In a sea of live-action remakes, Disney’s latest rendition of “The Little Mermaid” has caused quite the splash. Directed by Rob Marshall, this visually stunning adaptation has left audiences divided, with some hailing it as a triumph while others question its creative choices. Starring the talented Halle Bailey as Ariel, the film dives headfirst into a tale of love, identity, and the power of one’s voice.
From the moment it was announced that Halle Bailey, an African-American actress, would be portraying the iconic role of Ariel, the internet erupted with both praise and outrage. The #NotMyAriel hashtag trended as detractors clung to their outdated notions of a fictional character’s racial identity. However, their objections ultimately fell flat, as Bailey delivers a performance that shines with charisma and authenticity.
— The Little Mermaid (@LittleMermaid) May 23, 2023
Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel is a breath of fresh air, infusing the character with a newfound edge. Her voice, ethereal and captivating, adds depth to the narrative’s core. Whether she’s belting out a rearranged rendition of “Part of Your World” or silently challenging societal norms, Bailey’s Ariel exudes strength and determination. It’s a testament to her talent and undeniable star power.
While Bailey’s performance shines, the film itself treads familiar waters. “The Little Mermaid” falls victim to the risk-averse nature of recent Disney remakes. Marshall’s vision, although visually stunning, lacks narrative coherence and often feels like a glossy rehash of its animated predecessor. The movie’s runtime, nearly an hour longer than the original, is bloated with unnecessary additions and subplots that detract from the central story.
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The underwater sequences are undoubtedly the film’s strongest suit. Marshall and his team spare no expense in bringing Ariel’s world to life. The photorealistic depiction of the sea, complete with shimmering scales and an abundance of vibrant marine life, is a feast for the eyes. Bailey’s enchanting rendition of “Part of Your World” underscores the magic of these underwater moments, leaving audiences yearning for more.
However, once the story ventures above the surface, it struggles to maintain its momentum. The chemistry between Ariel and her love interest, Prince Eric (played by Jonah Hauer King), lacks the enchantment and charm necessary to captivate viewers. The underdeveloped island setting pales in comparison to the captivating underwater realm, leaving audiences longing to return to Ariel’s true home.
Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of the sea witch Ursula injects much-needed energy into the film. With her campy and deliciously evil performance, McCarthy steals every scene she graces. Her comedic timing and distinctive flair bring new life to the character, showcasing why she was a no-brainer casting choice. Alongside Bailey’s Ariel, McCarthy’s Ursula injects the movie with a dose of villainous delight.
Despite its flaws, “The Little Mermaid” succeeds in championing diversity and representation. The film introduces a cosmopolitan cadre of mermaids, representing different races and the seven seas. However, these characters are underutilized, leaving audiences wanting more exploration and depth. It’s a missed opportunity to delve into a richer and more inclusive underwater world.
Rob Marshall’s stylistic choices lend themselves to both grandeur and excess. The film’s elaborate visual effects, although impressive, occasionally distract from the storytelling. Underwater scenes, where CGI reigns supreme, transport viewers to a breathtaking realm. However, the application of visual effects on land falls short, lacking the same vitality and organic charm. The film’s maximalist approach may overwhelm some, but for those seeking a visual spectacle, it delivers in spades.
— The Little Mermaid (@LittleMermaid) May 22, 2023
In the end, “The Little Mermaid” is a visually dazzling but imperfect remake. Halle Bailey’s captivating performance as Ariel serves as a beacon of hope for a new generation, challenging outdated norms and igniting conversations about representation in Hollywood. However, the film’s adherence to a formulaic structure and its inability to maintain the magic above the surface prevent it from reaching its full potential.
Love it or loathe it, “The Little Mermaid” is a testament to the enduring power of Disney’s animated classics. It sparks passionate discussions, both in praise and critique, reminding us of the importance of embracing change while honoring the essence of beloved stories. As the tide of controversy subsides, one thing is undeniable: Halle Bailey’s Ariel has left an indelible mark on the world of Disney, making waves that will be felt for years to come.
“The Little Mermaid” is set to release on 26th May 2023. Enjoy the Trailer: