The Little Mermaid 2023: A Dive into Disney’s Enchanting Live-Action Adaptation

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For Disney fans, especially those who love Disney Princess films, the animated movie “The Little Mermaid” (1989) is a classic. It’s no secret that Disney has been diligent in creating live-action adaptations of their animated films. Now, 34 years after the release of the animated version, “The Little Mermaid” gets its live-action treatment.

The live-action version of “The Little Mermaid” is directed by Rob Marshall, known for his work on “Mary Poppins Returns” (2018) and “Into the Woods” (2014). Halle Bailey, who secured the role through auditions, plays the character of Ariel. Alongside Bailey, the live-action version features Jonah Hauer-King, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy, and other renowned actors.

“The Little Mermaid” tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid princess and the youngest daughter of King Triton, the ruler of Atlantica. Despite her father’s strict prohibitions, Ariel has an immense curiosity about the world on land. One day, she rescues a prince named Eric and falls in love with him. Ariel then makes a significant decision to find a way to meet the prince.

Disney has extensive experience in adapting animated films into live-action, but there have been instances where their live-action films were met with mixed reviews from fans, as seen in “Mulan” (2020). Director Niki Caro and her writing team took bold steps to overhaul Mulan’s story, which sparked controversy among fans.

Fortunately, such issues are not present in “The Little Mermaid.” Director Rob Marshall and screenwriter David Magee chose to remain faithful to the animated version. While the overall storyline remains largely the same, Marshall adds supplementary elements that enrich the narrative derived from the animated version.

As an interesting fact, “The Little Mermaid” live-action version has a runtime of 135 minutes, significantly longer than the animated version’s 83 minutes. This extended duration allows for more detailed explanations, such as delving into Eric’s parentage and shedding light on King Triton’s intense aversion to humans.

What’s commendable about this live-action version are the new elements seamlessly integrated into the original story. These additions complement rather than disrupt the original narrative. I find myself more inclined to agree with this approach compared to major overhauls that could potentially damage the essence of the original story, as seen in “Mulan.”

Although the choice of Halle Bailey as Ariel continues to be a subject of controversy, it becomes apparent why Bailey was chosen after watching “The Little Mermaid” live-action. Bailey earned the role through a rigorous audition process, and her performance in the film proves the decision to be spot-on. Bailey effectively breathes life back into Ariel in the live-action version, and her beautiful voice is an added asset.

Apart from Bailey, other notable performances come from Jonah Hauer-King and Melissa McCarthy, who play Prince Eric and Ursula, respectively. Bailey and Hauer-King manage to establish a strong on-screen chemistry. McCarthy also succeeds in portraying the live-action Ursula with the same intimidating presence as in the animated version.

Daveed Diggs and Awkwafina, who lend their voices to Sebastian and Scuttle, also deliver stellar performances, especially when they rap in the song “The Scuttlebutt.” However, the choice of actresses for Ariel’s sisters feels somewhat distracting. While the film is a fantasy, it seems a bit odd and implausible to see Triton’s children with different racial backgrounds.

As in the animated film, the songs in “The Little Mermaid” live-action are all captivating. The iconic songs from the animated version are retained, and new songs are added to enhance the film’s vibrant atmosphere. One standout is Halle Bailey’s rendition of “Part of Your World,” which is powerful and emotionally charged.

While the audio aspects of the film are impressive, the CGI quality in “The Little Mermaid” is somewhat lacking. The movement of underwater characters’ hair, rendered using CGI, appears unnatural and at times peculiar. This is most noticeable in the final battle scene between the giant Ursula and Ariel and Eric. The scene is overly dark, possibly to conceal the limitations of the CGI in rendering the giant Ursula.

Overall, “The Little Mermaid” is a live-action film that stays true to the animated version’s narrative. The new elements added complement the story without undermining it. Despite the controversy surrounding her casting, Halle Bailey proves her capability as Ariel, coupled with her enchanting voice.

After reading this review, are you interested in watching Disney’s live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid”? For those who have seen it, feel free to share your thoughts on the film!

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