In her latest direct to video film, Barbie: The Pearl Princess, Barbie stars as Lumina, a young mermaid who lives in a secluded part of the ocean with her Aunt Scylla and her best friend, a pink seahorse named Kuda. Lumina has special magical ability which allows her to harness the power of pearls (mostly) to create fashion and style hair. However, her Aunt insists that she must keep her powers private, otherwise if someone found out, they might come looking for her.
Meanwhile at the royal castle, we discover that many years ago that King Nereus and Queen Lorelei’s infant daughter had been poisoned and killed (this could be a delicate plot point for some parents) and that with no other heirs, their nephew Fergis (a bit of a flighty, bumbling young man who is more interested in becoming a botanist than king) is next in line for the throne and his father, the head of the royal security, General Caligo insists that they should throw a royal ball, inviting all of the eligible mermaids to find a suitable bride (and future queen) for his son.
Well, it turns out that Aunt Scylla was the assassin who General Caligo hired to eliminate the King and Queen’s daughter all those years ago. He was hoping to fast track his son into a place of power and so now he sends one of his eel minions to talk to Scylla and threaten her into another job, poisoning the King and Queen so that his son doesn’t need to wait any longer to claim his royal throne.
In order to protect Lumina (and her true identity) Aunt Scylla reluctantly heads into town to carry out Caligo’s orders, but accidentally forgets her ball invitation back at the house in her haste. Lumina and Kuda happen upon the invite and despite Aunt Scylla forbidding them to travel to the royal castle, they set off on an adventure filled with magic, new friends and self discovery as they try to catch up to Aunt Scylla to give her the invitation. And so as not to spoil the entire film…I’ll just leave it at that.
My girls, Emily (almost age 7, favorite Barbie film: Princess and The Pop Star) and Claire (age 4, favorite Barbie film: A Mermaid Tale 2) are pretty big Barbie fans. They’ve seen quite a number of the films, the TV series, have a bunch of the dolls and play with Barbie apps on the the iPad. They enjoyed this new film quite a bit, especially the cute new characters and the nice mix of funny and dramatic moments, dance and action sequences. There were a few mildly scary parts which could have younger viewers cuddling up close to Mommy and Daddy as well as the poisoning plot point, a few mentions of killing and death and one instance of a character dying which may be an issue for more sensitive viewers, but have no fear, as expected, everything wraps with a happy ending. Having seen quite a number of these films now the plot was fairly predictable, but I still found the film entertaining, plus there were some jokes thrown in that were obviously meant for the adults (which was much appreciated).
While I don’t think Barbie: The Pearl Princess was either girls favorite of all the Barbie movies, an honor which I suspect still belongs to Princess and The Pop Star and Mermaid Tale 2, I have no doubt that there will be a lot more viewing of this film in our house, in the car and on iOS devices. As soon as the credits rolled, Emily started acting like Lumina, casting her pearl magic on the entire family’s heads to give them imaginary new hairdos. And throughout the film Claire broke into fits of giggles whenever there was some sort of physical humor. Of course the Pearl Princess related fun doesn’t stop with the film, as there is a brand new line of Barbie The Pearl Princess dolls available as well. We have one which allows your child to pretend she has pearl magic just like Lumina and can style her hair using pearls (just like in the movie)…needless to say, the girls love it…we may have to get a second one.
As for the technical aspects of the DVD itself, the picture quality was very good (a Blu-ray and iTunes digital copy of the film are also available as part of a combo pack) and the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound was utilized well, as evidenced by Claire turning around and marveling at the rear speaker during one particularly action-packed sequence. The dialogue was easy to hear and the film’s two catchy original songs inspired some impromptu mock mermaid dancing by the little ones. The voice cast did a really nice job, especially Kelly Sheridan who’s been the voice of the lead character in at least the seven most recent Barbie films.
While I was a little disappointed that there were no fake outtakes (as I’ve said before, these are some of our family’s favorite bonus features) there are a couple of music videos as well as a 12 minute episode of the Barbie: Life In The Dreamhouse. All of which we thoroughly enjoyed, even the episode of the TV series which the girls had already seen before. In fact Emily had an ear to ear smile while watching it and was eager to inform me that “I’d really like this next part” and “wait till you see what he does next”. Finally the extras are rounded out by about 10 or so trailers for other Barbie films, which during all but one, Claire exuberantly shouted “we have that” or “we saw that”…did I mention that they like these Barbie films? The last trailer was a teaser for Barbie and The Secret Door, a new Barbie film coming this Fall. It has a Mermaid, a Princess AND a Fairy in it, not to mention a whole slew of new songs…sounds like a Barbie fan’s jackpot to me.
If your family is anything like mine, then Barbie: The Pearl Princess, will make a nice addition to your household’s growing Barbie film library. If you can afford to spend the extra $5 to buy the Blu-ray combo pack over the DVD, I’d recommend it because of the versatility that it offers, providing you with the most viewing options. However, as I said, the DVD picture quality looks really nice and it contains all of the same extras, so if you want to save a few dollars (to spend on new Barbie dolls), then you can just pick up the DVD by itself for about $15.
Film: (74 min):
- Widescreen 480p, 1.78:1
- Audio: English DD 2.0 Stereo, English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
- French, Spanish subtitles
Blu-ray Combo Pack also includes the film on
- Widescreen 1080p, 1.78:1
- Audio: English DTS-HD 2.0, English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1
- French, Spanish subtitles
Digital Copy (Redemption Deadline 5/2/2016):
- iTunes Digital Copy
- UltraViolet DigitalHD Copy
- Mermaid Party! Music Video
- Light Up The World Music Video
- Barbie: Life In The Dreamhouse Music Video
- Barbie: Life In The Dreamhouse Episode