HomeMoviesThe Little Mermaid: Rob Marshall’s live action review

The Little Mermaid: Rob Marshall’s live action review

The Little Mermaid: Rob Marshall’s live action review

The Little Mermaid movie review
Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises

This review of The little Mermaid he will try to put aside months, indeed years of social complaints to focus on the one thing that, in terms of cinema, should really count: the success or otherwise of a film, when it is finally projected on the big screen. And that’s what we will do, given that, more than five years after the announcement of Halle Bailey as protagonist of the Rob Marshall film, on May 24 The Little Mermaid arrives at the cinemadistributed by The Walt Disney Company.

The Little Mermaid, the plot

As with almost all Disney live action remakes in recent years, the plot of this version of the The little Mermaid follows that of the animated classic, with the teenager Ariel, youngest daughter of the King of the Sea, Triton, passionate about the world of humans, a world that her father tells her is very dangerous, forbidding her to go to the surface. Nothing more mathematical than forbidding a teenager to do something to get the opposite effect, even at the bottom of the sea. And so Ariel comes into contact with humans, even saving one from a shipwreck. Prince Eric, the castaway in question, becomes Ariel’s obsession, and the Sea Witch, Ursula, eager to take the power of King Triton, sees in this stubborn and rebellious daughter the lock with which to insinuate herself on the throne of the Sea.

The Little Mermaid Halle Bailey
Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises

Halle Bailey is spectacular

Although everyone has a personal taste that will make them approach this live action with a different degree of openness or prejudice, it is good to immediately make things clear: although the casting of Halle Bailey has caused much discussion due to the performer’s ethnicity, once seen on the screen, the new Ariel can do nothing but make all the spectators fall in love with her. Equipped with an incredible voice and a physicality very suitable for the role, Bailey is a perfect Ariel, who certainly has no fear of confronting a titanic Melissa McCarthy, as Ursula’s tentacled shoes. Twice nominated for an Oscar and able to range with agility between the comic and the tragic register, McCarthy gives voice and body to a Sea Witch in dazzling, bewitching, calculating and very bad form. Between two such giants it is really difficult to find space for other noteworthy characters, the good man knows it well Javier Bardemwhich is perhaps really the only fish out of water in the film, or Jonah Hauer-King who plays an unpublished Eric who shines more in the writing phase than in the interpretative one.

Finally an identity for Prince Eric

One of the most relevant changes in the film is in fact related to Prince Eric who in this live action remake of The little Mermaid he is an adopted heir to the throne, fatherless and eager to discover the world, fascinated by the seas not yet drawn on the maps, a great collector of objects brought back to his island from travels and raised by his mother, Queen Selina (a character created especially for live action) in terror of the people of the sea and the strength of the waves that, from generation to generation, erode the coasts of the island. The screenwriters Jane Goldman And David Magee they were careful to give structure to the character, an emotional touchpoint with Ariel, an elective affinity with this rebellious daughter of the Sea King who wants to see the world and collects objects found in the wrecks of galleons. On these narrative foundations, the love story is much more solid and structured, we dare say more credible if we weren’t afraid of offending the purists of the animation film.

Photo by Giles Keyte. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Alan Menkel and Lin Manuel-Miranda on the music of The Little Mermaid

Alan Menkel reworked his splendid original score, adjusting some lyrics to suit contemporary sensibilities, eliminating some songs that did not serve the new flow of the story, and writing, together with Lin Manuel-Miranda, other new passages, which help to give solidity and richness to different moments of the story. First of all the arrival of Ariel, with her new legs, at the fishing village around the castle, or Prince Eric who sings to the sea his desire for adventure and his frustration at being the heir to a kingdom that he does not want to rule. However, net of the new songs that give depth to the story, it is as undeniable as the great musical classics of the film, above all “Part of your world” And “Under the Sea”are still powerful and immortal today, revisited by the new voices chosen for the film.

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The secret is in the dubbing

Even in the less happy elements of the realization, or Ariel’s talking animal friends, The little Mermaid he manages to find ways to soften that slightly creepy look they take on Sebastian, Flounder And Scuttle in their realization in computer graphics undecided between a realistic look and a more cartoonish one, which certainly goes better with the fact that these animals speak and sing. The secret of these crashed designs that Disney thought could be fine is in fact the dubbing: Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay And Awkwafina they deliver delightful performances. And while Tremblay perfectly conveys the sweet and slightly shy personality of the little fish, Diggs and Awkwafina are an irresistible comic duo, a very important added value to the film. The impression that it could have been done better in the design phase does not pass, but it is undeniable that the contribution of the interpreters gives the characters a spirit that goes beyond the paucity of design.

The secret of this The little Mermaid it’s all here: the film she has a great spirit that comes mainly from the sweetness and talent of an unprecedented and modern Ariel, not so much in character, which she already was originally, but in attitude. What could have been a huge misstep of the Disney instead it turns out to be one of the best live action remakes ever from the House of baby mouseat the levels of The Lion King Of Jon Favreau. A romantic adventure, a story of freedom and self-determination that speaks to today and that gives new life to a magic and to the notes that made the history of cinema in the 90s.