The Little Mermaid Review: Halle Bailey Surprises in Enchanting Adaptation


Disney’s live-action adaptation of The little Mermaid captures the enchanting musical fantasy of the animated classic. The audience will swoon when a beautiful and headstrong young mermaid falls in love with a handsome prince. Director Rob Marshall (chicago in the woods) doesn’t stray too far from the beloved source material. The big difference is a racially diverse cast with a stellar performance from lead actress Halle Bailey. Her soaring voice and her radiant energy illuminate the underwater depths. The script could have been tighter as the characters continually monologue about their intentions to drive the narrative forward.


Princess Ariel (Bailey) secretly swims to a dangerous but fascinating source of rare treasures and trinkets. Flounder (Jacob Tremblay), her tropical fish best friend, accompanies the graveyard of ships littering the ocean floor. King Triton (Javier Bardem) would be furious if he knew what they were doing. He strictly forbids any interaction with humans. They are fierce enemies that slaughter marine life and indiscriminately pollute precious resources.

Upstairs on a sailboat, Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) berates his men for trying to harpoon innocent dolphins. His fears of evil sea demons are foolish and ignorant. Grimsby (Art Malik), Eric’s loyal servant and protector, panics when he nearly falls overboard. It’s time to stop exploring and return to his home island. But first the team wants to celebrate Eric’s birthday.

The evil Ursula

Melissa McCarthy in The Little Mermaid
Walt Disney Studios

Ariel watches Eric’s noble deeds and the splendid fireworks display fit for a prince. Little does she realize that the evil Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), her long-banished aunt, has been closely watching Ariel’s liking for this particular human being. She hatches a devious plan to deceive the enamored girl, steal her siren song, and overthrow her hated father. Meanwhile, King Triton calls a scheduled meeting with his daughters. Why is Ariel missing? She orders the exasperated crab Sebastian (Daveed Diggs) to find her rebellious and disobedient younger son.

The little Mermaid It’s not too dark to see. Certain scenes realistically recreate the murky depths of the ocean. The main action is crystal clear and fits into the setting. Don’t expect the vivid brilliance and cutting-edge definition of Avatar: The Path of Water. Ursula’s lair and ship graveyard are meant to be an omen. It wouldn’t make sense if they were lit up like a Christmas tree. Ariel’s ground endeavors are bathed in sunshine. This juxtaposes her feelings of being trapped underwater. Let’s dispel an unjustified criticism spread since the first clips of the film.

Related: The Little Mermaid Backlash: The Origin Story, Gabriella, and Disney’s Casting

Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, in the heights) co-produces and writes four new songs with original songwriter Alan Menken. Its placement does not affect hit musical numbers like “Part of Your World,” “Under the Sea,” and “Kiss the Girl.” Otherwise, the fans would have been apoplexic. The new tunes don’t compare to Howard Ashman’s magnificent originals, but they aren’t horrible. It is not a case of subtraction by addition.

Powerful and sincere by Halle Bailey

Changes to an existing character and the introduction of a major new one should not be controversial. Scuttle (Awkwafina) is now a goofy seagull who dives and communicates underwater. Noted South African stage actress Noma Dumezweni plays Queen Selina. Her story shows her adopting Eric after he is found as a baby. If you have a problem with Black Ariel and Queen then don’t watch this movie. Race has nothing to do with their performances. It’s mind boggling that prejudiced opinions based on a cartoon have become controversial.

Thunderous applause followed Bailey’s powerful and heartfelt “Part of Your World.” She absolutely earned the right to play Ariel. The movie is long, but it will keep adults and children alike glued to the screen for its siren song spell. The little Mermaid it will be a box office tsunami.

The little Mermaid is a production of Walt Disney Pictures, DeLuca Marshall and Marc Platt Productions. It will have a theatrical release on May 26 from Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

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