The Little Mermaid

Directed By Rob Marshall

Starring – Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy

The Plot – The youngest of King Triton’s daughters, Ariel (Bailey) is a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. Longing to find out more about the world beyond the sea, Ariel visits the surface and falls for the dashing Prince Eric (Hauer-King). Following her heart, she makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula (McCarthy), to experience life on land.

Rated PG for action/peril and some scary images

The Little Mermaid | Official Trailer – YouTube


Any doubts about Disney conjuring another uninspired shot for shot live action remake is silenced immediately with Marshall’s invigorating direction, seamlessly transfering the whimsical and exhillarating emphasis from the animated original, while extending the scope and scale of the established underwater world, that feels bigger and bolder than ever. With the correspondance of Dion Beebe’s swimming cinematography, Marshall studies and absorbs as much about the atmosphere that plays into the vitality of the experience, in turn exciting us with a rich combination of beautifully meaningful imagery and versatility in lighting between respective sea levels, which responsibly illustrate the organic believability of the overhanging influences. The spectacle is certainly there, but it’s accomplished without this ever visually feeling like a rehashing of an obviously better film, in turn cementing Marshall as the right commanding force for making this imaginatively fantastical world feel closer than ever before. Another major silencer of the preconceived prejudice that this movie unfairly faced is in the fearlessly star-making performance of Bailey, who effectively utilizes the child-like innocence, curiosity and even naivete of Ariel’s demeanor, whether with or without words at her disposal. Bailey’s facial registries are so boldly emotive that the scenes without dialogue don’t feel as big of a handicap against the character, and when combined with the spine-tingling radiance of her vocal capabilities breathing new life into these time-honored musical tracks, tramples over the loudest doubters while never losing the glow of her heart-stealing smile. Bailey isn’t left to do the heavy lifting alone, however, as Melissa McCarthy and Daveed Diggs prove perfection in their casting with a duo of boldly charismatic turns that enhance the investment to any scene they accommodate. Diggs’ comedic timing has always been present, but the humbling humanity that he brings to Sebastian as a protector of Ariel leaves him downright irresistably charming, which helps to evade some of the glaring distraction of his humiliating character design. Likewise, McCarthy is spellbinding as Ursula, attaining both the sinisterly opportunistic and powerful sides of the character’s familiarity, and with almost none of the familiarity in schtick from McCarthy, which would saturate an otherwise mesmerizing performance. Another fascinating element is in the addition of fifty minutes to the overall run time from its animated original, which is used to flesh out Ariel and Eric’s respective backstories into garnering more strange coincidences that each of them essentially come from the same world’s, with regards to their confining familial abodes. Not everything new effectively garners something beneficially integral to the experience, but the expanding characterization does give you a deeper sense of motivation to the sometimes crytpic movements of the characters, which helps to erase some of the uneasiness of this almost overnight love story between two characters who have essentially never met before their life-saving encounter. Here, the blossoming romance does still feel sudden, but with more attention paid to the originally brief second act, which initially felt underwhelmingly rushed, but here spends more time on that area to give a deeper sense of experience between the couple’s magical day spent together.


On the subject of that aforementioned run time, the extended allowance to the second act doesn’t always or often lead to the most compelling returns, proving that most of the new material doesn’t add anything memorably indulging, while removing much of the urgency from Ariel’s mission. This is when the pacing sludges through quicksand, grinding the gears of storytelling to a screeching halt, which not only tested my patience to remain invested, but also leaded to some new additions that I was less than thrilled with. The first is easily in the composing of three new musical numbers to the engagement, with none of which lyrically or musically feeling catchy or at the very least necessary to scenes that require music to further flesh them out. The second is tragically in the romance between Ariel and Eric, which with a complete lack of chemistry or synergy between the leads, requires the exposition to work overtime, forcefully painting in obvious strokes what it lacks in that indistinguishable X-factor that some on-screen couples simply have, long before shooting starts. In summary, some additional characterization is definitely appreciated, but fifty minutes’ worth feels overboard, leading to a bloated 130-minute run time that will test a child-dominated audience to remaining still in their seats. Beyond the run time, my biggest fear with the trailers surmised in a special effects presentation that essentially feels unfinished in execution. Part of the problem is certainly in the continued awkwardness of creature designs in photo-real animated stylings, conjuring these nightmare renderings of Sebastian and Scuttle, which aren’t quite as bad as the original Sonic the Hedgehog, but also not what I would call movie-ready by illustrating standards. However, the bigger problem for me is in the lack of tangibilities with the underwater scenes and sequences, where it never looks or feels like the characters are interacting with such a thickly influential surrounding property. Quick motions and a lack of bubbles make it difficult to even momentarily capture my imagination, and when combined with C.G.I renderings that look and feel like a live-action actor hanging in front of a green-screen, don’t attain that merit of authenticity that I was looking for in the adaptation. Finally, while Bailey, McCarthy and Diggs are the good side of the ensemble work, the bad and the ugly reside in the rest of their forgettable counterparts, which range from dully lifeless to downright annoying. The former resides sadly with Javier Bardem and Jacob Tremblay, two captivating presences who sleep through what little they’re given to do in the first place, and the latter resting on Awkwafina’s ear-annihilating turn as Scuttle, which is everything I loathe about boisterously alienating kids movies during contemporary times, and Jonah Hauer-King’s bland bumbling of Prince Eric . Initially, I was excited when these four were cast to their respective roles, but in now seeing the other side, I realize that anyone could’ve, and in Awkwafina’s case, should’ve played their characters, underwhelming the supporting units that were such an integral part to the animated original movie.

“The Little Mermaid” makes a more impactful splash than most Disney live action adaptations, thanks to the spectacle-heavy submersion of Rob Marshall’s beautifully buoyant direction, and Halle Bailey’s irresistible portrayal of Ariel. However, the bloated run time and behind-the-times C.G.I keep it from ever reaching surface level with its animated superior, creating a bit too many distractions in a film that all or nothing requires you to be a part of its world.

My Grade: 7/10 or C+

6 thoughts on “The Little Mermaid

  1. Just got back from seeing this, and I enjoyed it! Not as much as the animated, but I thought the acting, especially Berry and McCarthy were outstanding! I also enjoyed Diggs as Sebastian, with his grumbling on this way out of a scene. I did think it was way too long, and the songs were definitely not as good as the animated version. Also the Kraken version of Ursula just didn’t look right to me. I differ on Akwafina, though. Nora and I both thought she was entertaining! I also liked some of the small additions they made to the story, like the coral moon and the family storyline. Overall, it was worth watching, but I would wait for Disney plus.

  2. I’m not sure if it’s because I went into this with such low expectations, but I am immensely surprised that I actually kind of enjoyed this. Not only do I completely agree with your comments on the direction which gave this film so much energy, but I’m also glad you touched on the backstories for both Ariel and Eric which made their characters more fleshed out. Also, Halle Bailey was excellent as Ariel and I can’t imagine why ANYONE would think otherwise unless it was out of embarrassing spite. That said, some of the film’s problems hurt a lot more than I expected especially with the new songs and bloated runtime. I’ll gladly take an okay remake over an awful one any day, but I’d also prefer the remakes to stop all together especially since most of them are inferior to the animated classics. Fantastic review!

  3. It is likely to be within the next few weeks that I will be forced to watch this….unless I can convince someone else to take the kids, but I am glad to see this was not a total flop. Thank you for the review.

  4. After going and seeing it a 7 is spot on I felt like some of the scenes were rushed and dark like they couldn’t get them right so they made it dark so it wouldn’t matter but then other ones were bright and amazing.. I like the additions but also could of done without them didn’t really add much for me

  5. I dunno. I’m glad it was good for those that were interested, but even the live action versions I’ve got njoyed from the Mouse were pretty utterly forgettable, especially compared to the animated version. That being the case, I don’t feel like I’m doing myself a disservice by skipping it.

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