Star Cast: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina
Director: Rob Marshall
What’s Good: Halle Bailey’s belief in making this one as memorable as the original
What’s Bad: We’ve heard the story, we needed to ‘see’ & ‘hear’ how big & melodious this can get and the film disappoints in both the departments.
Loo Break: In every new song attempted by the music team
Watch or Not?: Even if you haven’t watched the film’s 1989 animated version, watch that one!
Available On: Theatrical Release/Disney Hotstar
Runtime: 135 Minutes
Just before the film ends, Halle Bailey’s Ariel stares across the sea after finding herself adjusting to the world ‘above the surface’, leading the tranquillity of that moment makes us realise how Disney has ruined the magic it created with the original. Ariel is a mermaid, the daughter of the King of Atlantica, King Triton (Javier Bardem), who has this thing against humans because they killed his wife.
Triton’s hate doesn’t let Ariel fall for a human, a Prince named Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), after she saves him from drowning. The wicked aunt of the story, Ursula, aka Sea Witch (Melissa McCarthy), gives Ariel the ‘human touch’ for two days only because she needs to steal a kiss from Eric to be a human with him for life. Will Ariel be able to get that kiss, or Eric would find someone else to kiss? That’s what the rest of the story is all about.
The Little Mermaid Movie Review: Script Analysis
The story of this film could never be a problem because it’s a retelling of a classic. For the ones jumping into the Little Mermaid’s world for the first time, this is not how it looks like. This CGI-heavy, confused gloomy world isn’t the one the OG Little Mermaid lived in. This is just the case of making things so hyper-real that you kill the essence of what made that film such a memorable thing in the first place.
Rather than hyping about what race the Mermaid would be or whether or not she’ll wear a shell bra, the makers of this one should’ve focused on how to make the under-the-sea world as vibrant as it used to be. The little details like how the ‘wet’ Merfolk would look after coming out of the sea hampers with the more polished version we’ve seen in its animated predecessor.
The Little Mermaid Movie Review: Star Performance
Halle Bailey does the best of the resources available to not look like a character coming out of a calculator because the forgettable graphics try their best to make her look like one. She could’ve been the perfect Mermaid only if the production team could’ve looked at the film behind the blind bubble of ‘diversity & inclusion’ created for marketing purposes.
Jonah Hauer-King as Eric is just about okay. He won’t annoy you, but he’s not the Prince you might expect from a good Disney movie. Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula is a victim of some poor character decisions made by the writers, which retains the ‘giant Ursula’ climatic fight, which looks horrendous in its live-action version.
Javier Bardem as Ariel’s father doesn’t get much meat to not fall for the father-daughter subplot even once. Daveed Diggs as the Red Jamaican crab Sebastian is much less than what we remember the OG one for. Awkwafina sounds like an unpaid Scarlett Johansson, irking the sh*t out of you in the movie’s new song, ‘Scuttlebutt’.
The Little Mermaid Movie Review: Direction, Music
Rob Marshall lacked the vision to design The Little Mermaid’s live-action version on the big screen. From the costumes to the sea world, nothing carries the finesse a Disney film in 2023 should boast of. The sloppy CGI impacts every department leaving an unappetising dent to look at for 135 minutes.
Alan Menken, the OG composer, worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda to bring back some classics with little to no modification and add questionable choices of songs like Awkwafina’s Scuttlebutt (why was that song made to the final cut?). The only saving grace about the film’s music is the original songs Alan brought with him; none of the others had anything going in their favour to be in a musical this big.
The Little Mermaid Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, The Little Mermaid has one big problem, and it’s the way how it looks, snatching away all the innocence from its source. Forget surpassing the vision of John Musker, Ron Clements’s 1989 film; it doesn’t even match that three decades later.
Two and a half stars!
The Little Mermaid Trailer
The Little Mermaid releases on 26th May, 2023.
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For more recommendations, read our SISU Movie Review here.