The crisis of new ideas continues, so Disney has released another live-action adaptation of its cartoon classic, The Little Mermaid. The movie was unlucky from the start. The questionable cast blew up the internet and the lack of at least some plot changes left me asking – why even watch this? Nevertheless, the picture came out, and we have already managed to get acquainted with it. Now the ratings are somewhere close to 50 percent, which represents a failure for the “mouse house”. Let’s take a look at all the details to find out if the new picture is that bad.
A bit of history
1989’s The Little Mermaid came out at a difficult time for Disney. The previous shots were taken too long and the gain was clearly not enough. No one really believed in the success of the new project, but the artists and animators did. The Little Mermaid became an instant cult hit.
Ariel was the first “Disney princess” who wasn’t afraid to take matters into her own hands. In many ways, the cartoon was ahead of its time, demonstrating an independent and purposeful heroine in the era of the female Snow White and Cinderella.
The appearance of a mermaid was also remembered. A feature of Ariel was an incredibly bright facial expression, which earned her actress Sherry Stoner (Sherri Stoner). It was thanks to her acting that the little mermaid, even without a voice, was much more emotional than all the princesses in the studio’s previous works.
However, the other characters have also disappeared. The duet of the restless fish Flounder and the responsible crab Sebastian is one of the brightest among the cartoon characters. Ursula became an excellent villain, and her song “My Unlucky Friend” is still relevant today. Triton and Prince Eric were slightly less impressive, but fit the overall style of the story well. It is important to know and understand all this before proceeding with the analysis of a new “living” little mermaid, because comparisons are inevitable.
History has not changed drastically. Almost everything that was in the original is in the movie. At the same time, those innovations that nevertheless broke the main message of the cartoon break and even contradict common sense. For example, the talking seagull Scuttle changed sex, learned to rap, and for some reason can talk and breathe underwater. In the cartoon, the same conversation about forks took place on the surface and didn’t raise any unnecessary questions.
The situation is much worse with the prince, who suddenly became not only the only white man, and even the ruler, on the island of the blacks, but also lost an important piece of his own bow. It was he who defeated Ursula by piercing a swollen squid with a shipwreck. Thus, the man not only atoned for Ariel’s betrayal, but also proved to Triton that not all people are evil and dangerous.
In the film, Disney again decided to outsmart itself. The Little Mermaid defeats the Witch, making the Prince a completely useless character. After such an ending, the real Triton would hardly have agreed to let his daughter go to the surface. The movie completely lost the moment when Ursula puts a spell on Eric. It seems that the Prince abandons Ariel simply because he heard a familiar voice that doesn’t color him any more.
However, there are also positive aspects. We found one change that gives a point in favor of the film adaptation. In the cartoon, Ariel signs an agreement with Ursula in English, which means she can simply write any information to the Prince on sand or paper. In the film, a scale from the tail with blood particles is used as a signature. A small thing, but nice.
Looking forward to more Disney live adaptations?
Hans Christian Andersen’s original story left open the question of the heroine’s feelings. Whether it was true love at first sight or a hasty surge of young hormones that came at too high a price, the reader made the decision for himself.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid doesn’t deal with such difficult subjects. The heroine often behaves strangely, reminiscent of modern stalkers obsessively following your every step. Unfortunately, the film did not correct these nuances. The screenwriters somehow tried not to rethink the familiar story, so Ariel as a character is still the same obsessed and psychologically immature. Does it look unbelievable? Terribly.
At the same time, unlike fears, skin color does not matter at all. Actress Halle Bailey is doing her best and her Ariel is sweet in her own way. Plus, this might be the best character in the picture, but she’s a far cry from the original Little Mermaid. When the magic of incredible facial expressions and almost anime beauty does not arise, you begin to notice all the problems of motivation and plot more clearly.
The situation is similar for the rest of the characters. They are good, but nothing special. The role of Triton was played by Javier Bardem. He looks great in the picture, but the expression is clearly not enough. It seems that the actor was bored and spoke lines of violence.
Prince Eric is almost impossible to remember. But Sebastian and Flounder got it. Having made them “real”, the creators once again stepped on the same rake as in the movie “The Lion King”. Fish and crab are not able to express the emotions that cartoon characters showed. Attempts look strange and only lead to rejection.
Ursula is another example of a successful cast. Melissa McCarthy looks great in her outfit. This is an experienced actress who takes on the role without any problems. Her witch looks even more convincing than the cartoon. Yes, and the song she plays is more interesting.
This time, very strange things happened with the graphics. It’s good, but most of the movie, especially the underwater world, is too dark. The final battle in general causes only bewilderment: Ursula turns into some kind of gray mess, and her face is so blurred that it cannot be seen at all.
In general, the impressions remain twofold. On the one hand, the Little Mermaid looks good, on the other hand, thoughts about saving on special effects creep in through dark tones, which usually help to hide roughness.
At certain moments, the seabed suddenly becomes clear and transparent, such as during Sebastian’s song. This is very out of place with the overall color of the photo and looks out of place. Again, I’d like to turn to the original, which suffered no such issues and is still great to watch.
Reasons for failure
The new Little Mermaid is not a bad movie at all. The story has not seriously changed, and the new skin color did not affect the heroine at all. At its core, however, this is a completely commercial project, unfortunately devoid of the most important thing – the soul. You do not applaud the heroes, do not immerse yourself in the world and do not experience emotions.
Disney wanted to turn the fairy tale into a social statement, but even here the film is not up to the task. A white prince with black subjects and a girl obsessed with a wedding with the first person she meets – all this goes against modern standards of tolerance.
At the same time, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was recently released. The cartoon, in which the main character is also black, breaks all records and will certainly collect many more creations of the “mouse house”.
It seems that people are still tired of the same stories being sold to them over and over without the slightest change. The experience of The Lion King and a number of other adaptations was rather an exceptional experiment. Now that the Disney approach is known to the public, they don’t want to pay for this. We agree with this point of view. If you’re missing fairy tales, you’d better add original cartoons, especially since it’s completely free. You will get more positive emotions and vivid impressions.
“The Little Mermaid” of the 2023 model is a strong middle jack. However, this is clearly not the result the studio was counting on. The picture has a lot of issues that are not at all related to a standout agenda or a non-canonical cast. Disney again decided to make a minimal effort and continue to make money off the same stories that have been with us for over 30 years. You can get acquainted with the novelty if you do not have the opportunity to review the original cartoon. In all other cases, it is better to save money and buy tickets to Spider-Man: Web of Universes. By the way, expect a full review of the cartoon very soon.
Have you seen The Little Mermaid yet?
Source: VG Times
Christina Moncayo is a contributing writer for “Social Bites”. Her focus is on the gaming industry and she provides in-depth coverage of the latest news and trends in the world of gaming.