are usually somewhat stupid, I must say, I did enjoy "The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning." Not as much as I liked the original film, but it was pretty decent.

We know from "The Little Mermaid" that Ariel's mother is dead, but we don't know how that came to be. In "Ariel's Beginning," we go back in time to Ariel's childhood, when her mother was still alive. Her mother, Athena, looked remarkably like Ariel herself, and she loved to sing. The entire kingdom of Atlantica was filled with music, and life in the palace was full of joy and love.

But when a pirate ship unexpectedly sails through the cove where the merfolk had gathered for a celebration, Athena disappeared, and King Triton was heartbroken. He hated anything that reminded him of what he had lost, and so he banned music from the kingdom. His routine became very regimented and he spent less and less time with his daughters, taking a walk with them each morning and then dismissing them for the rest of the day into the care of their power-hungry governess, Marina del Ray.

Marina wants Sebastian's job, and she'll do whatever it takes to discredit him so she can move up in ranks. All she needs is one little chink in his armor (no pun intended, but he is a crustacean, after all) and she'll be able to roust him out of his position of favor with the king.

Ariel unknowingly helps Marina in her plan. While following her new friend, Flounder, as he darts suspiciously from rock to rock, she discovers a jazz club deep in the waters of the ocean. Those fish really know how to blow, and to her surprise, Sebastian is the headliner at the club. Ariel is immediately intrigued by this stuff called music and joins the club, but word gets back to Marina, who knows she's found what she needs to throw Sebastian out of the palace for good.

Ariel must find a way to remind her father of the importance of music. It's not just about sounds made by instruments, but about joy and laughter. Most of all, it's about love, and when she helps him remember all the love they once shared as a family, she helps bring peace back into their home and into the king's heart.

There is a little mild peril in this G-rated film, but nothing too over-the-top. You can only see this movie by renting it or purchasing it - it was not released in the theaters.

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