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The Little Mermaid (2023) - An Attractive Live-action Adaptation

The Little Mermaid (2023), directed by Rob Marshall, is the 1989 Disney cartoon turned live-action. The director explored the theme of letting go through the relationships between characters in the film. This movie was released on May 26 this year and excited many people since they earlier released trailers and bits from the movie. It felt kind of awkward watching the first part since I’d seen the cartoon beforehand. I did enjoy the latter half until the end, especially because of the scenes in the water. Overall, I would say the original is better than the adaptation.


The film opens with a scene in the water where King Triton, played by Javier Bardem, and his daughters met during the Coral Moon, where the king’s youngest daughter was nowhere to be seen. Later it is revealed that Ariel, played by Halle Bailey, was wandering around in the ocean waiting for any human activity to occur from above. The visuals were amazing and very pleasing to the eyes, but some things were just not like before. 


They tried their best to make the elements look realistic and they did well with that, but it seems as if some characters lost their emotion. When the audience first encountered Flounder, voiced by Jacob Tremblay, it was crushing to see what they had done to him. He looked lifeless and scary, almost because they made him into a real-life flounder. This took a toll on people’s perception of the character.  Seeing other creatures in the ocean was also a little funny knowing they don’t speak in real life, but in this story they do. 


Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King in the film, was one of the better-executed roles in this adaptation. He is as oblivious and shallow as he was in the original in the beginning, but as you went deeper into the film, there is more emotion and depth shown through his character because he is not only voiced, but also played by a human being. 


Ursula, played by Melissa McCarthy, became a successful villain in the story. Her persona from the cartoon was brought to life accurately through the live-action adaptation. The transformation from Ursula to Vanessa, played by Jessica Alexander, was also done well, making the audience gasp when she was revealed. 


Despite the thrill that was passed around to people before the film came out, they received a lot of backlash as well. According to a Vox report, many netizens were upset about the historical inaccuracy that was portrayed in the film. A lot say that the difference between the mermaids back in the cartoon movie versus those in the live-action completely changes your view. Some also expressed that Halle Bailey is an exceptional actress and singer, but not quite the best fit for the role. 


The music in this film is just as good as the one in the original movie, and to see the performances be brought to life was astonishing. In Sebastian's performance of “Under the Sea,” voiced by Daveed Diggs, the moving sea creatures became a perfect visual aid for the song’s performance. If I were Ariel, that would be enough reason for me to stay under the sea. Another film highlight through the musical aspect would be their performance of “Kiss the Girl” when Ariel’s friends manipulated the scenery as she and the prince went on the boat ride. This part of the movie was also the turning point for Prince Eric as he was willing to give up looking for the “girl” because he enjoyed his time with the one who is in front of her. 


This movie made me feel a ton of different emotions while viewing it, but the visuals and the audio are the highlights of the film for me. I would give this movie a 7/10 since it’s not my favorite live-action movie adaptation from Disney, but it was a decent one; and, while this movie was great overall, I would still prefer the original version.