The review of The Little Mermaid, live action of the Disney classic with Halle Bailey in the role of Ariel: she and her voice are wonderful, the computer graphics much less so. In theaters from May 24th.
Before we dive into the review by The little Mermaidlet’s get rid of the embarrassment immediately: continue to contest the realization of the live action Disney it does not make sense. Every time a new one is announced it’s always the same chant. And every time he looks like Grandpa Simpson when he curses the cloud. The reason why they are made is clear: they are a great source of income (not only at Cinema, but also in terms of gadgets) and allow for the renewal of intellectual properties. Then you have to put your soul in peace: a new one has already been confirmed Snow White and the Seven Dwarfsa prequel to The Lion KingHercules. E infiniti sequel, come Cruelty 2. We will get to the remake of the remake soon.
It is also naive to speak of “lack of fidelity to the original story”: i Disney classics first they have always adapted the fairy tales from which they are taken, often completely changing some fundamental aspects. Let’s think about Cinderella: in the Brothers Grimm script the stepsisters cut off their toes just to put on the glass slipper. In the animated version of course there is not all this bloodshed.
Then rework further The little Mermaid to make it more current today is not a slap in the face to our childhood: on the contrary, for today’s children it is certainly much more familiar Ariel who decides with greater determination what to do with her life than her counterpart at the end of the 80s, still very tied to the idea of marriage as a means of breaking away from the family of origin. Not to mention the controversy over the skin color of the actress chosen to play her: Halle Bailey it’s perfect. She has a wonderful voice and smile and really looks like a mermaid. The problems of Rob Marshall movie, from May 24 in theatersare others and are mostly found at the bottom of the sea.
The Little Mermaid: The Under the Sea part is a kitschy mess
The musical number of At the bottom of the sea (in original Under the sea) for many children who grew up between the 80s and 90s it was one of the first approaches to the great musical: a scene that has become iconic, for a song (composed of Alan Menken and written by Howard Ashman) rightfully awarded an Oscar and a Grammy. In the text of the song there is a verse that, watching this live action, can only make you smile: Sebastian (voiced in the original version by Mahmood) sings “you would like to go to earth, you don’t know what a big mistake you are making”.
The Little Mermaid, Mahmood is the voice of Sebastian: “He is my favorite character”
For Marshall’s film it is exactly the opposite: the entire first hour faithfully follows, almost like a carbon copy, the Disney animated classic. Shot by shot. The problem, however, is the rendering in computer graphics: the colors are dull, the film is dark and the posture of the human actors does not fit perfectly with the tails made in CGI. For an alienating and unnatural effect.
The real sore point, however, are the animal characters: already in the live action of The Lion King seeing these super realistic felines move their mouths to speak was alienating, here, with the crab Sebastian, the fish Flouder and the seagull Scuttle, the “uncanny valley” effect is off the charts. Looking straight into the eyes of this Scuttle one can see death at one point. Their design is so disturbing that it transforms the part under the sea almost into a horror. The exception is Ursula Of Melissa McCarthy: it is certainly the one that comes out better both in terms of animation and charisma.
Progress on earth
The part on earth is the one that takes more liberties than the 80s film, both in terms of plot and music. Lin-Manuel Miranda, author of the acclaimed musical Hamilton, has worked on the original soundtrack, writing three new songs: Wild Unchartered Waters, sung by Prince Eric (who actually did not have his own song), For the First Time, performed by Ariel, and The Scuttlebutt, entrusted to Scuttle. Moments that work by themselves, but having (especially in the case of the seagull piece) a very contemporary sound, they don’t blend perfectly with the style of music we all know.
Instead, a good job was done in the writing phase: Eric and Ariel discover that they no longer like each other not only because they are attracted to their respective physical appearances, but also to share the same curiosity for unknown cultures and peoples. As well as a strong passion for collecting. The change of the protagonist is also nice: here she not only saves the prince from shipwreck, as in the original, but she literally takes her own destiny into her hands. And she saves herself physically, but above all in the relationship with her father Triton (Oscar winner Javier Bardem). Here Ariel doesn’t just try to recover her voice, traded in exchange for legs with the sea witch, but also learns to be heard.
So it’s a shame for these two souls who cannot find harmony, as instead happens in the heart and mind of the little mermaid: here a bridge between two worlds and not a woman ready to give up everything for a man.
As written in the review of The Little Mermaid, Rob Marshall’s film is divided into two parts: one under the sea and one on land. The one in the water, due to the massive use of CGI, is the least successful: the design of the animal characters is disturbing, while the movements of the humans are not synchronized in a natural way with that of the tails. The exception is Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula: she is the one who comes out best in terms of charisma and animation. The part on earth has undergone more changes in terms of story than the animated film: they work. Halle Bailey is perfect: she has a beautiful voice and really sounds like a mermaid. But it is not enough to make us forget a CGI that is alienating.
Because we like it
- Halle Bailey has a wonderful voice and smile – she really looks like a mermaid.
- Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula is the character that comes out best in terms of charisma and animation.
- This more modern Ariel works.
- The CGI of the animals is alienating.
- Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new songs don’t go perfectly with the classic soundtrack.
- The whole part at the bottom of the sea is dark and with dull colors.
- The actor cast to play Prince Eric, Jonah Hauer-King, lacks the charisma needed for the role.