4K/Blu-Ray Review: Disney’s Live-Action “The Little Mermaid” Includes Impressive Behind-the-Scenes Bonus Features

Inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale and 1989 Disney animated classic, Rob Marshall (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Into the Woods, Mary Poppins Returns) updates The Little Mermaid for a new generation of kids. Having made a splash at the summer box office, the blockbuster arrives on 4K-Ultra-HD, Blu-Ray, and DVD on Tuesday, September 19th, so that it can be cherished for years to come. And as you’d expect, it packs in a grotto’s worth of extras to give fans a look at how the magic was made.



Ariel (Halle Bailey) is the youngest daughter of King Triton (Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men) and is destined to rule the seventh sea alongside her six sisters. But her real passion lies above the surface, consulting with her friend Scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina, Raya and the Last Dragon) about her sunken treasure finds and housing them in her grotto with the help of her friend Flounder (voiced by Jacob Tremblay, Luca). After rescuing Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King, A Dog’s Way Home) from a shipwreck, King Triton finds Ariel’s shrine to the human world and forbids his daughter from pursuing her passions. So when her banished aunt Ursula (Melissa McCarthy, Gilmore Girls) offers her the chance to trade her voice for three days on land, Ariel takes it. Followed by her father’s majordomo Sebastian (voiced by Daveed Diggs, Hamilton), Ariel must overcome Ursula’s sneaky treachery if she is to make her dream of becoming a human permanent.

Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s Oscar-winning music comes to life in a new way in the film, joined by three new songs with lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana, Hamilton). Part of the fun of this release is the option to enjoy the film in sing-along mode, plus breakdowns of four songs to see how they were updated and filmed. But for diehard fans of Disney animation, an extra called “Passing The Dinglehopper” is one of the big highlights, a look at Jodi Benson’s cameo in the film and how she passes Ariel’s torch to Halle Bailey.

Bonus Features

  • Hotter Under The Water (26:15) – Discover how director Rob Marshall and his team brought the story of The Little Mermaid to life with this documentary in five chapters:
    • A Tale Of The Bottomless Blue (2:31) – Join Rob Marshall on the set of one of the most ambitious and challenging films he's ever directed.
    • I Know Something’s Starting Right Now (3:07) – Join cast members Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King and more and learn how they were cast in the film and what it was like to bring director Rob Marshall's vision to life.
    • Down Where It’s Wetter (7:12) – Dip your toes into the virtual ocean and learn about how the breathtaking underwater world was created with visual effects, imagination and a lot of talented artists.
    • Explore That Shore Up Above (6:09) – From Prince Eric’s castle to the beach, explore the above-the-sea locations and the elaborate production design behind them.
    • Do What The Music Say (7:20) – Discover how legendary composer Alan Menken teamed up with Lin-Manuel Miranda to write new songs to accompany the original classics
  • Song Breakdowns
    • Wild Unchartered Waters (4:17) – Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King, gets his own song, written by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Go behind the song, from the writing to the recording, to the filming on a practical ship.
    • Under the Sea (5:18) – Get a first-hand look at how professional dancers helped bring director Rob Marshall's vision to life as they stood in for the various animated sea creatures that sing and dance in this showstopping number.
    • Kiss The Girl (6:03) – Float along and get a frog's-eye view of the beautiful set built to film the live-action version of this classic song.
    • Poor Unfortunate Souls (6:41) – Join Melissa McCarthy (Ursula) as she takes us on the journey of making her character's signature song.
  • The Scuttlebutt On Sidekicks (6:49) – Dive in and meet Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle, who not only have their own song, "The Scuttlebutt," but also fresh looks as they work hard to make sure Ariel and Eric kiss before Ursula's deadline.
  • Passing The Dinglehopper (3:56) – Ariel met Ariel when Halle Bailey worked with Jodi Benson — the voice of Ariel in the original animated movie — who appears in a clever cameo in the live-action film..
  • Bloopers (2:00) – Laugh along with the cast as they have the time of their lives making The Little Mermaid.
  • Song Selection
    • “Part of Your World” (3:30)
    • “Fathoms Below” (1:25)
    • “Part of Your World (Reprise 1)” (2:24)
    • “Under the Sea” (4:06)
    • “Wild Uncharted Waters” (3:01)
    • “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (5:19)
    • “For the First Time” (4:02)
    • “Kiss the Girl” (4:19)
    • “The Scuttlebut” (2:04)
    • “Part of Your World (Reprise 2)” (1:10)
  • Sing Along Version (2:15:14) – Sing along with your favorite songs while watching the movie with on-screen lyrics.

The home video release of The Little Mermaid is missing the deleted song “Impossible Child.” As of the time of this writing, that bonus feature appears to be a Disney+ exclusive (accessible through the “Extras” section of the film).


The Little Mermaid comes home in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The 4K UHD transfer adds a tremendous amount of background detail to Ariel’s underwater world and also improves on the dynamic colors. Sequences with bioluminescence really pop off the screen compared to the included Blu-Ray transfer, which also looks excellent in 1080p.


The primary mix on the 4K Ultra-HD disc is an English Dolby Atmos release. It’s an immersive mix, primarily adding ocean sounds and score to the rear speakers. Being a family-friendly film, the mix doesn’t get too loud or scary during the Ursula battle scenes. The 4K disc also includes 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus tracks in French, Spanish, and Japanese, plus a 2.0 English descriptive audio track. The included Blu-Ray disc carries an English 7.1 DTS-HDMA mix, the same descriptive audio track, and 5.1 Dolby Digital French and Spanish.

Packaging & Design

For review purposes, Disney sent a copy of the Best Buy exclusive SteelBook packaging, which features wrap-around artwork creating a scene of Ariel on a rock on the shore of Prince Eric’s castle. The interior contains artwork of Scuttle and Sebastian. Both discs in this set have artwork, with Ariel’s fin on the 4K disc and Ursula’s tentacles on the Blu-Ray. The only insert included contained a digital copy code redeemable through Movies Anywhere. There aren’t any trailers on either disc. The menu features artwork from the film’s theatrical teaser poster with animated bubbles set to the finale score.

Final Thoughts

While the 1989 animated classic reigns supreme (also available in 4K), Rob Marshall’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid is quite faithful to the original. The best way to view the film at home is with this 4K Ultra-HD disc release, which comes with enough bonus features to make buyers feel like they got to visit the set. But the absence of the deleted song (available on Disney+) makes the “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” branding questionable.



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Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).