A Glowing Undersea Adventure

Barbie stars as Lumina (Kelly Sheridan), a young mermaid who’s lived her entire life with only her Aunt Scylla (Patricia Pattenden) and her trusted best friend Kuda the pink seahorse (Katie Crown) to count as her faithful companions. Generally speaking, she loves the ocean and her home, and she especially loves her “pearl magic,” a process by which she is able to command pearls to perform feats of enchantment. Mostly she uses her magic to aid in her and Kuda’s flights of fancy, especially their favorite — when they pretend to be princesses. Lumina uses the pearls to create fabulous new hairdos for the duo.

This hobby will later come in handy when Lumina and Kuda leave home. Their journey is triggered by the discovery of an invitation to a royal ball. Since it’s addressed to Aunt Scylla who’s gone to the city on an unknown errand it just makes sense to return it to her, right? And if the duo happen to get to go to the ball themselves, well then that’s just the risk they’ll have to take. In an interesting turn Lumina takes the time to get a job as a hairdresser. This moves the story along as she meets some new friends as well as her greatest enemy while on the clock. But it’s also a life lesson I can’t remember seeing in any recent kids’ film. Taking the time to understand the concept of working for a living is a worthy message for a film to have.

The rest of the story includes elements we’ve seen in other films. There’s a lost princess, a relative determined to ascend their throne, and a ball to find an eligible maiden. Tying these pieces together are a few musical numbers, which have become par for the course with Barbie films. And it is only a few, which is a great decision as kids only have a couple of songs to become addicted to. Though some of the plot points are repeated from other films, there’s enough charm within the story to keep it engaging. The animation is well done and the musical numbers are lively. Toss in the accompanying music videos within the special features and you have the recipe for almost two hours of bubbly fun for your little one.

One thing definitely in Barbie and company’s favor is the video transfer. The colors are lush and extremely well saturated without that annoying bleed-through that sometimes occurs. Nor is there the halo effect that characterized some of Barbie’s earlier films. The 1.78:1/1080p HD widescreen transfer is a beautiful looking video. The only issue I have with the animation is the occasional slow blink. It makes the characters look plastic (ha!) as opposed to photo real. There are a number of audio tracks, most notably an impressive DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, which is overkill for the disc regardless of how well it highlights the musical numbers. Also included are DTS 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish.

The special features include music videos showcasing songs from the film and a number of featurettes, including an episode from Barbie’s Life in the Dreamhouse series. Of note there is also a digital copy of the film included too.

Barbie: The Pearl Princess is a fluffy bit of fun. The story has enough recognizable elements from other fairy tales and kids’ films to provide some instant connection for the audience. The animation is some of the best produced for the Barbie line of films. Plus the songs will encourage your little one to get up and dance.

THE VERDICT

As long as I get an invitation to the Mermaid Party I’ll call it not guilty.

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