THE LITTLE MERMAID -- Halle Bailey is a Perfect Ariel in Another Unnecessary Disney Remake
Review by Camden Ferrell
Rob Marshall is no stranger to musicals and definitely no stranger to Disney musicals. Some of his previous work as a director includes 2002’s Chicago and most recently the surprisingly delightful Mary Poppins Returns. His newest movie is attempting to adapt one of the most beloved Disney film’s to live action. The Little Mermaid, despite being about fifty minutes longer than the original, fails to add anything new or fresh to the story, barely being saved by a standout performance by Halle Bailey.
In this remake of the classic story, Ariel is a young mermaid with aspirations to experience life above water. Against the wishes of her protective and prejudiced father, she sells her beautiful voice to an evil witch, so she has a chance to live among humans and fall in love with a handsome Prince. It’s the same story everybody knows and loves, and it remains relatively faithful in its premise. However, faith does not equate to quality, and even fans of the original might have a hard time justifying this movie’s existence.
Written by David Magee, it follows the original pretty closely while adding a few additional moments and indulgent scenes of visual effects work. It’s not bad by any means, but it feels wholly derivative of the source material. It doesn’t seem like there’s an attempt to put his own spin on this story, merely following the path of what came before. This creates a shaky foundation for the movie to be built upon. It was never going to outdo the original by copying the same ideas. It might have been risky, but there would have been more favor to be won if he had taken some creative risks and liberties with the story to make it feel fresh and original.
Likely the only amazing aspect of this movie is its lead performance. Halle Bailey stuns as Ariel from the second she appears on screen and begins singing. It’s hard to imagine anybody else pulling off this role as well as her, and she is the undisputed saving grace of this movie. The ensemble that has been assembled is decent but nothing spectacular. Some might enjoy Melissa McCarthy’s performance as Ursula or Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, but they aren’t able to match Bailey’s impact. Other cast members like Javier Bardem and Jonah Hauer-King fail to make an impression and deliver forgettable performances of iconic characters.
Audiences are going to likely feel the lengthiness of this adaptation. Clocking in at over two hours, it clearly overstays its welcome. New scenes and songs don’t add much in terms of enjoyment, and it only serves to bloat the movie. These problems, combined with some awkward and somewhat questionable visual effects, leave much to be desired from this adaptation. Despite the harsh criticisms I’m giving, I do recognize that on a superficial level, this is a passable Disney movie that some people might truly enjoy. There are certainly much worse ways to spend time at a movie theater right now, but with such an iconic story, one should expect more from this remake.
The Little Mermaid won’t win over any new fans, and it won’t impress fans of the original, but there might still be some decent entertainment for audiences. Bailey’s performance might be worth the price of admission alone. Regardless, it’s easy to write this off as yet another unnecessary Disney remake, but it certainly could have been worse.
The Little Mermaid is in theaters May 26.
Leave a Reply.