The Little Mermaid review: Not even a 'kiss' of life can save Halle Bailey's live-action fantasy from sinking


Film: The Little Mermaid

Cast: Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Jonah Hauer-King, Javier Bardem, Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina

Director: Rob Marshall

Rating: 2.5 Moons

There's nostalgic value attached to every Disney film and The Little Mermaid is no exception. The live-action adaptation of the 1989 film headlined by Halle Bailey is here to take you underwater to explore the story of merpeople residing far away from the human gaze. Directed by Rob Marshall, The Little Mermaid is more like a safe play than a creative and risky venture.

Over these years, Disney has lived rent-free in the hearts of the audience. The sentimental value has grown and so has our 'little mermaid' Ariel (Halle Bailey). Though she's no longer 'little', we're made to believe she's still the small, naive and carefree mermaid who disobeys her father's orders and shows a keen interest in exploring the surface life. Her desire grows stronger after she rescues Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) during the ship wreckage. Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) is the obstacle in their love story.

The Little Mermaid is a burst of nostalgia and there's no doubt about that. Director Rob Marshall has chosen to explore Eric's backstory and give more prominence to the budding romance between him and Ariel. There's an undercurrent of emotions running throughout sequences revolving around Ariel and her father, King Triton (Javier Bardem). While The Little Mermaid comes nowhere close to the animated version, it still has moments to cherish and appreciate. The entire Kiss The Girl song segment is visually beautiful and transports the audience to a different world. Some portions that were short and crisp in the original film are elaborated on. 

Almost an hour longer than the original, The Little Mermaid refuses to take risks in the right direction with its storytelling and makes additions that seem unnecessary. The backstory of Eric explains his character better but isn't completely justified. The underwater world, if thought creatively, can be colourful, bright, experimental and fun but the visual experts who worked on this film kept it dark, dull and unexciting. All creatures are made to look photorealistic but that strips off the fun element due to the kind of treatment they get, visually. 

The Little Mermaid has its own high and low tides. It scores decently when dramatic portions take over. The film fails to create any exciting moments and due to the dimly lit world that they create, the believability factor is affected. The lows are really low boredom seeps in pretty quickly. When it comes to underwater live-action films, the Avatar franchise has raised the bar of expectation. Disney, too, known for its visual richness has got a reputation to maintain but The Little Mermaid is a weak addition to its filmography. The expectation from the latest live-action romantic drama was high and it lives up to the hype but only in parts.

Despite a lukewarm attempt, it is Halle Bailey who gets The Little Mermaid sailing. Whenever the film is on the verge of collapsing completely, her charm and screen presence comes to the rescue. Singing her way into the oceans as Ariel, she reimagines a character that's popular over the years. There's no doubt that Halle has done a good job. 

Melissa McCarthy as Ariel's aunt Ursula is fantastic as the Sea Witch. Jonah Hauer-King is charming as Eric but his character graph looks more stupid whereas Javier Bardem as King Triton is good in a brief role. 

The Little Mermaid is similar to a sinking ship and not even a kiss of life can save it. Despite all the modifications and changes made to the tale, the lack of enthusiasm shown in making it a sparkling affair reflects throughout. 

PeepingMoon gives The Little Mermaid 2.5 Moons