Disney’s Little Mermaid Live-Action Release Date
Disney’s new Little Mermaid adaptation, as with all other live-action remakes of its animated predecessors, is fuelled by nostalgia. Despite the movie being full of heart, it is indebted to the iconic music and ageless story of the original. Unfortunately, its two-hour run-time contains unnecessary additions. The Little Mermaid movie is not necessarily bad and could be considered one of the better Disney live-action remakes. However, apart from Halle Bailey’s exceptional performance as Princess Ariel, the emotional impact is not as significant as the animation classic.
Bailey imbues her show-stopping rendition of “Part of Your World” with a wild and raw yearning.“
The most critical highlight is Halle Bailey’s incredible performance. She shines as Ariel, the pearl of The Little Mermaid’s center, that elicits empathy even as she’s notably silent for the concluding half of the movie. The story has been about loneliness, girlhood, and the desire to prove oneself. Bailey manages to balance the movie’s themes commendably. Her moments of buoyancy express optimism and curiosity, but she masterfully grounds her performance in Ariel’s more quiet and doubting moments. Additionally, she represents a generation of children who can relate to her character, which is a significant bonus.
Most notably, Bailey delivers an outstanding rendition of “Part of Your World” that resonates with feelings of yearning and restlessness to anyone who has ever wanted more. To witness her singing this ballad is unforgettable. It is inspiring to see someone express the desire for a life beyond a circumstance. Unfortunately, there are no other equally musical moments in the movie.
Melissa McCarthy’s sinister and comical take on Ursula the sea witch is the second highlight. Ursula is one of Disney’s most iconic villains, and McCarthy manages to cleverly bring her to life in a way that doesn’t try too hard to imitate her predecessor. Her performance of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is hilarious but overshadowed by the bafflingly dark lighting of her lair.
A lifelike crab simply can’t emote in the same way the original cartoonish Sebastian can.“
Underwater, The Little Mermaid movie is rather lackluster. The ocean depths have a chilly emotional quality, enhanced by poor visual effects that do not do justice to the mermaid kingdom. We hardly see any merpeople apart from Triton (played ably by Javier Bardem) and his daughters, and the awkward faces on their animated bodies doesn’t help. Rendering the sea creatures realistically robs the Atlantica kingdom of life that had been in the original animated movie. It doesn’t make sense why Ariel’s animal friends had to take on the appearance of creatures from National Geographic. These days, a realistic crab simply can’t deliver the same emotional output that the original cartoonish Sebastian can. Pursuing a realistic style did Ariel’s companions a disservice, as it robbed them of their humanity, making them feel more like props than personalities.
The movie’s surface is another story. Eric’s island has been expanded upon and explored more than the original did. It is alive in a way that Atlantica isn’t, with different sounds, sights and friendly faces. The idea is commendable as it gives a new reason to why Ariel decided to leave the sea behind that does not entirely depend on her brief communication with Eric (played by Jonah Hauer-King). However, these changes are negligible and are easily forgettable.
New songs could have set the live-action adaptation apart from the animated movie. Still, they failed to make any significant impact. Hauer-King delivers a theatrical solo, but the timing and lyricism render it more notable than valuable. “Scuttlebutt,” a quasi-rap performed by Diggs and Awkwafina, is significant fun but poorly timed moments before Ariel’s devastating discovery of Ursula’s treachery. The only new song that is genuinely seamless is “For the First Time,” performed via Ariel’s internal monologue as she observes the surface world for the first time.
Despite its shortcomings, the story reminds viewers of a vital aspect that makes Ariel resonate. The story is more than just a romance; it’s about the danger and desperation of feeling misunderstood and underestimated, and the relief that comes with finding a place to belong. Halle Bailey’s rendition of Ariel alludes to the fact that The Little Mermaid’s story was barely a tragedy, as in the original fairy tale.