“The Little Mermaid” shows there indeed can be wonderful things on the ocean floor, and above the sea… at least in the photo-realistic re-imagining of the story, that is.
There initially was concern about the modern live-action re-imagining of the studio’s Oscar-winning animated musical classic. But Disney did the smart thing by taking its time with an adaptation.
In doing so, the new version delivers all the feels of the animated film but also doesn’t get stuck in a near-identical adaptation. We learn more about the characters from the animated film but also get a colourful look into the film’s oceanic world.
There has, rightfully, been concern about how the film would deliver with Disney live-action remakes being hit-and miss but this one knocks it out of the ocean.
And I know a whole new generation will fall in love with the story of Ariel.
Many others knowledgeable of her story will rediscover her and find out they have room to love the two versions of Ariel.
Delivering a performance that will have viewers falling in love with her, Halle Bailey shines in a role, which comes with a lot of baggage.
Bailey is well-known for her music and others may recognise her for her TV work.
Her performance as Ariel is fierce and charming and, given that she has a mind of her own, she is wholly realised.
Where Bailey truly captures hearts is her emotive vocal performance. Her voice is remarkable and the music shines because of it.
Filmmaker Rob Marshall must be commended for how he crafted the underwater world seen on screen, as it manages to be visually vibrant but also dark when it needs to be.
The advertising campaign missed the mark, creating baggage that the film didn’t need. The action scenes are exciting and the musical numbers are a delight.
One such musical number many will be happy to hear is “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, sung by Melissa McCarthy.
While McCarthy’s performance won’t escape the camp of critics, who would have preferred a drag queen take on the role of Ursula, she surprises and delivers a performance that pops.
And she musters the grit and power needed to deliver a rendition of the song which will delight viewers.
There are moments when the film does meander but that is mostly when they have to move between the new scenes with scenes from the animation being adapted.
Thankfully, those moments are not entirely drab and it just accentuates when the film is working at its optimal best.
The rest of the cast delivers great supporting performances with Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Noma Dumezweni as the Queen and, with Javier Bardem as King Triton.
Bardem charms and is clearly having fun as he portrays King Triton. His performance is earnest and his love for Ariel undoubted.
Bailey and Bardem really make their relationship work in their scenes together.
The film has an epic and thrilling ending with Marshall delivering on a grand scale but one which manages to remain grounded in reality.
“The Little Mermaid” is at its simplest the quintessential story of an outsider that everyone can connect with.
In this modern retelling, many will walk away having fallen in love with Bailey’s Ariel, and feeling not only seen but also moved by her story.
“The Little Mermaid” is out in cinemas nationwide on Friday.