Disney’s latest live-action remake of ‘The Little Mermaid,’ featuring Halle Bailey as Ariel and a diverse cast, attempts to address past shortcomings but falls short of capturing the original’s magic.
In this new adaptation, the movie aims to be more socially aware by incorporating contemporary issues like human pollution of the oceans. It also adds extra runtime and three new songs to the narrative. However, the result is a film that feels dutiful, defensive, and overly concerned with being politically correct, rather than focusing on delivering a delightful and enchanting experience.
The story remains faithful to Hans Christian Andersen’s tale: Ariel, the mermaid, longs to leave her underwater kingdom to be with the prince she saved from a shipwreck. The sea-witch Ursula grants her wish but with a condition: Ariel must get a kiss from the prince in three days to stay human, or else she will be enslaved to Ursula forever.
While the new movie strives for inclusivity and representation, it sacrifices the whimsical and adventurous spirit of the original. The CGI-heavy scenes lack the organic charm and buoyancy of the animated classic, making the film feel flat and lacking in genuine excitement. The decision to have Ariel mute for a significant portion of the movie hampers Halle Bailey’s ability to showcase her full range of talent.
The film’s attempts to diversify the cast are noticeable, with Ariel’s father, King Triton, portrayed by Javier Bardem, and her mermaid siblings portrayed by a multiethnic ensemble. The prince, Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King, has been given more depth in this version, but it comes at the expense of reducing Ariel’s character development.
Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of Ursula brings a touch of pathos to the character, but it still feels like a homage to the animated counterpart, rather than a fresh take on the role.
In conclusion, while ‘The Little Mermaid’ remake aims to correct past issues and promote inclusivity, it falls short of capturing the charm and excitement of the original. The film seems more preoccupied with being politically correct than with delivering an engaging and magical cinematic experience. The result is a lackluster adaptation that lacks the joy, wonder, and creativity that made the 1989 animated version a timeless classic.