Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ movie review

Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ movie review

Halle Bailey’s energetic portrayal and impressive computer-generated imagery rescue this Disney live-action remake of their Academy Award-winning 1989 animated movie from being forgotten.

Hans Christian Andersen’s 1837 Danish fairytale, The Little Mermaid, offers multiple interpretations that are difficult to ignore.

Can we interpret the mermaid’s trade of her voice for legs as a transformation into a mere object of sexual desire? Does the story serve as a cautionary tale, instilling fear in children to adhere to societal norms? Could there be a religious narrative underlying themes of death and rebirth? Additionally, there exists a subtle message about the desire to venture beyond familiar boundaries as one grows up and seeks new experiences.

TitleThe Little Mermaid
FilmmakerRob Marshall
StarringHalle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, Art Malik, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy
PlotThe Little Mermaid follows Ariel, the youngest daughter of King Triton, who becomes enchanted by the world on land and experiences a forbidden romance with a human, leading to catastrophic outcomes.
DurationThe movie has a runtime of 135 minutes.

Disney’s animated version of the fairy tale, released in 1989, received two Academy Awards and is credited with initiating the Disney Renaissance. Following the remarkable success of Jon Favreau’s live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, Disney has been consistently remaking its cherished animated classics into live-action films. 

Recently, we witnessed the release of Peter Pan & Wendy, and prior to that, Robert Zemeckis’ Pinocchio featuring Tom Hanks as Geppetto.

The cast of ‘The Little Mermaid’

It’s now Ariel and her group’s moment to be portrayed in live-action. Despite the controversy surrounding the casting of an African American actor as the main character, Halle Bailey delivers a delightful performance as Ariel. 

Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ movie review
Image Source: The New York Times

The film is directed by Rob Marshall, known for his work on Chicago, and features a musical composition by Lin-Manuel Miranda (known for In the Heights and Hamilton) and Alan Menken, who previously scored the original film. The Little Mermaid gracefully follows its predetermined storyline, leading up to the classic moment of true love’s kiss before the sunset.

Ariel’s vibrant and lively underwater realm, known as Atlantica, offers a more enjoyable experience than James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. 

Melissa McCarthy delivers a delightfully villainous portrayal as Ursula, the sea witch, right down to the tips of her octopus-like tentacles. 

Javier Bardem, as King Triton, Ariel’s father, exudes a regal presence filled with sorrow. 

Jonah Hauer-King’s performance as Eric, the human saved by Ariel and subsequently becomes her love interest, is enchanting and reminiscent of the charm displayed by Rishi Kapoor in the 1980s.

In The Little Mermaid, Art Malik (Battery Aziz) takes on the role of a benevolent Jeeves to Eric’s Wooster. The voice performances are satisfactory, featuring Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, the crab, Jacob Tremblay as the obligatory anxious fish, Flounder, and Awkwafina as Scuttle, a bird that spreads various false information about the human world, such as referring to a fork as a “dinglehopper” and claiming it is used for hairstyling. 

All the underwater jokes are intact, including references to a playful rivalry between “squidlings” and experiencing “cold fins.”

The Little Mermaid, currently showing in theatres, is another popcorn summer movie that immerses viewers in the visually stunning world of Atlantica. 

It features thrilling shark encounters, shipwrecks, and a formidable sea witch in the form of a giant octopus. Although it may not offer much substance, it provides enjoyable entertainment.

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