The Little Mermaid – Film Review

The Little Mermaid – Film Review
by Katie McCann

Director – Rob Marshall
Writers – David Magee, Hans Christian Andersen, Ron Clements
Stars – Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy

Live-action remakes of treasured Disney classics have become increasingly common in the last few years. An optimist might argue that the studio is looking to update and reimagine these films for a modern audience with inclusivity at the heart of it all. A cynic might look at it as a massive cash grab. With the latest instalment now being The Little Mermaid I’m afraid it seems more and more likely that reinvention is quite low on the list of Disney’s priorities.

For those of you who are fellow Disney nerds, you will know that the 1989 Little Mermaid was the film that saved the Disney Animation Studio and launched what is known as the Disney Renaissance. Sadly it feels to me that the 2023 version while holding on to a lot of what made the original wonderful, fails to find the spark that the 1989 version had in bucket loads.

The plot is entirely the same. Mermaid meets human, mermaid falls in love with human, mermaid trades voice for legs and things don’t go to plan. There are a couple of extra songs added and even a cut or two (Sisters of Trident I understand but cutting Le Poisson I will never forgive!) and yet the film manages to add an extra 40 minutes. I honestly don’t know how this happened but yet felt it deeply.

The performances are solid but it is Hallie Bailey, who takes on the role of Ariel, that really shines. Her voice, conviction and ability to do that iconic hair toss set her apart but you cannot help feel that all that extra water CGI is deadening the chemistry between her and her cast mates. Also, the animated Sebastian and Flounder are just a bit odd. They are made hyperrealistic meaning they don’t have the human-like facial expressions that made them so loveable in the cartoon.

The magic of the cartoon is not easily replicated but there is some fun to be had, especially if you’ve never watched the original. Kids will like it, and it will sell a lot of merchandise, but if you can, go watch the original. After all, there would be no Disney as we know it without The Little Mermaid.

Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies

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