• Entertainment - Movie Reviews
  • Updated: May 28, 2023

'The Little Mermaid' Review: Greatness Manages To Elude Disney's Live-Action Retelling

Rob Marshall and Disney's VFX team bring fans a tale of visual splendour brimming with colourful characters beneath the surface but storywise, The Little Mermaid stops just short of being great.

Live-action remakes are tricky business and it's easy to make mistakes while trying to create something satisfying for audiences worldwide.

The latest effort from the Mouse House is compelling enough to make you sit through its two-hour runtime as you enjoy lead star Halle Bailey's musical renditions.

As the headstrong and naive titular character, Bailey for the most part succeeds in her portrayal of a girl bent on pursuing her one true love, even if it means defying her father, King Triton (Javier Bardem).

The lead star whose musical career has propelled her to stardom proves that her choice for the role is no fluke but is limited by a script that leaves her moping around clueless when she is literally out of her element.

Elaborating on the above would mean sharing spoilers which I will not do. Those who are yet to see the movie only have to do so to understand the 'moping' part.

Jonah Hauer-King, the actor who plays the smitten Prince Eric, is someone I'm unfamiliar with. He does the expected and nothing more. 

What I found quite curious is the fact that the circumstances surrounding his princely status were casually mentioned twice or so, without the need to show the backstory.

Halle Bailey as Ariel

Like King Triton whose wife's demise isn't explored, no light is shed on the surface Queen's husband's demise and how exactly Eric was found. I guess it was deemed not that significant.

The animal sidekicks are more annoying than funny, with the exception of Awkafina who does steal a few scenes with her character's glaring buffoonery.

For me, the most interesting and intriguing character is the devious and diabolical sea witch Ursula (played by Melissa McCarthy).

The comic actress eats up her scenes effortlessly and is humourous without making too much effort to be funny. I wish she was given more screen time though.

With regard to the plot, The Little Mermaid doesn't break new ground and while the special effects and makeup are what you would expect from Disney, this live-action retelling pales in comparison with the original.

The underwater scenes are gloriously executed and reminded me of James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water. 

The climatic battle at the end goes exactly the way you would expect from this sort of blockbuster; the execution is upended by a case of CGI overload.

Some fans are touting this as the best of the live-action remake from Disney. They are wrong. In my opinion, that title is still held by The Jungle Book.

In all, Rob Marshall pulls off what seems like a Herculean feat by reminding fans of the classic how magical it felt to experience Disney's storytelling at its finest.

But beyond the glitz and glamour, the Mouse House has to do way more to justify the need for live-action remakes.

Rating: 6.5/10.


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Sydney Elike
Sydney Elike

I am a Graduate of Theatre Arts, Writer, Movie Buff, Filmmaker, Avid Reader, Video Game Enthusiast ...

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