The Little Mermaid (2023) – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (Best Buy Exclusive Steelbook) Review

Mark Pacis

The Little Mermaid

Over the past few years, Walt Disney Studios has focused on adapting their beloved animated movies to live-action. So far, the results have been a mixed bag. Films such as Cinderella or Alice in Wonderland have hit it out of the park—creating a fresh look at the original while keeping the spirit that makes the original beloved. On the other hand, there are films like Pinocchio or Beauty and the Beast where it doesn’t capture the essence of what made the original a classic. Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid falls in the former. The live-action adaptation expands on critical characters and the worlds they inhabit. In the end, The Little Mermaid is an entirely fresh adaptation.

First, David Magee’s script expands on Prince Eric’s story. Also, it fleshes out the romantic relationship between Ariel and Eric. This movie isn’t a simplified version of Romeo and Juliet anymore. Instead, we learn more about Ariel and Eric’s passions for each other’s worlds—building a solid foundation for their relationship. As their connection grows, so does their relationship. It’s one of the best changes made from the original animated film.

Also, as all Rob Marshall musicals go, The Little Mermaid feels like a stage musical film from the olden days. Although most of the film is computer-generated, Marshall directs it like a theatre stage production. Nevertheless, the computer-generated imagery is questionable at best. Some of the scenes look great, but there are several sequences where the CGI looks off. Plus, the realistic rendering of Ariel’s sea friends has a similar problem to what The Lion King went through. The creatures look lifeless and are too real for this fantastical world.

Overall, The Little Mermaid is one of the best live-action adaptations Walt Disney Studios has yet done. That’s not saying much, but it is still an accomplishment. Despite several flaws, the movie is still a fresh adaptation that enriches every aspect of the film compared to the original.

Movie Review: 3.5/5 atoms

The Little Mermaid - Javier Bardem

The Little Mermaid hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, HDR10 presentation with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The picture features substantial shadow details, zero crush, and vibrant highlights with no bloom. As you. can imagine, this Ultra HD release is a vividly colorful presentation showcasing your television’s comprehensive color capabilities. Overall, it’s bold and bright—especially the undersea kingdom palette, which leaps off the screen. The details in facial features and practical effects also look gorgeous.

Video Review: 5/5 atoms

The Little Mermaid - Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King

The Little Mermaid hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos or a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio presentation if Atmos is not supported. This review will cover the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos mix. The Dolby Atmos mix for The Little Mermaid is good, but it depends on the scene. The busier the scene, the better. So, scenes like Ariel swimming around within the corals or the big storm are perfect examples of fully immersive scenes. However, the track won’t be fully immersive if there’s little activity or only a single character on screen. Thankfully, the musical sequences and score nicely expand into the surround channels and heights. The overhead channels aren’t prevalent throughout but expand on the soundstage when a scene calls for it. Atmospherics are plentiful and immensely satisfying in the rear and overhead channels. Dialogue is rendered cleanly and throughout.

Audio Review: 5/5 atoms

The Little Mermaid - Melissa McCarthy
Special Features

The Little Mermaid doesn’t have any bonus features on the Ultra HD disc. However, the following bonus features can be found on the HD Blu-ray disc:

  • Sing-Along Version
  • Hotter Under Water
    • A Tale of the Bottomless Blue
    • I Know Something’s Starting Right Now
    • Down Where It’s Wetter
    • Explore That Shore Up Above
    • Do What The Music Say
  • Song Breakdowns
    • Wild Uncharted Waters
    • Under The Sea
    • Kiss The Girl
    • Poor Unfortunate Souls
  • The Scuttlebutt on Sidekicks
  • Passing The Dingle Hopper
  • Bloopers
Features Assessment

Hotter Under Water is a decently informative five-part featurette that covers the most challenging aspects of creating The Little Mermaid for live-action. From finding the right actors to play these iconic roles to the look and feel of the two kingdoms, it takes a look at several topics in 26 minutes. Song Breakdowns looks at the exploration of four of the most significant musical sequences in the film. They look at the creation of new songs, the challenges of interpreting the classics for a new generation of kids, and much more.

Scuttlebutt on Sidekicks looks at Ariel’s most loyal sidekick friends, Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle. In this seven-minute featurette, you’ll discover how their roles expanded from the original and typical things like what went behind their designs and more. Passing the Dinglehopper is a sweet feature where the original voice of Ariel, Jodi Benson, meets with the live-action version, Halle Bailey. Finally, there’s the bloopers, which is always a fun feature to watch.

The Little Mermaid also comes with a Best Buy exclusive steelbook featuring artwork wrapped with Ariel in the front and Prince Eric’s kingdom on the back. On the inside, you’ll see Sebastian on the left talking to Scuttle on the right.

Special Features Review: 2.5/5 atoms

Overall, The Little Mermaid is one of Walt Disney Studios’ best live-action remakes. The video and audio presentations are spectacular, but unfortunately, the bonus features are a bit lacking.

Overall Review: 4/5 atoms

The Little Mermaid is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was provided by Walt Disney Home Entertainment for review purposes.