It was inevitable that there'd be a sequel to The Little Mermaid, considering that in the last 90s, Disney was on a rampant sequel kick, milking the classic franchises for all they're worth. I don't mind either way, because they wouldn't do it if there weren't people buying these movies. As for me, I'm just a sucker for all things having to do with Ariel.
The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea was released straight to video/DVD in the year 2000, eleven years after the original movie premiered. Likely on purpose, the main events of this sequel takes place about that same amount of years after Ariel and Eric had their happy ending in The Little Mermaid, and the story focuses instead on their twelve-year-old daughter, Melody.
In a sort-of prologue sequence we, the audience, are brought up to speed. After Ariel and Eric have been married for a year, they're gifted with a daughter they name Melody. All is well and good until Ursula's sister, Morgana, crashes the birthday celebration and holds the baby princess hostage in return for Triton's trident. Morgana's attack is foiled, but in the aftermath Ariel decides that the best thing to do is to isolate Melody completely from the ocean world and her Atlantican heritage.1
A massive wall is built around Ariel and Eric's castle, effectively cutting it off from the sea. Melody herself grows up having been banned from ever entering the ocean. But Melody is not her mother's daughter for nothing and gets around this, exploring the ocean whenever she gets the chance. She also befriends Sebastian2 in her exploration, but has no idea of his significance in her mother's life. Eventually Ariel's protectiveness causes Melody to snap, and she runs away and bumps into none other than Morgana. Morgana, using what little of Ursula's magic she has been able to save, gives Melody the chance to be a mermaid forever, if she could only do a teensy weensy little favour: steal Triton's trident. 3 Thusly begins Melody's haphazard adventure as a mermaid, gaining a few friends and learning a few lessons along the way.
Like a number of Disney sequels, The Little Mermaid: Return to the Sea is more of an homage to the original classic than an actual full-blown sequel. Melody's the star of the show, not Ariel, which can be a bit of a disappointment to those wanting to see more of the beloved redhead.
1: I could point out a flaw right here. Heck, I'll do it anyway. There is no reason why Melody is the most important member of Triton's family. The Sea King has six other daughters, and though it is never shown if any of them had children of their own, Melody is not the only person that Triton cares about. There are so many others that Morgana can target if she so chooses. Even if Morgana, in her insanity, only wants Melody (and if she spent twelve years focusing on Melody, then she probably is insane, and no wonder Ursula kicked her butt), little baby Melody is land-bound, so Morgana's access to her is severely limited in the early years. Morgana is insane, not powerful, and I'd say that the new parents overeacted a little bit right here. ( Go back )
2: If Sebastian knew that Melody was sneaking out against her parents' will, why wasn't he doing anything about it? Maybe the years made him soft, but Sebastian has shown that he is utterly terrified of Morgana and wants to keep Melody safe as much as possible, so why didn't he at least warn someone of what she was getting up to? It's also implied that Melody has been sneaking out for quite some time, so it's not like Sebastian didn't have any time. ( Go back )
3: I totally understand the various motivations that lead the characters to make the choices they do in the film. Melody has lost twelve years of her life to a ban she doesn't understand and reacts as only a frustrated and betrayed teenager will. Ariel spent sixteen years under her father's ban but that had a reason behind it: humans cannot know that merpeople exist, and humans do cause harm to merpeople and their underwater kin. The thing that bugs me is how unsympathetic Ariel is towards her daughter. She has become the worst version of her own father, unforgiving and overprotective, even if she does have a sound reason. It makes for interesting character development, but this choice to keep Melody in the dark creates bad anticipation for the moment that the bomb will drop, and you know it's not going to be pretty. This (to borrow a metaphor) is like a shaky two-tonne chandelier hanging above your head, distracting you from enjoying what's going on. ( Go back )