Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” live-action will be a hit despite controversies?
The live action movie “The Little Mermaid”, which is surrounded by controversy, has finally been unveiled, drawing positive reviews.
Disney’s live-action of “The Little Mermaid” has finally been unveiled, with most of the attention being drawn to the casting of a black actress as the female lead, Ariel. The debate between Disney’s political correctness, accusations of “blackwashing” the original story, and the freedom of artistic interpretation clashed intensely. However, after personally watching the film at a press screening on May 18th, a critic from Korean news site Daum said they can confidently say that “The Little Mermaid” was a fantastic movie, both as a live-action adaptation and a musical.
Halle Bailey’s portrayal of Ariel
Playing the role of “The Little Mermaid” Ariel, Halle Bailey was captivating from the moment she appeared on screen, dispelling any initial concerns about her appearance. Her Ariel was charming and adorable, and the more one watched, the more enchanting the character became. Halle Bailey’s natural acting skills, diction, and singing abilities truly brought her version of Ariel to life.
“The Little Mermaid” is an adaptation of the famous 1989 Disney animation, which was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. The story follows Ariel, who dreams of exploring the human world beyond the sea and embarks on a forbidden love and adventure, after rescuing the drowning Prince Eric.
While the original fairy tale had a bittersweet ending, the Disney animation concluded with Ariel marrying the prince. The live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” stays true to the Disney animation, but also incorporates some changes and additions to the storyline.
The CGI in the film is undoubtedly impressive, particularly in depicting the fantastical underwater scenes. Ariel’s three friends, Sebastian the crab (voiced by David Dixon), Flounder the fish (voiced by Jacob Tremblay), and Scuttle the seagull (voiced by Awkwafina), were portrayed in a natural and lifelike manner. There were no uncanny visuals like originally suspected, with vibrant and beautiful visuals that enhanced the underwater scenes with a sense of wonder. At the same time, Ariel’s shimmering tail in natural colors added to the mystique.
The film presents a world where different races coexist. The seven princesses of the Atlantica Kingdom, who come from the seven seas, represent different races. Naturally, enjoyers of Netflix series “Bridgerton”, which showcased a diverse cast set in a fictional Caribbean island, would easily get immersed in this setting as well. There were refreshing tropical fruits, beautiful flowers, and lively dances at the festive ball, which easily captured attention. The skilled direction of the musical by Rob Marshall, known for his work on “Chicago”, “Nine”, and “Mary Poppins Returns”, further enhances the overall experience.
When the iconic songs “Under The Sea” and “Part of Your World” play, it’s hard not to sing along. The ensemble of the original soundtrack and the additional soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda is captivating. However, one disappointing aspect is the absence of parts by Javier Bardem, who showed impressive singing and dancing in “LyLe, Lyle, Crocodile.”
Various messages that prevent hatred and division
In order to advance the narrative of the progressive Little Mermaid, Prince Eric, who was used functionally in the original animation, was made three-dimensional in the live action. By portraying Eric (played by Jonah Hauer-King) as an adoptee with a connection to his black mother, the film adds depth to his character. The relationship between Ursula the sea witch (played by Melissa McCarthy) and King Triton (played by Javier Bardem), who are siblings in the film, contributes to the family-focused storyline. Ursula, with her impeccable synchronization and singing abilities, steals the spotlight, seeming as if she walked straight out of the animated movie.
On top of this, Ursula’s magic is a cute trick. She teases her audience by making Ariel forget that she has three days to kiss him. Because of this, Ariel and Eric are attracted to each other like magnets, but they still show restraint. Their playful and teasing interactions showcase the essence of true love, which grows stronger despite being just within reach, and induces amplified excitement.
Ultimately, when tricks fail, Ursula transforms into Vanessa (played by Jessica Alexander) and proceeds with the marriage ploy to Eric. It may be due to Jessica Alexander’s remarkable appearance, but she becomes an irresistible “femme fatale”, controlling the prince through hypnosis.
The two characters, hindered by a great barrier and veiled from the truth, nurture love and pursuit dreams that are not understood in both the worlds of mermaids of humans. It makes the audience want to cheer for the two characters, whose pure hearts and courageous love help to save lives and contribute to changing the world.
Ariel’s exchange of her voice for legs represents all marginalized individuals in society. It is a small cry that is stifled by the reality that they must conceal the truth to be heard. The film shows that people from different backgrounds, races, and genders can coexist without surrendering to prejudice. In a time filled with hatred and division, Disney’s powerful voice resonates, reminding people to have a listening attitude. Above all, the message “I will listen to your story” is deeply embedded in Ariel’s lost voice.