The Little Mermaid Review | A Faithful Adaptation To A Disney Classic

Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” first enchanted audiences in 1989 and quickly became an Oscar-winning, animated classic. In 2023, the next Disney animated film getting the live-action treatment.

It is directed by filmmaker Rob Marshall, who has directed many well-known films like “Mary Poppins Returns”, “Memoirs of a Geisha”, and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” to name a few.

The Little Mermaid
Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“The Little Mermaid” features a cast led by Halle Bailey as Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Noma Dumezweni as The Queen, Art Malik as Sir Grimsby, with Javier Bardem as King Triton and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula.

The casting in this film is one of its strengths, Halle Bailey is charming and has an amazing voice that leaves little or no doubt that she was the right actress for the role. To my surprise, I found Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula to be one of my favorite characters, as that scavenger ready to take advantage of Ariel’s desperation to get out of her father’s rule.

Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This new live-action version of “The Little Mermaid”, is set in the 1830s on and around a fictitious island in the Caribbean. Most of the core story that we all know that is inspired by the Danish author Hans Christian Andersen is there for fans of the classic film to enjoy. Ariel is an 18-year-old spirited mermaid always hungry for an adventure and a connection with the world on land. But her father, King Tritan, has forbidden any interaction with the surface world. This conflict between Ariel and her father is the foundation of the film. The rest of the story you already know or you can enjoy in theaters starting this weekend.

Bringing the story of “The Little Mermaid” to the Caribbean is a welcomed change as it adds a layer of culture and identity that the characters could latch on to. Specifically with Ariel, as she is can find a lot of common ground with the people she meets on the surface. When it comes to Prince Eric, it’s a great way to make him feel like a fish out of water, as there aren’t many on the island that look like him. This creates a commonality between Ariel and Eric that can attract them to one another.

The Little Mermaid
Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Overall, “The Little Mermaid” is a faithful adaptation of the classic animated film.

One of my issues with the film comes with a lot of the moments with King Tritan, it seems as if they let those moments breathe too much. They slow down the pacing of the film which could at times take you out of whatever the previous scene had set up. This is a shame because I feel that the father/daughter relationship in the film is so important, yet so easy to lose interest in.

One other thing was some of the underwater visual effects, I felt that anytime the mermaids were moving, the animation got a little choppy. Also, the sea life during the “Under The Sea” song, were not very impressive. Going into the film, I really thought that the realistic-looking Sebastian and Flounder were going to bother me, but I was pleasantly surprised that I got used to them fairly quick.

Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In my opinion, “The Little Mermaid” is one of the best live-action adaptions of the Disney classics to date. It makes just enough changes to make it a more cohesive story and give characters, like Eric a little more depth. Bailey and McCarthy are fantastic in the film. While there are some issues with the pacing and visual effects, it’s not enough to derail the film.

Overall Grade for Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”: B+

Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” makes it to the surface world on May 26.

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