The Little Mermaid (2023) Review




In 1989, Walt Disney Animated Studios took a journey “under the sea” for the reimagining of Danish author Hans Christian Anderson iconic tale for their 28th animated feature film titled The Little Mermaid. Written and directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, the film, which starred the voice talents of Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Pat Carroll, Samuel E. Wright, Kenneth Mars, and Buddy Hackett, centers around the story of a teenage mermaid princess named Ariel, who dreams of becoming human and falls in love with a human prince named Eric, which leads her to make decisive magical deal with wicked sea witch, Ursula, to become human and be with him. With the film’s theatrical release date on November 17th, 1989, The Little Mermaid was met with positive reviews and critical acclaim, earning praise from both critics and moviegoers for its animation, music, and characters. The movie was also a commercial success, with the cartoon motion picture raking in $84 million at domestic box office during its initial release and $235 million worldwide. With the film’s success, The Little Mermaid was given credit for bringing the “House of Mouse” life back into style / art of Disney animated films after several previous struggling endeavors. Thus, began the Disney’s Renaissance era, with other notable films such as Beauty and the BeastAladdinThe Lion KingMulan, and Tarzan just to name a few that followed the similar path that this movie followed in animation, storytelling, characters, and musical numbers. The Little Mermaid went on to win two Academy Awards for both Best Original Score and Best Original Score for “Under the Sea”.  In addition, the film’s overwhelming success led to a large franchise tag for Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which included two direct-to-video sequels (The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea in 2000 and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning in 2008), an animated TV series titled The Little Mermaid (1992-1994), which ran for three seasons / 31 episodes), and a stage musical that premiered on Broadway back in 2008. Now, after 34 years since its release, Walt Disney Studios and director Rob Marshall release the studio’s live-action reimagining of their beloved animated classic with the movie The Little Mermaid. Does this latest adaptation remake find merit within its “fish out of water” tale of a young mermaid’s love or is something “fishy” going on within this latest project from Disney?


Deep beneath the sea and faraway from the Human World above, Ariel (Halle Bailey) is a young teenage mermaid princess who dreams of a different life, evading the responsibilities and rules set by her over-protective father, King Triton (Javier Bardem), wishing she could interact with the human realm above the sea. Elsewhere, navigating the ocean waters is Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), a young prince working to rebuild his home island’s economy by exploring other lands, experiencing freedom and wonders throughout his travels. During a terrifying storm at sea, Eric’s ship is destroyed and the prince is thrown from the wreckage, leaving Ariel to save him, presenting the semi-conscious man with only a siren-esque song to remember. Sensing an opportunity to free herself control of the undersea kingdom and from frustration that she feels towards King Triton’s resentment towards humans, Ariel finds the sea witch, Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to make a deal with her. Using the naivety and youthful urge for love as a way to trick the impressionable mermaid, Ursula tricks Ariel into surrendering her voice in exchange for a human form, giving her three days to receive a true love kiss from Eric to make the transformation permanently. Pulled into Eric’s kingdom as a mute, Ariel hopes to win the prince’s heart, supported by her sea creature friends, Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), Flounder (Jacob Tremblay), and Scuttle (Awkwafina). However, as Ariel’s plan bear fruit, Ursula takes matters in her own hands, hoping to ensure that the young mermaid fails and seeks her ultimate endgame goals of taking Trident’s power for her own.


As I’ve stated many times before in some of my reviews, I’ve always been a fan of Disney’s animated films, especially since I grew up in the late 80s / 90s era of my childhood. This, of course, means that I grew up watching many of the animated films released during that era, especially the Disney ones. This meant that I grew up watching the original “big four” Disney films that began the so-called “Disney Renaissance” era, including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and (for this review importance) The Little Mermaid. I already went into a further detailed examination of 1989 in my cinematic flashback review for The Little Mermaid, so I won’t bog down this review with my thoughts on that particular film as much (be sure to check out my review in the “cinematic flashback” section). Suffice to say, that I loved (and still do) enjoy the original animated movie as it surely does embrace the now signature style that Disney has known for, with the usage of animation presentation of notable fairytale narratives of princesses, friendly animal companions, wicked villains, and musical songs to help express a character’s feelings / understanding. In the end, Disney’s 1989 The Little Mermaid still stands tall and proud for what it is…as the studio returned to its forgotten roots and back to what Disney animated features memorable through the usage of visuals style animation, colorful characters, animal sidekicks, and musical songs. A timeless classic that launched a decade long celebration of Disney’s cartoon motion picture storytelling.

This brings me back to talking about The Little Mermaid, a 2023 fantasy adventure musical and the latest film from Disney to be reimagined for a live-action adaptation. Given the track record of all the past endeavors that the studios have made in their reworking of their beloved cartoon classic for a new medium, it was almost a forgone conclusion that Disney would eventually come around to approaching their 1989 animated feature. Soon enough, an announcement was made from studio execs that The Little Mermaid would get the “live action” treatment in the same similar fashion that so many other popular titles from the company have received, including Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. Naturally, this notion got me quite interested, especially since The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite Disney cartoon movies that I grew up watching. In time, additional announcements were made about the film, including the project’s director (Rob Marshall) as well as other cast members (i.e. Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, and Javier Bardem). However, none was intriguing and more widely talked about than the casting of the role of Ariel, the main protagonist of the story, by a relatively unknown acting talent Halle Bailey. The debate / discussion of having an African American actress play the role of Ariel was (of course) the big talk on the internet on various platforms (social media outlets / online forums) and sparkled fans of the original film to be divided. Personally, I didn’t mind the decision over the ethnical choice for who to play the role of Ariel, so long as the actress playing her could hold her own and capture the essence of the character herself. In truth, the only thing that I was upset about was the fact that actress Zendaya, another African American actress, wasn’t awarded the part instead of Bailey. Zendaya, who has proven her acting chops in various projects, would’ve been perfect in the role and was a little miffed that she was going to play the part. Still, I got over it (unlike others with the choice) and was indeed curious to see what Bailey would bring to the iconic character of The Little Mermaid role of Ariel.

In time, the movie’s marketing campaign began to appear online and in theaters, with the film’s movie trailers teasing the upcoming live-action feature in its footage of representation of such iconic characters (both human and animals) and memorable songs from the story. From that alone, it looked quite interesting, but, given the fact that the recent Disney live-action feature film endeavors of late have been more misses than hits, I did have some lingering doubts that this movie would follow suit. However, I was determined to see the movie and decided to check out The Little Mermaid during its opening weekend. And what did I think of it? Well, it was better than most, but just average. While the movie does struggle within several areas in execution and translation, The Little Mermaid swims along in a familiar territory that will delight fans of the original and is bolstered by key performances from its hero and villain. The movie isn’t the best live-action remake that Disney has produced, but, given the reception that both Pinocchio and Peter Pan & Wendy have received, this latest reimagining is a better “part of your world” viewing experience.

The Little Mermaid is directed by Rob Marshall, whose previous directorial works include such films like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Into the Woods, and Mary Poppins Returns. Given his familiarity of working with Disney on past projects, Marshall seems like the most suitable choice to helm such an endeavor like this; approaching the original source material as a certain type of respect and understanding for what it is…..a beloved and classic animated feature. True enough, Marshall does a good job in reimagining The Little Mermaid within a new medium from animated to reality. This, unlike several other live-action remakes that the studio has done (i.e. Peter Pan and Wendy and Dumbo), most of the feature’s narrative plot points and storytelling beats are left untouched and are persevered in what makes The Little Mermaid…well….The Little Mermaid. This, of course, means that the main plot of the story is left intact and not much altered, which can be both a good and bad thing, especially considering how 2019’s The Lion King and 2022’s Pinocchio played out as “soulless remakes”. However, in my opinion, I think the keeping most of the feature’s plot and familiar lines works in the feature’s favor, especially since The Little Mermaid has been widely considered one of the better animated Disney films of the “Disney Renaissance” era and was able to achieve a lot within its cartoon narrative and within its relatively short runtime of 83 minutes (one hour and twenty-three minutes) length. Thus, there is plenty of nostalgia feeling while watching this particular film, with Marshall banking on that notion…..with good intent on the regard. Familiar scenes play out with new vibrancy and new punctation due to the live-action translation, a few dialogue lines from the original one are still great and wonderful to hear years later, and, for the most part, the story that Disney utilized in their reimagining of The Little Mermaid still remains true. Themes of isolation, curiosity, longing for a better life, a little bit of prejudice tolerance, and finding oneself place in the world are still on full display in this remake and certainly continues to speak to the narrative of a young teenage mermaid who is looking more from her life.

Like many Disney live-action remakes, this latest film adaptation of The Little Mermaid tries to expand upon its original tale and offers up plenty of new avenues for the story to explore and uncover. Given the short runtime that the aminated classic has, Marshall, along with the feature’s script writer David Magee, does this by adding more aspect narrative threads to the character of Prince Eric, who was very straight-forward in the original animated feature, and gets a little bit “more to do” in this live-action remake. It’s not without its faults as several elements don’t exactly pan out the correct way, but I felt that it was a welcomed addition to the story and helped expanded upon Eric’s circumstances rather than just a dashing human prince. In the end, whether you like it, hate it, or fall somewhere in-between, Marshall’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid plays its safe in a few areas, yet ultimately finds some of the same magnetic charm and energy that the 1989 animated feature was able to achieve. Again, it’s not the best live-action reimagining from Disney, but it’s a far better presentation and adaptation the some of late….and that’s kind of a good thing.

For its presentation, The Little Mermaid fits nicely along side the rest of their live-action remake endeavors, with plenty of production quality values that are heaped upon for this cinematic project. That’s not to say that the filmmaker overindulge and / or go “overboard” with the visual representation / presentation efforts, but the movie’s filmmakers and key players make the feature look visually lush and vibrant throughout most of the film. The aquatic under sea world is filled with design and offers some fantastical elements throughout, which creates some eye-popping imagery (most notable during the “Under the Sea” song), while the human world above is brought to life with a more sense of realism and grounded in Caribbean motifs and nuances rather than just a vague pseudo-European style that many have done before. Thus, the main “behind the scenes” players, including John Myhre (production design), Diana Samuila, Gordon Sim, and Katie Walker (set decorations), Colleen Atwood (costume design), and the entire art direction department, for their efforts on this particular project and making the movie’s visual world look colorful and inviting throughout. In addition, the film’s cinematography work by Dion Beebe offers up some fine piece of cinematics, which help bolster some of the dramatic and dynamic shots and sequences throughout the feature. The visual effects, however, are a little bit muddled sort of speak. Some parts are really good, while other times they are a bit subpar, which is strange since this movie is a Disney movie and the studio usually spares no expense. I’ll go into more detail below, but, suffice to say, the CGI renderings for this fantastical world are a bit “iffy” at times.

Lastly, the film’s score is still as superb as it was back in the 1989 animated movie, which is mostly due to the return of original composer Alan Menken. Menken’s work is still as palpable as ever and is clearly demonstrated throughout the movie in both the familiar melodies and tunes as well as other new pieces that the composer incorporates in this remake. Naturally, this brings up the subject of The Little Mermaid’s song, which are on full display in the movie, and are exactly how most remember them. Of course, one or two small numbers were cut from this adaptation and one dropped a few lines, but, for the most part, iconic and memorable songs from the 1989 film are preserved and are presented in a live-action presentation. The “Part of Your World” scene definitely hits the right way and still retains a lot of movements and dramatic poise, while “Poor Unfortunate Soul” captures the larger-than-life actions of Ursula’s voice and Faustian trickery. Other songs like “Under the Sea” and “Kiss the Girl” are still great and have some great visual flair that helps the movie in those respective scenes, yet I still feel that the 1989 animated film did a slightly better job. Still, all of these songs are presented (and sung) with equal measure of vocals and production quality to make the whole musical aspect of The Little Mermaid still lyrical and enjoyable.

Unfortunately, The Little Mermaid, despite its valiant attempts, struggles to find some footing in its cinematic undertaking and ends up being just an average adaptation rather than being a rousing success unlike other live-action treatments from Disney such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Cruella. How so? Well, for starters, the movie can’t overtake or replicate the same type of feeling and / or memorable moments that the 1989 animated feature was able to achieve. Yes, that’s usually the case with remakes, with the original mostly being considered superior to the reimagined one, but it becomes a bit more clear in this particular adaptation reworking. With the exception of a few sequences from the new movie, 1989’s The Little Mermaid seems to have done a better job in presenting several elements of the narrative in its cartoon realm rather than the live-action realm. From on-screen introductions, to how characters behave and interact with each other, how certain scenes are played out, to even iconic moments from 1989 are handled in rather weaker tone. Not all scenes are bad as there are several key parts that are handled with great effect and are clearly well-represented, but, alas, I felt that the original animated film did most of the other scene better. This is quite peculiar, especially since the cartoon movie had a much shorter runtime in comparison to this latest adaptation.

On the whole, I felt that the movie could’ve been better in its overall presentation and execution, which is a combination of both Marshall’s direction for the feature as well as the film’s script. For the direction, Marshall, while admirable trying to mimic some of the important scenes in the story, can’t effectively make the translation well enough to outshine the original animated endeavor. Plus, the film’s two halves (both under and above the sea) seems to be at war with one another, with the former having a more stark and emptiness, despite the colorful nature of the undersea world (the whole Kingdom of Atlantica feels nonexistent), while the latter is more livelier and full of hustle and bustle. Maybe that was the attention from Marshall’s direction, but I felt a bit more engaged with the story (both familiar and new additions) in the sequences that took place in the human world rather than underwater realm. The film’s script by Magee also has some problematic snags here and there, especially in trying to bring new additional storytelling elements to the proceedings. While I welcomed such ideas to help expand on the narrative and characters, the overall inconclusion, while interesting, very fully materialize to warrant them.

Another problem that the movie faces is in the addition of the new songs in the feature, which, while welcomed, don’t exactly measure up. While Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s work in the cartoon motion picture finds memorable lyrics with such songs like “Part of Your World”, “Under the Sea”, “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, and “Kiss the Girl”, 2023’s live-action adaptation utilizes a few new songs into the tale of Ariel’s journey to find love in the human Prince Eric, with acclaimed songwriter / actor Lin-Manuel Miranda stepping to compose / write the lyrics. Miranda’s past works speaks for themselves, especially with his contribution towards his own personal projects like Hamilton and In the Heights, but also in dealings with Disney’s endeavors such as Moana, Mary Poppins Returns, and Encanto. Thus, Miranda seems like the perfect fit for conjuring new material music and lyrics for The Little Mermaid. Unfortunately, the result is something is left to be desired, with the new songs not exactly hitting their mark. This includes the ballad “Wide Uncharted Waters” that focuses on Eric’s plight, inner monologue “For the First Time” that showcases Ariel’s first time human experiences, and “The Scuttlebutt”, which presented as a rap-esque duet between Sebastian and Scuttle. While these additions help fill some fragments of The Little Mermaid’s story that this particular uncovers, the result is that these are more subpar to the original songs. Even if one has never seeing the original 1989 film and experience the Disney version of The Little Mermaid for the very first time with this adaptation, one can easily see the difference between Menken / Ashman songs and Miranda’s songs in the narrative, with the two offering two different styles of two different minds.

Ariel’s sidekick companion friends are still ever present in the feature, yet, while the voice talent behind them are solid, their overall character designs are rather uninteresting and nowhere as compelling to their cartoon counterpart. This, of course, has been a problem for studio in the past in their live-action remakes, with most notably attention found in 2019’s reimagined adaptations of  The Lion King and Lady and Tramp, with both endeavors receiving criticism for the studio to electing to create photo-realistic animal characters that lacks facial expression and overall expressive mannerisms that animated creations were able to emote and display. The same can be said with many of the animal characters in The Little Mermaid, with the visual representation of beloved ones like Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle being compute generated with a sense of realism. This, of course, plays a part in the whole “live action” feel of the feature, yet it’s hard for us (the viewers) to fully buy into these colorful and animated characters that are stuck in a weird flux state of being of trying to look real and life-like, yet wanting to be cartoonishly dynamic and expressive. Thus, the visual representation of such characters such Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle seem quite off-putting throughout and seem out of place. Additionally, some of the other visual effect shots in the feature come off as wonky and outdated, which is special noticeable during the film’s climatic battle scene. The scene is murky, dark, and veiled with too much rain, which causes a lot of what’s going to be hard to see what exactly is going on, especially in Ursula’s appearance. Thus, this also make this scene end up feeling underwhelming and disappointing.

As for a minor point of criticism, I felt that some of the changes made in the film were a bit superfluous and unnecessary, especially in the grand scheme of things. This includes the renaming of Triton’s other daughters, name dropping / importance of the Coral Moon, the gender swapping of the character of Scuttle, the new plot point added in Ariel’s deal with Ursula, and the switching up of a few things during the final confrontation sequence. Of course, Disney has done this in the past with name changing and adding a few new details to important plot points in their live-action remakes, but these changes made in The Little Mermaid serve never fully materialize and / or just end up being rather underdeveloped right from the get-go.

What definitely helps the movie work beyond those points of criticisms is found within the cast of The Little Mermaid, with the selection of acting talents able and willing to play these beloved / memorable characters from the 1989 animated feature. Most do shine in their respective characters, while others just feel pretty average, lacking the screen presence and / or miscast in their roles. That being said, who actually shines the best….without question….is actress Halle Bailey, who plays the main protagonist character in Princess Ariel. As mentioned, Bailey, who is known for House of Payne, Let it Shine, and Grown-ish, is a somewhat relatively unknown acting talent and for her to step into the titular role of Princess Ariel of Atlantica, a very memorable and iconic Disney princess icon, was one of questionable debate amongst many (as mentioned above). While the controversy of the character being an African American has been widely talked about amongst many online, it’s quite reassuring that the ethnic skin color never distracts nor compromises what Bailey brings to the table in her iteration in the movie. In fact, Bailey is truly the shining star of the film and definitely carries the weight on the feature on her shoulders for most of the picture’s runtime. She cute and adorable within her physical appearance (a perfect example of the youthful teenager), yet still offers up the endearing qualities that made the character so memorable from the original Disney film….much like Benson did. In that regard, Bailey definitely succeeds (without question) and embodies the unbridled curiosity and youthful determination in the role of Ariel and makes for quite a compelling character to root for from onset to conclusion. This is even further exemplified in the latter half of the feature, which sees her character loose her voice and becomes a mute, with the actress emoting very vivid and expressive facial expressions to make convey her troubles, questions, and plights without uttering a single word. Furthermore, Bailey’s singing voice is dead on when she performs, especially with her rendition of “Part of Your World”, with one can hear the emotion and feeling throughout the performance. Overall, even if a viewer doesn’t really particularly care for this movie, there is no denying the fact that Bailey was exceptional in her portrayal of Ariel and makes for a perfect cast choice.

Following close behind Bailey’s Ariel, actress Melissa McCarthy does quite a memorable job in her performance of the film’s main antagonist villain Ursula, a vile and wicked sea witch. Known for her roles in Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy, McCarthy has always been best in playing roles of the comedic variety, which suits the actress’s talents. Although, she has dabbled in a few more dramatic roles (i.e. Can You Ever Forgive Me?). With The Little Mermaid, however, McCarthy gets the opportunity to play a bad guy character and definitely is up to the task, with her performance hamming it up beautifully from beginning to end. Of course, the role of Ursula has indeed being intergraded into the Disney brand name as the character has been a memorable villain in both The Little Mermaid cartoon feature as well as in all of the Disney villains catalogue. Thus, it goes without saying that the role of Ursula needed to be spot on in this particular translation and, in that regard, McCarthy excels whenever she’s on-screen in the villainous role. She definitely knows how to play the character and keeps Ursula true to form in how she acts, speaks, and guile into luring a naive mermaid princess into her ultimate plan. She definitely channels Pat Carroll’s iconic vocal performance from the original 1989 movie into her portrayal of Ursula, which is kind of a good thing, for Carroll’s portrayal was fantastic. McCarthy doesn’t overtake or try to “out do” Carroll, but definitely harmonizes with it and helps translate the cruel sea witch character from cartoon to live-action. Plus, McCarthy does interject some of her own style of humor and presence into the role, which (again) helps make the character such a delight whenever on-screen. There isn’t a whole lot added to her character, so the screen time of Ursula is pretty much the same amount given in the animated feature, but that didn’t bother me at all. In the end, with maybe the exception of Cate Blanchett’s Lady Tremaine in 2015’s Cinderella and Idris Elba’s Shere Khan in 2016’s The Jungle Books as well as Emma Thompson’s Baroness in 2021’s Cruella (though her character is a new creation in the movie’s prequel narrative), Melissa McCarthy does an exception job as Ursula and creates a memorable role in the film.

Who actually ends up being the weakest casting decision (as well as the character) is found in the portrayal of King Triton, the protective father of Ariel and King of Atlantica, who is played by actor Javier Bardem. Known for his roles in No Country for Old Men, Skyfall, and Dune, Bardem has become quite a capable actor with several memorable roles underneath his career belt. Thus, much like McCarthy, he was considered to be one of the more “big ticketed” stars to be attached to the feature, yet there is something lacking in his performance. Yes, he definitely looks the part of the powerful and commanding King Triton of Atlantica (the hair / make-up team were spot on their part) and he certainly has lofty and kingly presence in the role. That being said, Bardem (to simply put it) lacks the vocal presence in the film and comes off as more of a passive protective parental figure rather than a more commanding and authoritative father for Ariel. Several scenes from the original cartoon that showcase Triton’s angry and aggression were truly brilliant and voice actor Kenneth Mars did a tremendous job in displaying that anger with such vigor and gravitas. Bardem, on the other hand, lacks that aggression and those same sequences in this new movie come off as weak. To me, it’s really frustration because I do like Bardem as an actor and many of the roles that he has played throughout his career, yet its hard not to see that Bardem was, for the most part, a miscast in the feature.

The last main player of the principal cast comes in the form of Prince Eric, the dashing human prince of the nearby island kingdom that falls in love with Ariel throughout the film, and who is played by actor Jonah Hauer-King. Known for his roles in Little Women, A Dog’s Way Home, and Postcards from London, Hauer-King, like Bailey, is a relatively unknown acting talent and is placed in the lead role of the feature as the role of the young Prince that Ariel falls in love with. In truth, Hauer-King is a capable actor and gives what he can in the role of Eric and, with the additional new scenes integrated into the main plot, gives a more dynamic and more well-rounded portrayal of the character than the 1989 film was able to achieved. Thus, of all the characters in the movie, Prince Eric benefits the most from this live-action adaptation. That being said, Hauer-King lacks the magnetic presence as his co-stars, including Bailey, and is sort of just there in the role, never really being memorable enough nor deplorable to warrant those two extremes. Plus, his singing voice in “Wild Uncharted Waters” is just okay. All in all, Hauer-King is adequate in the role of Prince Eric, neither being good nor bad the role. However, I do have to say that both Hauer-King and Bailey look very cute together and their scenes together, especially the ones during the ”Kiss the Girl” song are compelling to watch.

For the animal companions friends of Ariel (Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle) may not have the best visual representation, but are still well-met (and well-acted) by the voice talents behind them, which includes actors Daveed Diggs (Hamilton and Snowpiercer) and Jacob Tremblay (Wonder and Good Boys), and actress Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell). Of the three, Diggs shines the most as Sebastian and does a great job in bringing the character of Sebastian to life, which offers a combination of the actor’s humor and heart in something that only Diggs can accomplish. Tremblay is solid in the role of Flounder and youthful nervous-sounding voice is the perfect example of Flounder, but the character is somewhat less important in this remake and sort of gets push aside more and more as the narrative progressive, which is disappointing. As for Scuttle, Awkwafina does want Awkwafina is known for and becomes a very outspoken and comical character in the movie. Some people might find Awkwafina annoying in the role of Scuttle, but, it wasn’t cringeworthy or utterly annoying as some are making it out to be. I guess it depends on what you think of Awkwafina as an actress and the characters that she usually plays. For my part, I enjoyed her and I didn’t find much about the character that I did not like. Although, I’m still not quite sure why the film decide to change the gender of Scuttle from a male to a female.

The rest of the cast, including actor Art Malik (True Lies and A Passage to India) as Erik’s faithful royal majordomo Sir Grimsby, actress Noma Dumezweni (Mary Poppins Returns and Black Earth Rising) as Eric’s mother / the Queen, actress Martina Laird (Casualty @ Holby City and EastEnders) as one of the maids in Eric’s castle named Lashana, actress Emily Coates (The Great and Cursed) as a young maid in Eric’s castle named Rosa, actors Christopher Fairbanks (The Guardians of the Galaxy and The Fifth Element) and John Dagleish (The Third Day and Judy) as Eric’s shipmates Hawkins and Mulligan, actor Jude Akuwudike (Sahara and Beast of No Nation) as the fisherman Joshua, and actresses Lorena Andrea (Warrior’s Nun and Papillion), Simone Ashley (Sex Education and Broadchurch), Karolina Conchet (The Bird and Magdalene), Sienna King (Love Locs and Sunday Dinner), Kajsa Mohammar (Misbehaviour and Savage), and Nathalie Sorrell (Hotel Very Welcome) as Ariel’s sisters and the daughters of King Triton (renamed for the film) as Perla, Indira, Mala, Tamika, Karina, and Caspia respectfully, round out the minor supporting characters in the film. Naturally, some of these characters have a bit large parts than others, but, for the sum parts of their limited screen time, these particular acting talents are fine in their respective roles. Additionally, there is a cast member from the 1989 animated film that makes an appearance in the film and, while I won’t spoil the scene where he / she appears, the inclusion of her cameo-like appearance is indeed a welcomed one.


Longing to find more in her life and what lies above the human world, the mermaid Princess Ariel strikes Faustian deal with a sea witch to become human in order to find love within the dashing Prince Eric in the movie The Little Mermaid. Director Rob Marshall’s latest film takes the iconic (and beloved) 1989 Disney classic cartoon film and reimagines it for a new audience and under a new live-action translation that generates plenty of fun nostalgia feeling for older fans and colorful engagement for newer ones. While the movie does struggle in outshine the original as well as several problematic areas in its CGI visual rendering, some welcomed (yet unimpressive) new addition, and a few average performances, the movie manages to come out on better than most live-action remakes from Disney, with special thanks to a few pieces of Marshall’s direction, a colorful presentation, preserving several key parts of translating scenes from the cartoon to live-action, and some great portrayals of these iconic characters, including Bailey and McCarthy. Personally, I thought that this movie was okay. It definitely had its moments were the feature was great, yet there is still something missing that the original 1989 animated film was able to achieve, which still makes the classic better than the remake. Bailey and McCarthy encapsulated the essence of their characters and carried the movie in every scene that they were in, but it felt like certain aspects in and around the project felt misplaced and uneven. It was probably the better live-action Disney remake of late, but it’s….more of the same in just an average adaptation. Thus, my recommendation for this movie is an “iffy choice” for most people out there as well as a “rent it” for others. While The Little Mermaid Disney franchise has indeed expanded beyond the cartoon motion picture, there is a possibility that Disney could continue with more live-action sequels and prequels that follow Ariel’s journey. However, while the option is open, I think it’s best for the studio to leave that said option closes and just stick with original story adaptation. In the end, The Little Mermaid, while not the absolute “must see” quintessential release from the “house of mouse”, still retains enough charm, energy, and engagement to keep this reimagined (and somewhat averagely decent) feature afloat from sinking……under the sea.

3.5 Out of 5 (Iffy-Choice / Rent It)


Released On: May 26th, 2023
Reviewed On: May 30th, 2023

The Little Mermaid  is 135 minutes long and is rated PG for action / peril and some scary images

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