The Little Mermaid (2023) Image

The Little Mermaid (2023)

By Alan Ng | May 26, 2023

The animation suffers in much the same way Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast did. Trying to make the settings and locations take place in an actual ocean with real fish loses the magic that only animation can provide. Hand-drawn animation’s simple shapes, lines, and colors look more vibrant and playful than photorealistic characters and backdrops. Hand-drawn animation’s exaggerated facial expressions and body language are lost in trying to be authentic to nature. Again, you lose the magic, and kids will notice this. “Under The Sea” was underwhelming.

You can quote me on this, but the mermaids in The Little Mermaid look creepy as hell. You can tell that the merfolk are simple celebrity faces pasted onto animated bodies, and the quality is horrendous. Also, as much as I liked McCarthy as Ursula, her half-human, half-octopus left much to be desired and pales compared to the original.

(L-R): Halle Bailey as Ariel, Sebastian (voiced by Daveed Diggs), and Scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina) in Disney’s live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2023 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“…there are things traditional animation does better than CGI.”

This brings me to my final point about how there are things traditional animation does better than CGI. Two moments that stood out were the horse and buggy ride where Ariel takes over the reins. The potential danger and destruction of the out-of-control horses were fully animated in the original while only implied through selective editing here. Then there’s the final scene where King Triton appears before Ariel and Eric. It’s marred by goofy camera composition, unintentionally making the audience laugh. This scene looked grand in the animated feature.

So, is Halle Bailey taking over Jodi Benson’s spot as the top princess? I hope not. Look, Bailey is lovable and likable as Ariel, but Benson (and the team of animators) did it better. Toy sales will say a lot about who the real winner is. As good as Bailey is, her rendition of “Part of Your World” fails in so many ways. Yes, she made it her own, but her staccato accent on each word did it in for me. This turned what should’ve been a soothing ballad into an anxiety-ridden protest song.

Could this version of The Little Mermaid stand alone if the original didn’t exist? Possibly. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s songs and story structure remain intact and are its only salvation. But, again, why watch the live-action remake when the original is so much better and suited more for kids? This film didn’t need to exist, and kids’ entertainment needs less politics in them.

The Little Mermaid (2023)

Directed: Rob Marshall

Written: David Magee

Starring: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Javier Bardem, etc.

Movie score: 4/10

The Little Mermaid Image

"…is Halle Bailey taking over Jodi Benson's spot as the top princess?"

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