Halle Bailey served a very good performance with a lot of charisma and passion, she also has an impressive voice. In some parts people were clapping from excitement and I shed a tear since I saw her performing her first song. I'm not a big fan of the growing wave of remakes and live-actions but this movie is something that I couldn't miss, they revisited one of my favorite classics and the result is striking, extravagant, funny, exciting, it has everything I love. I had my doubts since I saw the cast and the character designs (not to mention Ursula's makeup) but these actors have a lot of charisma, the final result is solid and entertaining. I love Alan Menken and Howard Ashman compositions, The Little Mermaid and Little Shop Of Horrors are my favorite works from them, their lyrics and arrangements give me goosebumps.
"Ariel" (Halle Bailey) has longed for a chance to meet with humans but her sagely father "Triton" (Javier Bardem) has prohibited this. Undeterred, she witnesses a terrible storm that washes the young prince "Eric" (Jonah Hauer-King) overboard. She races to his rescue and leaves him to his people on the beach - both are already in love! On hearing of her latest transgression, dad is now truly furious and loses his temper driving his daughter into the manipulative tentacles of the evil sea witch "Ursula" (Melissa McCarthy) who offers her a bargain - three days on land to obtain true love's kiss or a lifetime in her service. Snag? Well, she will not have her beautiful voice, she will be a mute. A combination of magic, duplicity and serendipity plays it's hand now and she ends up close to the prince, having adventures with him and falling even deeper in love - but can she get her kiss? Will the wicked "Ursula" let her? First things first - this isn't a patch on the 1989 version. It has a clunky, over-produced, musical theatre feel to it that consists of mediocre acting and some serious over-scoring. The delicacy and charm of the characterisations and songs has been subjected to grand orchestrations and whilst Bailey can certainly sing, the delivery is more about her ability to belt out the songs rather to than imbue them with any emotions relevant to the charm of the story. McCarthy is quite effective - if only she would stay still for five seconds and that leads to the other disappointment with this film. It works perfectly as an animation - why introduce elements of live-action to it? Neither the story nor the film benefit from the cluttering mix of CGI and real visuals. As with the recent remake of "The Lion King", the song lyrics, for reasons that don't seem clear to me, have been reworked - this time by the always over-rated Lin-Manuel Miranda whose "Scuttlebutt" song is just plain annoying. It wasn't broke - why fix it? At times there is a little engaging chemistry between Bailey and Hauer-King, but for the most part this is an unnecessary, and overly long, rehash of a fairy tale that seems to me to have been made because it could be, not because it should have been. Disappointing.
FULL SPOILER-FREE REVIEW @ https://www.firstshowing.net/2023/review-rob-marshalls-the-little-mermaid-enriches-the-original/ "The Little Mermaid enriches virtually every narrative aspect compared to the original, deepening Ariel and Eric's arcs while exploring the same core themes without losing any of its predecessor's essence. The relationship between the protagonists is unquestionably more complex and emotionally compelling, while the secondary characters - namely Sebastian and Scuttle - remain genuinely hilarious. Halle Bailey is VERY impressive and the cast accompanies her excellently. However, it's not without its problems: the new songs are, for the most part, forgettable; the visuals are better than anticipated, but the feeling of being surrounded by fake walls never quite disappears; and Ursula was left with unexplored potential. That said, it's one of Disney's best live-action remakes of recent times and deserves to be seen by every child in the world in need of some inspiration - as we once were." Rating: B+
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