Movie Review: Halle Bailey Shines in The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid live-action film releases soon and I was able to screen it ahead of time. Read on for my review and thoughts on the new Halle Bailey The Little Mermaid film!

little mermaid review
Photo provided by Walt Disney Studios

The Little Mermaid sticks very close to the original animated film. A young mermaid princess Ariel longs to live with humans and break away from her father King Triton’s rules. Driven by her curiosity and longing for a different life, Ariel makes a fateful decision to seek out the sea witch Ursula.

In exchange for her enchanting voice, Ariel is granted a pair of legs and the chance to live as a human for a limited time. However, there is a catch: if Ariel fails to win the love of a human prince, she will forfeit her voice and her freedom forever.

As Ariel embarks on her voiceless adventure, she faces numerous challenges and discovers the complexities of human existence. With the help of her loyal friends, including the cheerful and lovable Flounder and the wise-cracking seagull Scuttle, Ariel navigates the unfamiliar human world, encountering both joy and heartache in her journey to reunite with Eric.

Let’s talk about the technical aspects of The Little Mermaid. I’m happy to report that the coloring and the underwater CGI are really well done. CGI is used to create underwater environments, magical transformations, and characters such as mermaids, sea creatures, and the sea witch Ursula. Everything works well and seems realistic except for the design of Flounder. Simply put, his bulging eyes and weird-shaped body are distracting.

The movie features visually stunning island locations, as most of the scenes on land were filmed on the island of Sardinia. The castle scenes combine careful set decoration to create immersive Caribbean backdrops that transport viewers to a fictional kingdom that Prince Eric will eventually preside over. The sunset scenes are gorgeous as is the indoor set design which is really reminiscent of the original Pirates of the Caribbean Disney film.

In this The Little Mermaid review, I have to say that Halle Bailey is simply lovely as Ariel. She captures the youthful intensity of a girl in love and her vocals are bold. Melissa McCarthy is the perfect amount of camp and disdain as The Little Mermaid’s main villain Ursula. Her vocals sound great and she captures Ursula’s annoyance and lust for power really well. Next to Halle Bailey, she is easily the strongest performer out of almost all the characters.

This isn’t to say that The Little Mermaid isn’t without its faults. Jonah Houer- King’s solo song is terrible as is Awkafina’s rap and songs as Scuttle. Both simply don’t work and really could have been left out. Scuttle’s songs are obnoxious and don’t add much to the overall storyline. Even with these stumbles, The Little Mermaid is a tale that explores themes of self-discovery, sacrifice, and the pursuit of one’s dreams. It reminds us of the importance of staying true to ourselves and the power of love and perseverance.

Note: There are two pretty scary scenes that younger kids might not like, the first being the Shark chase scene toward the beginning of the film and the second being the battle with Ursula.

Miss it in the theater? The Little Mermaid is now available on Digital and on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD September 19.

Bonus Features*

  • Sing Along Version –Sing along with your favorite songs while watching the movie with on-screen lyrics.
  • Hotter Under The Water –Discover how director Rob Marshall and his team brought the story of The Little Mermaid to life with this documentary in five chapters:
    • A Tale Of The Bottomless Blue – Join Rob Marshall on the set of one of the most ambitious and challenging films he’s ever directed.
    • I Know Something’s Starting Right Now – Join cast members Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King and more and learn how they were cast in the film and what it was like to bring director Rob Marshall’s vision to life.
    • Down Where It’s Wetter – Dip your toes into the virtual ocean and learn about how the breathtaking underwater world was created with visual effects, imagination and a lot of talented artists.
    • Explore That Shore Up Above – From Prince Eric’s castle to the beach, explore the above-the-sea locations and the elaborate production design behind them.
    • Do What The Music Say – Discover how legendary composer Alan Menken teamed up with Lin- Manuel Miranda to write new songs to accompany the original classics
  • Song Breakdowns
    • Wild Unchartered Waters – Prince Eric, played by Jonah Hauer-King, gets his own song, written by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Go behind the song, from the writing to the recording, to the filming on a practical ship.
    • Under the Sea – Get a first-hand look at how professional dancers helped bring director Rob Marshall’s vision to life as they stood in for the various animated sea creatures that sing and dance in this showstopping number.
    • Kiss The Girl – Float along and get a frog’s-eye view of the beautiful set built to film the live-action version of this classic song.
    • Poor Unfortunate Souls – Join Melissa McCarthy (Ursula) as she takes us on the journey of making her character’s signature song.
  • Featurettes
    • The Scuttlebutt On Sidekicks – Dive in and meet Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle, who not only have their own song, “The Scuttlebutt,” but also fresh looks as they work hard to make sure Ariel and Eric kiss before Ursula’s deadline.
    • Passing The Dinglehopper – Ariel met Ariel when Halle Bailey worked with Jodi Benson — the voice of Ariel in the original animated movie — who appears in a clever cameo in the live-action film.
    • Bloopers – Laugh along with the cast as they have the time of their lives making The Little Mermaid.

# Disney film

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