‘The Little Mermaid’, review: a timid tribute that fails to dazzle

In The little Mermaidby Rob Marshall Ariel (Halle Bailey) has an enormous curiosity about the surface world. Also, an almost irrepressible need to discover her secrets and the differences she keeps with the underwater kingdom in which she was born. The script by Jane Goldman and David Magee strives to show that the character’s main emotion is enthusiasm for everything that happens beyond the sea.

This is a slight nuance that makes it different from the 1989 film. If the original suggested that the idealistic heart of its protagonist was looking for love, on this occasion, he wants knowledge. In The little Mermaid of Rob Marshall, the youngest of the daughters of Triton (Javier Bardem) is looking for a purpose.

Although, of course, she will end up falling in love—and it will be her passionate feelings that drive the plot—this version of the classic figure runs deeper. A willful teenager who stands up to her father because of her wisdom, rather than the mere naiveté of her rebellion.

The little Mermaid

Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid is Disney’s best live action yet. But that is not to say that it has completely overcome the problems of a generic aesthetic and an unclear objective that accompany the rest of the productions of the genre. With poor visuals but solid performances, the film has an uneven pace that becomes more obvious towards its flat, predictable ending. However, Halle Bailey’s performance and the emphasis on Ariel’s personality give the plot a remarkable personality. Despite its excessive length and its lack of ingenuity to highlight how exciting and fantastic its story is, it is a respectful tribute to the classic and opens the door for other more profound works in the same style.

Score: 3.5 out of 5.

The first problems of The little Mermaid

Revisiting a classic—much more on the level of a John Musker and Ron Clements film—is always a risk, so The little Mermaid don’t take too many. With aquatic scenes that are closer to animation than cinematic finishing, the first half hour pays tribute to the film from which it came. In fact, the first scenes, with the classic song fanthoms bellowhave a noticeable resemblance to the 1989 animated.

However, one of the low points of the live action of The little Mermaid It is its visual section, with digital effects that on more than one occasion hinder the narration. The underwater world that Ariel inhabits is lacking, noticeably unreal, and with some obvious lighting issues. The difficulty of translating the beloved characters from the original narrative into a realistic image also becomes evident.

both the crab Sebastian (Daveed Diggs) as flunder (Jacob Temblay) have a dingy, mechanical look. Even so, the talent of both actors is entertaining enough to sustain each of their scenes. The same could be said of scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina), in whose few appearances he adds vibrant humor to the story. It is, of course, curious, the fact of her gender change, but the interpreter manages to maintain her good humor and her ability to make people laugh. That, despite the fact that most of the jokes and puns from the original are not present.

A star in the depths of the sea

But it is certainly halle bailey the most vital point in a correct and low risk film. The actress prints her role in The little Mermaid an indomitable and firm air that surprises during the first sequences. However, she shows a vulnerability that gives the incarnation of the classic siren unexpected nuances. Before she rebel against her father, Ariel he tries to define his own path and answer his deep spiritual questions. Something that the interpreter manages to transmit with subtle strength. Her search for her great discoveries — and, later, her defense of her love — is as genuine as it is sincere.

The little mermaid and Eric in the classic boat scene from the original Disney

At the same time, the singer’s vocal talent adds an important emotional element to The little Mermaid. It is the musical numbers that give the film a much more energetic and well-constructed rhythm than one might suppose. With some lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the well-remembered melodies of the original evolve for a more adult audience and a new sensibility. However, the change is not so noticeable that the musician’s mark is very evident in the feature film.

Carefully, The little Mermaid builds its section of new songs, interspersing news with the much-loved original lyrics. Some differences are obvious, but, in general, the actress’s ability to convey emotions is an element that elevates the feature film to a level unlike any other. live action. In fact, it is the extraordinary interpretation of the iconic Part of Your World the one that sets the tone of the film and gives it its best part. Also, one of the most moving sequences from him. To highlight, the change of the letter in Kiss The Girl, the iconic scene of the great first kiss between the leading couple. From the old one, which insisted on love and insinuated that stealing a kiss was necessary, the new melody suggests love as a bond that must be shared and undoubtedly accepted between both lovers.

The strengths of live action

The plot dedicates time to deepen the links that unite the protagonist with her world and context. Javier Bardem embodies a king who, without falling into the authoritarian, has a deep connection with the ocean and rules with ancient wisdom. However, the script suggests a certain darkness that he is very noticeable in the first confrontation that he has with Ariel.

Halle Bailey stars in The Little Mermaid, the live action of the original Disney

On the other hand, Ariel’s sisters are an addition that provides substance to the relationship of a loving, but unique family. Pearl (Lorraine Andrea) Karina (Kajsa Mohammar), Indira (Simone Ashley) caspian (Nathalie Sorrel) Bad (Karolina Conchet) and Tameja (Sienna King) have distinct personalities and, for the most part, kind. However, the relationship between all of them is not explored enough and is left in the background almost immediately.

In The little Mermaid, this timeless universe suspended in time is a territory where knowledge is obtained through experience. Which makes your decision to understand the world beyond its limits have greater meaning and weight.

If Ariel previously felt a naive amazement for human beings, now she is accompanied by a strong sense of the need to understand the unknown. What makes the second section of the film the best of its argument and the most emotional of the entire production.

A new sentimental partner for The little Mermaid

Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) is perhaps the character that shows the most changes from the original. From the flat prince of the animated film, the actor manages to build a sensitive man who finds an intellectual equal in Ariel. Not only in the way they understand each other—their scenes together are the high points of the film—but also in the way they fall in love. In the adaptation of The little Mermaid, love is not accidental. Much less a magical fact. It is, in reality, a bond that grows stronger as both protagonists discover mutual respect.

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If any message establishes the film it is that Ariel and Eric they are not predestined to love. In fact, for her the experience is new and unexpected. Her visit to the human world is in no way related to chasing a fugitive image of an impossible romance. In the biggest change in the well-known history of The little Mermaid, Ariel you want adventure and love is one more adventure. Certainly not the only one and, although it is of considerable importance, it is not central to his life.

Giving your main character such individuality modifies his story and gives new dimensions to his behavior. Ariel she is not a victim of circumstance, nor is she a hostage to her fate. She is a willful creature looking for her place in the world and, when she finds it, she knows that she will have to make decisions to be happy, not to be loved.

A wicked and angry witch

In his debut in the live action, ursula (Melissa McCarthy) is pure rage delivered with poisonous slowness. The script makes the decision to explore her resentment against Triton, rather than just her malice. Gradually, the character abandons the stereotype—without seeking vindication or redemption—and her motives become more understandable. The evil figure desires power. For well-founded reasons and not as vague as envy. A nuance that the interpreter skilfully deepens.

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We could already understand it in its previous version. But in The little Mermaid by Rob Marshall it is important to delve into why the villain of the story cannot do anything but take revenge.

The actress brings a festive, cynical and gloomy sense of humor to her role. Something that evolves as history provides more space to reflect on evil as the consequence of a fact and not as an accidental issue.

The little Mermaid does not meet expectations

But if something regrets The little Mermaid it is the inability of the film to maintain the good rhythm of its first hour until its conclusion. Also, his refusal to delve into fantasy and color in favor of a realistic air. The underwater scenes lack vibrancy, and while Halle Bailey brings a dynamic pace to all of her appearances, the rest seems dull by contrast.

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The little Mermaid it manages to overcome the generic tone problems of other recent Disney productions, but it still does not become essential. With no greater contribution to the story than a more determined Ariel, an Eric dazzled by his intelligence and a resentful Ursula, the story seems incomplete. At its best, it pays a respectful tribute to the timeless work that preceded it, which has become a movie classic. Is it enough to justify its existence? It is the big question that remains unanswered.

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‘The Little Mermaid’, review: a timid tribute that fails to dazzle