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The Little Mermaid (2023) - A Movie Review

'The Little Mermaid' embodies clever deviations from the original, setting it apart from other Disney live-action remakes.

By Marielle SabbagPublished 4 months ago 3 min read

Some day I’ll be part of your world.

Emerging from the ocean into theaters in 2023, The Little Mermaid is Disney’s latest live-action film. The enchanting tale follows a mermaid named Ariel who falls in love with a human. Forbidden by her father to pursue him, Ariel makes a wicked deal with Ursula. With her wish granted, Ariel has little time to capture Prince Eric's heart before it slips away forever.

I walked into The Little Mermaid anticipating another Disney live-action flop, I was pleasantly surprised, applauding this beautiful adaptation when the credits rolled. While it had moments of prolonged storytelling, The Little Mermaid embodies clever deviations from the original, setting it apart from other Disney live-action remakes.

Illustrating a compelling rendition of the role, Halle Bailey delivered a captivating portrayal of Ariel. Bailey’s singing voice was lovely, sending goosebumps down my spine during her striking rendition of ‘Part of Your World.’ It was my favorite part of the movie! Bailey also showcased her talent through her exceptional non-verbal expressions.

Melissa McCarthy didn’t know she could sing until starring as the cunning Ursula! As another highlight of the movie, McCarthy brought an extra dose of comedic charm to the character, while also astonishing audiences with her powerful rendition of the iconic song "Poor Unfortunate Souls." The way she moved about in octopus-like movements was bewitching.

The rest of the cast delivered commendable performances, although some could have benefitted from clearer direction or stronger character motivations. Jonah Hauer-King brought a refreshing upgrade to Prince Eric. Expanding upon Ariel and Eric's romance, the live-action presented more heartfelt scenes that deepened their connection.

Daveed Diggs stole the show as the lively Sebastian! His comedic timing had my friend and me in stitches. His character design perfectly captured the essence of a hurried crab trying to keep up with everyone.

Flounder (Jacob Tremblay) was downplayed in the live-action. Assigning Flounder’s role to Scuttle (Awkafina), writers should have explored more ideas to keep Flounder included in the story, especially when scenes took place in the ocean. Additionally, Flounder’s design lacked the intricacy in Sebastian's appearance, which was somewhat disappointing.

Javier Bardem, Noma Dumezweni, Art Malik, and a surprise cameo by a well-known voice actress accompany the film's credits. However, special recognition goes to Jessica Alexander for her small yet memorable role as Vanessa. Despite the limited screen time, she left a lasting impression.

The cinematography and visual effects of The Little Mermaid are breathtaking. The vibrant and colorful underwater kingdom is brought to life with stunning CGI, assembling a mesmerizing spectacle perfectly exhibited in the film’s trademark song ‘Under the Sea.’

Spending four years crafting The Little Mermaid, Rob Marshall upgraded story elements, added characters, and elevated the movie, setting it apart from other Disney live-action remakes that followed the original stories beat by beat.

The one downside of Rob Marshall’s direction is the pacing. With a runtime of two hours, the kids in my theater grew restless. Transitions between scenes felt hurried, and certain characters (King Triton, specifically) missed the mark in delivering the necessary emotional responses. Ariel’s sisters were underdeveloped when they could have served more of a purpose in the story.

The Little Mermaid is my favorite of the Disney live-action films. I was giddy like a child (surrounded by many in the theater) as I tapped my feet and bopped my head to the songs. Everyone is going to have a different opinion about the remake so my advice to you is to listen to your heart and experience The Little Mermaid in theaters. It is worth the adventure.

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About the Creator

Marielle Sabbag

Writing has been my passion since I was 11 years old. I love creating stories from fiction, poetry, fanfiction. I enjoy writing movie reviews. I would love to become a creative writing teacher and leave the world inspiring minds.

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  • Grz Colm4 months ago

    Fair and balance review. I agree about Flounder, but I also loved awkwafina’s role as Scuttle. I just saw it last night and was pleasantly surprised as I too do not like a lot of the live action remakes, but there was still a lot to enjoy here.

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