Review of "The Little Mermaid": Better than Expected... But Not Enough

Comparte este artículo

This film, thrashed by fans and critics before it came out, makes us rethink the extent to which it is worth evaluating a film without having previously seen it. This is our review of "The Little Mermaid".

Still from the movie 'The Little Mermaid'

Photo: Disney Studios

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

Listen to this article

Leer en español: Reseña de "La Sirenita": Mejor de lo que se esperaba… pero no lo suficiente

Disney seems to be in serious trouble with live-action adaptations of its animated classics. Some love them and some hate them, there has been no middle ground. Although the new Peter Pan movie seemed to have broken with the recent bad results, since it respected the original spirit of the work, in other cases there does not seem to be an adequate interpretation.

"The Little Mermaid" is one of these cases. Nobody on the internet seemed happy with the reinterpretation, because there were new redesigns of the most important characters, like Flounder and Sebastian. But the protagonist herself was also quite different from her animated counterpart, which generated a shower of criticism and defense of the new "Ariel".

There were also notable differences in the lengths of these adaptations. The original tapes used to be no longer than 90 minutes, while their “real” counterparts usually exceed 2 hours. This means that live actions include "filler" plots or unnecessarily lengthen scenes.

"The Little Mermaid" does some things well, but others not so well. First, it follows the same plot as the classic tape. Ariel is a mermaid who is in love with the human species. One day, she saves one of them. Then, she accepts a deal offered by the witch Úrsula... and this will unleash a series of complications.

Also read: Guide to Finding your Ideal 2023 Series on Streaming Platforms

What does "The Little Mermaid" do well, and what fails?

During the first hour of footage, a tribute to the animated film is paid. A clear example is the first scene, which are very similar in terms of aesthetics and shots to the animated one from 1989. But in the visual section there are problems, since it shows that it is something 100% computerized, which generates lighting problems.

This results in the original tape better reflecting the design of the world "under the sea" than this new remake, even with the difference in budget between the two adaptations. As a counterpart, in this new version, there is a good integration of the actors in relation to the aquatic environment.

There is also a feature that stands out more here than in the "base" film: Eric's character. The figure of the lover of the Little Mermaid is much deeper than in the animated film. There was only an excuse to start the story. However, here he has his own motivations. While the work isn't brilliant, it does improve on the 1989 film.

Now, unfortunately this does not happen with all characters. Melissa McCarthy, the actress who plays the villain Ursula, fails to do a solid job. Mainly, because it doesn't achieve the same terrifying look as in the animated version. She's not a funny character, either.

Úrsula's character had an ambivalent effect on us in the animated version: she was terrifying as well as funny. Therefore, there is a clear defeat here in relation to this adaptation. As the villain is one of the engines of this production, it is clear that the work loses drama.

To save the most recent adaptation, we'll say that the musical numbers help pick up the pace of the film. The essence of the original songs is maintained with some new sensibility for adult audiences. But they will also be catchy for the little ones, so this has been a wise decision.

Another thing that this adaptation does well is that the romance story feels much more mature. As Eric is a character with more layers, the love relationship is not interpreted as a magical crush but as a real affective construction. Thus, the relationship becomes stronger as the footage progresses.

And the message is clear: Eric and Ariel are not predestined to be in love with each other; they choose to be. In the live action, Ariel wants to live an adventure of freedom in which love is a companion. In the original tape, it was the other way around, since love was the one that unleashed the adventure.

All of this modifies the story and gives it new dimensions without making it feel like a different plot. This update is organic, not forced. However, it does not become a tape that surpasses or approaches the original, except in some specific aspects.

So, is it worth watching? If you liked the original tape, yes, since it adds new narrative layers. But if you have never seen the animated work, it is undoubtedly preferable to start with that one. In any case, it has been a much more positive result than expected after having seen only the trailers.