The Little Mermaid
Director: Rob Marshall
The Little Mermaid (2023) brings a classic Disney movie to the big screen once again, and the live-action version was quite well done. The music is incredible, our cast puts on a great show, and the visuals are amazing.
34 years after the animated original was released, Disney has created a second The Little Mermaid. This version is live-action, instead of animated and starts Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, and Javier Bardem, among a handful of other stars. As it is a Disney movie, we get some talking creatures who are voiced wonderfully, but I will get into that in a minute.
My expectations for this movie were incredibly low. Very low. The last couple live-action remakes that pop into my head from Disney, I’m looking at you Pinocchio, have been less than satisfactory. These movies usually fall into the trap of recreating the movie, and assuming the audience will just flock to it based on nostalgia alone. Thankfully, The Little Mermaid avoids this trap.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s a perfect movie, but it’s pretty darn good. The plot is interesting, although quite slow at times. The characters are decent and familiar, and the visuals blew me away. The best part of The Little Mermaid for me was always the ocean, so seeing that in live-action form was so, so cool. Definitely one of my favourite parts of the movie.
The Little Mermaid has something for everyone and is definitely worth watching. From the classic songs, to some really cool camera shots, and everything in-between, the movie is really well done. Don’t let all the negative reviews discourage you from seeing this, as it is sitting at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes for audiences.
What Happens in The Little Mermaid?
The Little Mermaid, while having some differences in plot that occur later in the movie, follows a very similar storyline to its predecessor. Ariel, Triton’s youngest daughter, is curious about the world above her home and wishes to reach it. As Triton has lost Ariel’s mother to the surface, his hatred for humans and the surface world runs deep.
On the flip side, Eric is also captivated by the world below his and wishes to explore the sea and bring prosperity back to his island. When Eric’s ship capsizes, he nearly drowns until Ariel saves him and takes him to shore. After this experience with the surface, Ariel becomes more obsessed with becoming a part of their world.
The plot is pretty good. It’s really dependant on how much you remember the original, and how badly you wanted this to be a different movie. I don’t remember a lot plot wise from the original, have not seen it in 10+ years, so I was coming in with a fairly blank slate. As a result, I really liked the direction this movie took. It didn’t reinvent the wheel, it took the story at hand and added things to make it function as a live-action film.
The setting of the movie is really interesting, and I thought the island was beautiful. Between the castle, as well as other areas explore throughout the movie, the island was a lot more interesting than I remember it being. Regardless, the ocean still takes the cake. The visuals are incredible, and the cinematography brought the CGI ocean and all of the creatures to life. There are a couple of spots where the crew tried to do some thing really big and awesome, and it didn’t quite pan out, but most of the movie looked stunning. Even in the slow moments, there’s something cool to look at.
I didn’t love the pacing, especially the middle portion of this movie, and it’s stretched pretty thin being 2 hours and 15 minutes long. The plot just doesn’t have enough juice to propel the movie through such a long runtime, and cool visuals can only hold your attention for so long. Yes, it is a kids movie ‘technically’, but we’ve seen many children movies remain engaging the whole way through.
Who Stars in The Little Mermaid (2023)?
As mentioned previously, Halle Bailey is the star of the show and plays Ariel. She puts on a fantastic performance, both in the signing and the acting departments. There are a couple of lines near the end that are absolutely atrocious, both in delivery and the actual line, but overall it was really good. Ariel as a character is not very deep, but we do get that authentic Ariel feel that makes this role so daunting. The character has been set for 30+ years, there’s some pressure that comes from trying to pull that off. Not only did Bailey pull it off, but we get to see her version of Ariel shine through at times.
We get so many good performances in this movie. Jonah Hauer-King was awesome as Eric, and his role required more depth than the original Eric, which was interesting to see. The character was really well done, and top 3 for me in this movie. Art Malik as Sir Grimbsy was also really good. He didn’t have a ton of screen time, but when he did, he made it count. Jacob Tremblay as Flounder was well done. The Flounder of past and the current Flounder are quite different in terms of shape and size, but the character was still good. Awkwafina as Scuttle was awesome. She was funny, and her voice fits the character so well.
I really enjoyed all of the characters in The Little Mermaid, but there were two that stood above the rest of the supporting cast. Sebastian is one of the most iconic characters from the original, and I love what they did with him in this movie. Not only is the CGI really well done, I liked the direction they took with his dialogue and his character traits. Above all, Daveed Diggs did an incredible job. From dialogue to song, his performance was a highlight of the film. Plus can you find a song better than under the sea?
Last, but not least, Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy stars as Ursula, and my goodness does she do a great job. Her performance as great, bring the creepiness of Ursula to the surface while adding her own flashes. I was kinda concerned about McCarthy, as she hasn’t been my favourite in recent project, but this was a redeeming performance for sure.
I know people had bigger expectations for this movie, that it was going to be groundbreaking both for Ariel’s character and the plot itself. That isn’t what this movie is meant to be, it’s a live-action remake. REMAKE. If that is what you keep in mind heading into this movie, you will have a very good time watching The Little Mermaid. The songs, the visuals, the nostalgia, almost everything about this movie was really good. Not perfect, and not overly new, but really good.