Disney's live-action adaptation of "The Little Mermaid" has surfaced, featuring Halle Bailey in the lead role of Ariel and Melissa McCarthy as the villainous sea witch Ursula. This film has stirred excitement and controversy, with Bailey's casting as Ariel notably sparking an online backlash among detractors who voiced their objections under the hashtag #NotMyAriel. However, these protests did not deter the anticipation for the film, as the choice to cast a Black actress for Ariel was deemed a powerful step in terms of representation.
Bailey's portrayal of Ariel has been acclaimed, with critics noting that Bailey's Ariel retains the character's inherent sweetness while adding a touch more defiance, offering a fresh take on the beloved mermaid and also praising Melissa McCarthy, embodying the role of Ursula, for her comical and engaging performance.
While the film retains the charm of the original, it isn't without its shortcomings. Critics describe the movie as sentimental and at times uneven, echoing the pattern of recent Disney live-action remakes. The film has been expanded to run nearly an hour longer than the original 1989 version, introducing new songs and characters, and omitting some scenes from the original.
The visual aspects of the film are striking, offering a hyper realistic interpretation of the undersea world. Ariel's tail is described as shimmering with life-like detail, while her animal companions - Flounder, Sebastian, and Scuttle - are portrayed almost true to their natural counterparts. This lavish visual detail aligns with director Rob Marshall's maximalist vision, resulting in an immersive if somewhat overwhelming, cinematic experience.
This reimagining of a classic tale with a contemporary twist, ultimately underscores the importance of diversity in film, marking a significant moment in the evolution of Disney's storytelling.
The Little Mermaid will be released in UK cinemas on Friday, 26 May.