The Little Mermaid Review
Disney’s live-action remakes have tried to recapture the magic of the animated features by changing some aspects. Fortunately, for some remakes, the reimagining of characters and musical numbers has worked in their favour. It’s difficult to translate a classic fairytale years later without losing some of the magic that made the original special. Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid redesigned iconic moments and modernized the love story between Ariel (Halle Bailey) and Prince Eric (Jonah Haur-King) for a new generation to enjoy. The beauty of the Disney vault means endless iterations of the films we all loved growing up while updating and changing them for new audiences.
The introduction of the wonderful Halle Bailey in her first leading role as a Disney princess held this film together. Bailey’s performance was charming, sweet, and overall lovely to watch. She embodied the role of Ariel and carried her spirit throughout. Bailey has always been a real-life princess outside of the film, which made her portrayal effortless. Her chemistry with Haur-King made for a romantic relationship to be built instead of it being love at first sight, which is one of the many changes from the original animated feature. Creating a strong backstory for Prince Eric meant that Ariel would feel that connection just by listening to him rant about wanting to explore and seek adventure overseas. Even without a voice, Ariel expressed how she felt about Eric, and he connected with her because she would listen to him.
Director Rob Marshall combined the stage production and the animated feature to create a more well-rounded story. The voice acting from Daveed Diggs and Jacob Tremblay as Sebastian and Flounder was delightful. The realism of the sea creatures faded into the background the second you heard their expressive voices. Diggs carried the film because he was King Triton’s (Javier Bardem) overseer and kept a watchful eye on Ariel. Once Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) made her grand entrance, the darkness of the sea was felt. Unfortunately, McCarthy acted as a meaner version of herself instead of embodying the character. “Poor Unfortunate Souls” wasn’t nearly as powerful in the live-action as in the animated feature.
The Little Mermaid is a charming Disney live-action feature with a shining real-life princess in Halle Bailey guiding the way. Director Rob Marshall brought forth the best aspects of the animated feature and re-created many moments from the animated feature that will please audiences. The original songs by Alan Menken and Lin Manuel Miranda were great additions. And the score combined with Ariel’s siren song was chilling during the darker moments. The visuals are stunning when the focus is not on the hairline of the characters, and for a film that is underwater for half of the film, the special effects were quite good. For this to be released during Disney’s centennial year is something special because Marshall delivered that familiar Disney magic through a unique love story.
Review by: Amanda Guarragi
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