The Little Mermaid Review | A Live-Action Adaptation With Stunning Visuals and a Bloated Script

My memories of watching the animated film The Little Mermaid are very vague. The latest version, directed by Rob Marshall, did create a bit of curiosity as it was a live-action adaptation of the 1989 film. Reviewing a movie like this is a bit of a tricky thing as I clearly didn’t belong to the target audience of this Disney movie. But looking at the impressive packaging of all the Disney movies that worked for almost all people, I would say The Little Mermaid starring Halle Bailey, is a satisfactory movie that will work for kids.

King Triton’s youngest daughter Ariel is our title protagonist, and she is an enthusiastic soul who wants to explore the world. Despite her father’s restrictions, she decided to understand more about human beings. And that journey led her to Prince Eric, who loved voyages. How Ariel’s love for Eric puts her in a difficult situation with the entry of her aunt, Ursula, is what we see in The Little Mermaid.

Writer David Magee and director Rob Marshall are aware of the fact that present-day storytelling needs an added flavor of humor to make things interesting for the viewer. Hence when Ariel calls Urusula The Sea Witch, she replies, “The Sea what?” And there is a sequence towards the end where Scuttle says, “Copy that” to Sebastian. All these elements of humor they have sprinkled across the screenplay are what keep this movie somewhat alive. The musical bits in the film are not really captivating even after being set in the backdrop of the unexplored underwater. I almost dozed off during one of those initial musical bits.

The 1989 movie was 83 minutes long, while the 2023 version had a duration of almost 135 minutes. That’s almost an hour of additional footage for the same story and somewhere justifies why I got dozed off during the initial patches of the movie. I think the opportunity given to them to create a realistic world through live-action made the makers invest too much time in creating those worlds of characters. You can’t really blame them, as the 3D version of all those underwater beauty shots are gorgeous to look at, and the kids, the target audience, would love it. The visual effects combined with production design create that visually lush world one would anticipate in a Disney movie. Among the songs, the funnier and peppier ones were my favorites, namely Under The Sea and Kiss the Girl.

As the lead character Ariel, Halle Bailey looked perfect. The curiosity and amusement of the mermaid in understanding the world of humans were performed convincingly by the actress. Jonah Hauer-King, as Eric, has that good-looking charm, which was essential for the role. If viewing this movie along with people of your age who have come with their kids was not enough to make you feel old, they have cast Javier Bardem as King Triton. Melissa McCarthy, as Ursula, looks more effective due to the slight sense of humor she mixed in the wickedness of that character. The voice acting of Daveed Diggs as Sebastian and Awkwafina as Scuttle were hilarious.

The 2023 version of The Little Mermaid is visually captivating, script-wise bloated, and is influenced by woke politics. Every generation gets to see a version of this story in their childhood on the big or small screen, and this live-action one is designed for the kids of this generation. On the whole, this Disney film is enjoyable in parts.

Final Thoughts

The 2023 version of The Little Mermaid is visually captivating, script-wise bloated, and is influenced by woke politics.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.