Quick Plot Summary
For those that needs a quick refresh on the plot of the movie, Ariel is a curious and spirited young mermaid, has an insatiable fascination with humans, particularly a prince she once rescued from the sea. Her heart is captivated, and she falls deeply in love with him. However, her father, King Triton, strictly forbids her from interacting with humans. Ariel's determination to be with her beloved prince leads her to strike a perilous deal with the cunning sea witch, Ursula. In exchange for her voice and the chance to become human, Ariel must fulfill a contract that requires a true love's kiss. But Ursula, with her own sinister agenda, has no intention of letting Ariel achieve her goal. The story culminates in a dramatic battle between Ariel, the prince, and Ursula. In the end, Ursula meets her demise, and Ariel's father, King Triton, witnesses the depth of his daughter's love. Touched by her devotion, King Triton decides to make Ariel human himself, ensuring that the young couple can live happily ever after on land.
My daughter has been eagerly requesting to watch the latest live-action Disney movie, The Little Mermaid. While her best friend had the chance to see it in theaters as soon as it was released, we hesitated due to the movie's PG rating. We believed that in the often unpredictable setting of a public cinema, we might struggle to guide her through any potentially intense or realistic scenes. Our plan was to wait for the movie to become available on Disney+ so that we could have the option to pause or skip parts that we felt might be too much for her. As it turns out, our caution may have been unnecessary. Yes, some scenes in the new movie are more realistic than those in the original 1989 animated version. However, I've exposed my kids to scenes from Transformers live-action movies without any negative impact, like nightmares or behavioral issues. So I take no issue with this film.
My critique of the film doesn't center on its realistic elements but rather on other aspects. First and foremost, I must say that my daughter absolutely adored this rendition of the classic tale. My son, on the other hand, found it okay but lost interest in the middle, as did I, to be honest. It was an exceptionally long movie. The 1989 classic clocked in at a mere 83 minutes, whereas the new live-action adaptation stretches on for 2 hours and 15 minutes. I found myself needing a break after about 90 minutes and called for a family intermission.
The singing in the movie was, for the most part, excellent. "Part of Your World" is an iconic song, and attempting to outdo the original would be a tall order for anyone. However, Halle Bailey did an admirable job, particularly in the line, "Love to explore that shore above," where she skillfully played with the tone of the word "above." On the flip side, her rendition of "more" in "No big deal, I want more!" did not resonate with me. In my opinion, the delivery in the movie fell short, although I did come across a live performance clip where she sang it with a softer touch, which I found to be much better.
The film has garnered attention for changing the skin tone of the main character, Ariel. Personally, I didn't take issue with this change, mainly due to the alterations made to the initial scene. Instead of a concert where the daughters sang for their king father, it was portrayed as an annual meeting, similar to a G20 summit. This setup made it plausible for each daughter to look different, reflecting the human counterparts from their respective regions of the world. However, I did have reservations about the decision to transform Prince Eric into an adopted son and make Queen Selina a dark-skinned character. While it seems like Disney aimed to embrace color-blind casting with these changes, unlike the alterations to Ariel and her sisters, I struggled to see why this was necessary. Surely, there could have been more meaningful ways to introduce diversity into the storyline.
In summary, these are my criticisms of the new Little Mermaid movie. Whether I like it or not, I anticipate watching this movie at least a dozen more times, purchasing more merchandise, and the like in the near future. Ultimately, what matters most is that my daughter loves it. What are your thoughts?