At The Movies: The Little Mermaid

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Verdict: 4/5

Though I am a fan of Disney, I must admit I’m a cynic when it comes to live-action remakes. However, the 2023 version of ‘The Little Mermaid’ exceeded all of my expectations.

A retelling of the classic 1989 animation, ‘The Little Mermaid’ shares the story of Ariel (Halle Bailey) – a young mermaid who longs to know more about what exists beyond the sea. But, after falling for the dashing Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), she makes a deal with sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) that quickly goes awry.

The biggest standout from the film was undeniably the casting of Bailey. Although there’s no hiding the controversy it once caused, Bailey’s voice and demeanor screamed ‘Disney Princess’ from start to finish, and her chemistry with Hauer-King was unmatched.

As for the songs themselves, the original tracks were done exceptionally – 21st century updates and all. However, some of the new additions, including Hauer-King’s boyband-esque solo ‘Wild Uncharted Waters’, and ‘The Scuttlebutt’, a song performed by Scuttle (Awkwafina) and Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), which was so obviously penned by Lin Manuel Miranda, left a lot to be desired.

Although the amount of CGI makes ‘live-action remake’ sound like a bit of a stretch, the film was also beautifully made – vibrant, colourful, and keeping moments of ‘uncanny valley’ to a minimum.

Though, as someone who grew up watching the original, the remake might not quite bring the same amount of magic, ‘The Little Mermaid’ is a film full of heart, which will inspire audiences all over again.

See this movie at Hoyts Penrith.

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