Run Time: 2hr and 15mins
Where to watch: Theaters
Release date: May 26th
Synopsis: A young mermaid makes a deal with a sea witch to trade her beautiful voice for human legs so she can discover the world above water and impress a prince.
Starring: Halle Bailey (“Grown-ish”) as Ariel; Jonah Hauer-King (“A Dog’s Way Home”) as Eric; Daveed Diggs (“Hamilton”) as the voice of Sebastian; Awkwafina (“Raya and the Last Dragon”) as the voice of Scuttle; Jacob Tremblay (“Room”) as the voice of Flounder; Noma Dumezweni (“Mary Poppins Returns”) as The Queen; Art Malik (“Homeland”) as Sir Grimsby; with Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men,” “Being the Ricardos”) as King Triton; and Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” “Bridesmaids”) as the infamous Ursula.
Is It Worth Watching?
When it was announced that The Little Mermaid was being brought to life in a live-action film, my worries that it would be a failed attempt started to bubble up. As the cast was announced and I learned that Halley Baily was going to be Ariel, my concerns subsided a little; still, I was not quite sure what Disney had in store. Soon enough, I found myself at a press screening fully immersed in the film. To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. Let’s get into what I loved about this beautiful film.
Bailey as Ariel was endearingly beautiful; her performance nothing less than magical. She embodied every bit of the character that I loved growing up, even down to her body language. Specifically, there was something about the overhead shots of her facial expression as she dreamed of the world on land that moved me. I felt her need to be a part of the world above.
Of course, she killed the singing parts. Her voice was smooth, elegant, and moving…just as anticipated. I’m pretty sure the soundtrack will get tons of streams because of her. Much credit is due, though, to the music composers as the arrangement was amazing. It’s no surprise that producer Lin-Manuel Miranda (creator of Broadway’s “In The Heights” and “Hamilton“) had a hand in that.
Daveed Diggs gave a commendable performance as Sebastion. He was most notably funny when his character interacted and sang with Scuttle, voiced by Awkwafina. The song performances were enjoyable, but for some reason, the original performance by Samuel E. Wright just holds a special place in my heart. I might be a little biased because I watched the movie several times growing up, probably too many times to count. Wright’s performance was so amazing that Disney gave him his own concert.
Awkafina’s Scuttle was hilarious and just as good as the original performance. In my opinion, she made the lovably annoying character that much more charismatic. She was one of the funniest in the film.
Javier Bardem played a convincing King Triton, but I wasn’t surprised since he masters pretty much any role he plays. He brought the right amount of strength and regalness to the role of King Triton, very much resembling that of the original Triton from the animated feature. There was wonderful father-daughter chemistry between him and Halle.
Melissa McCarthy continues to impress me with her more serious performances. She was menacing, manipulative, and nothing less than exceptional as the evil Ursula. I was quite impressed with her musical number. Combined with the special effects and make-up, she was convincingly scary. Her evil laugh was something that stuck out to me and really brought home how evil Ursula truly is.
I did enjoy the other characters (including Eric and Flounder), but the side character I liked most was Sir Grimsly, played by Art Malik. Malik’s performance was warm and loving. He gave off the feeling that Grimsly was heavily invested in Eric’s happiness. I also saw him as a surrogate dad and mentor, which Eric needed.
I must applaud the costume design for this film. The various color schemes and patterns used to represent each mermaid and each person on land were awesome. I particularly liked the costume of Ariel’s Sister, Tamika (played by Sienna King). Her outfit was exceptionally beautiful with an orange and blue pattern. Plus, she had natural big hair, which I loved!
The CGI and special effects were done well. It’s especially difficult when scenes are primarily underwater, but the effects team did a good job. The only gripe I have is that when Ursula grew to her enormous size (as she does in the animated feature), it doesn’t look as aesthetically pleasing. But this scene is one that’d be difficult to pull off for any effects team.
Overall, The Little Mermaid is a captivating and well-crafted film that everyone can enjoy! From the design, music composition, costumes, and acting, this is one of the best live-action films Disney has made. Check out the film with family, friends, and lovers of the childhood classic on Friday, May 26th.