The wave of remakes of classic Disney cartoons seems unstoppable. “The Jungle Book”, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” have already shown themselves too well from a financial point of view. And in the future, we can expect at least a remake of “Lilo and Stitch”, which has already caused scandals due to the selection of the cast. The remake of “The Little Mermaid” was also not without scandals even at the stage of the announcement. But now we can finally tell you in our review how this new take on the Disney classic turned out.
“The Little Mermaid” / The Little Mermaid
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Holly Bailey, David Diggs, Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem, Jonah Hower-King, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay
Release year 2023
The young mermaid Ariel (Holly Bailey) is extremely interested in the world of people. She is interested in absolutely everything that humanity does, and she keeps her treasures from the surface in a separate underwater cave. Only her father Triton (Javier Bardem) strictly forbade his daughters to interact with people in any way, because it was because of them that Ariel’s mother died. But when Ariel rescues a prince (John Gower-King) during a shipwreck, it’s only a matter of time before she fully immerses herself in the surface world. And the evil witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) wants to take advantage of this.
Almost all remakes of Disney cartoons are criticized for trying to follow the original sources too literally, while pushing too hard on realism. Due to this, the charm of the original is lost, because no live shooting can reproduce the expression of animation or at least come close to it. In this case, you need to look for your own approaches. A good example here is “Cruella” with its cynicism and focus on the world of fashion.
“The Little Mermaid” of 2023, unfortunately, does not try to complement the original source in any way. The story here is as simple as possible, and the authors seemed to hope that the audience would be familiar with at least some version of the plot about Ariel before going to the cinemas. Because of this, some moments in the script are omitted, and the pace of the story itself feels rushed and chaotic.
On the other hand, the film has an attractive look. The local underwater beauty attracts, and the flora and fauna combine both realistic elements and fantastic ones. This is especially evident in the Flounder fish and the Sebastian crab. On advertising materials, they have a comical appearance, but in dynamics they look quite confident. So you can exhale here.
“The Little Mermaid” suffers from either strange color correction or post-processing problems. Many frames are almost completely immersed in darkness, certain plans look too blurry, and almost all colors are too washed out.
It may seem that in this way the film crew conveys the underwater life from a realistic side. But this is just the case when realism could be sacrificed for the sake of a colorful picture. After all, this is what cinematography exists for. In addition, there are still several “bright” scenes in “The Little Mermaid” – and they turned out to be unashamedly enchanting.
Holly Bailey’s acting, which had so many complaints before the premiere of the film, also does not raise any questions. Yes, it’s not something outstanding, but the girl managed to perfectly convey the image of an underwater creature, which for the first time learns the wonders of the terrestrial world. The rest of the cast is also pleasing, especially Melissa McCarthy. Unless history doesn’t particularly allow Javier Bardem to show himself to the fullest extent.
And what is “The Little Mermaid” without songs, right? The film includes all iconic compositions from the original, except in different arrangements and, logically, with different voices. There are no complaints about them at all. Probably because Alan Menken, the composer of the original cartoon, worked on the songs. So the local version of Under the Sea is sure to get stuck in your head for at least a few days after watching it.
I don’t particularly want to criticize the new version of The Little Mermaid. This is a maximally safe film that does not surprise, but rather causes mild pleasant emotions. Without kinks and passions, but also without rejection. The film easily dispels all preconceived notions about Disney remakes and big corporations cashing in on classics.
“The Little Mermaid” of 2023 is still a standard manifestation of capitalism, which actively suppresses feelings of nostalgia. But he does it skillfully enough to push questions and objections aside.
And if the only thing that bothers you is the skin color of the main character, then your opinion does not count when it comes to film criticism, sorry.
Pros: light and pleasant atmosphere; the beauty of the underwater world; melodious new versions of familiar songs; acting of local stars Cons: the picture suffers from strange color correction and post-processing; the film is too simple and naive; lack of new views on the original source Conclusion:
The new “The Little Mermaid” is clearly not the kind of movie for which you need to drop everything and rush to the cinema. But as an adaptation of the classics with modern technologies, it works quite successfully. At the same time proving once again that Disney classics are with us seriously and for a long time