Ariel’s Earthly Adventure

The Little Mermaid

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Javier Bardem, Melissa McCarthy, Noma Dumezweni, Art Malik, Akwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs

Running Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Oscar nominated director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns, Memoirs of a Geisha) returns with another Disney classic live action musical The Little Mermaid  featuring the gorgeous and talented Halle Bailey as the mermaid that causes all the trouble.

Ariel lives down in the Ocean but is constantly fascinated by the humans above sea level collecting items off their ships that sink to the cavenous ocean’s floor. Banished by her overbearing father, King Triton, God of the seas, played by Oscar winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) from going to the land, Ariel willingly defies her father when she makes a dangerous deal with her aunt, the evil sea witch Ursula superbly played by Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Bridesmaids) to trade in her fins for legs so she can approach land.

Ariel is desperate to meet up with a handsome prince because this is Disney, and there is always a handsome prince lurking about! In this case Prince Eric is played by Jonah Hauer-King (Little Women) who defies his own mother, the Queen played by Noma Dumezweni (Dirty Pretty Things) and is keen to see the beautiful mermaid that saved him during a storm which shipwrecked his vessel.

Ariel is unaware that Ursula has cast a spell when she arrives on land and is generously taken in by Eric except she cannot talk and her only assistance are a crab voiced by Daveed Diggs, a fish could Flounder voiced by Jacob Tremblay and Scuttle voiced by Awkwafina.

The Little Mermaid is pure Disney fantasy assisted by some amazing songs and brilliant special effects particularly the underwater sequences of which there are many. If audiences suspend their disbelief then The Little Mermaid will be a delightful film to be enjoyed by the whole family.

Despite lavish sets and production design, Rob Marshall’s The Little Mermaid lacks pace in certain aspects of the storyline and the film could have been edited properly, shaving at least twenty minutes off the running time.

The real treat of the film is Melissa McCarthy as Ursula who is suitably villainous and camp as the evil witch complete with pearls and a dreadful hairdo. Javier Bardem’s acting talents are underutilized in a film which his character does not feature prominently. There are also some issues with questionable casting but if audiences focus on the fantasy narrative then they will find this film enjoyable.

Halle Bailey holds her own in the title role although Jonah Hauer-King could have been more masculine as the Prince. His performance comes off as boyish and naïve.

If audiences love a Disney musical, then go and watch The Little Mermaid, it will either infuriate or dazzle the viewers. Unfortunately not as brilliant as one expected, The Little Mermaid gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. It’s as light as a mermaid staring at an idyllic sunset.

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