The Little Mermaid

  • 03 Jun - 09 Jun, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

With his daughters, King Triton (Javier Bardem) governs the seven seas, but one of them has other passions. Ariel collects objects from people who live on land and has her head above water, but her curiosity frequently gets her into trouble. To her father's dismay, she falls in love with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) after saving him from being thrown overboard during a storm. Triton's only rule is that the merpeople are not allowed in the human world, and in his rage, he destroys Ariel's priceless collection. The distressed mermaid strikes a deal with the villainous Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), who assures Ariel that she will receive human legs in return for using her seductive voice to set foot on land. But there is a severe condition attached: if Ariel doesn’t get true love’s kiss in three days, the sea witch will trap her forever.

Hearing Halle Bailey perform the timeless song "Part of Your World" makes it clear that she has a remarkable voice, and her casting is ideal. Ariel's naiveté and commitment to her cause are perfectly captured by Bailey. Her chemistry with Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King, is also captivating, which is made possible by the choice to give his character more backstory. Their unlikely romance is more complex than we've ever seen it, but it comes at the expense of pacing problems, which are made worse by the songs, some of which are new songs as well as extended versions of old favourites. The narrative flow of the movie is hampered by this, especially in the first few acts.

The use of weak CGI, which frequently pulls you out of the underwater experience, is another problematic area, especially in light of recent films' relatively high standards in that field. Fortunately, the plot moves along thanks to supporting actors like the irritable crab Sebastian (voiced by Daveed Diggs) and the enthusiastic seagull Scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina). With their incredible talent, Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy are able to uphold their roles as Triton and Ursula, respectively. But it's difficult to look past the startling photorealistic design of old favourite Flounder (voiced by Jacob Tremblay).

Disney has a history of live-action remakes of their beloved films, with mixed results in the past. However, this new version of "The Little Mermaid" largely benefits the younger audience. Rob Marshall's adaptation doesn't quite capture the same magical essence of the original, but all is not lost thanks in large part to Halle Bailey's star-making performance.