Review Round Up: The Little Mermaid

Find out what critics have had to say about Disney’s live action re-make of the 1989 animated film with our review round up….

The Guardian: ** “Bailey is both the finished film’s only unmitigated triumph and the best argument for this whole live action remake enterprise in one shimmering mermaidcore package. If these films are to have any purpose beyond being nostalgia-powered cash-ins, it must be to allow all children – not just the white ones – to see themselves as Magic Kingdom denizens.”

The Independent: ** “McCarthy, as Ursula, offers her best tribute to the character’s original inspiration, the drag queen Divine. It’s a commendable performance that will make you wonder what might have been if Disney had the guts to feature an actual drag queen in the role. But it speaks to a wider issue here: Bailey aside, this Little Mermaid is yesterday’s fish served up dry and inedible.” *** “The film’s diverse casting has already made the point about unity, and done so much more eloquently. The Little Mermaid mostly avoids preaching, though. It remains what it always was: a charming, escapist fairy tale.”

Empire: *** ” It’s made with obvious love for the original, and with enormous efforts in VFX to bring the underwater scenes to life — not always seamlessly, but close. Bailey keeps it all together, but one can’t help feeling that that longer runtime has watered down the effect.”

Variety: “If Bailey is the film’s big discovery, then McCarthy is its no-brainer. Dolled up to look like Divine’s evil-stepsister in her glowing green lair, the comic star’s just delicious as the movie’s deep-sea villain. Her timing is impeccable, and though the part is virtually identical to the one Pat Carroll originated, she aces what’s demanded of these tricky remakes: Basically, McCarthy manages to hit every beat the super fans expect, while surprising with every pause and inflection.”

Indie Wire: “But it’s star Halle Bailey, appearing in her first leading role, who makes the best case for why this classic Disney tale needed to be made into a live-action affair. Just look at her face, so expressive and so open, so deeply and wonderfully human and alive. There are some things even the most lovingly rendered pieces of hand-drawn animation just can’t match, and Bailey’s emotive skill is one of them.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “Thankfully, Bailey doesn’t disappoint as Ariel. Her performance adds edge to what is ultimately a serviceable film. Whether she’s belting out a newly arranged “Part of Your World” or silently observing her less than charming prince (Jonah Hauer King) navigate his own social constrictions, her charisma radiates off the screen.”

Roger *** “Halle Bailey is radiant in the title role: Expressive, energetic and infinitely likable, with a mixture of girlish sweetness and womanly spine. She finds refreshing new avenues into songs, story beats and even specific lines of dialogue that longtime fans have cherished from the original. And her rendition of “Part of Your World,” a tune we’ve all heard countless times, is unexpectedly stirring. Bailey is up for everything this role demands of her, both physically and emotionally, and she deserves to be a major star.”

The Upcoming: **** “The world-building is exciting to behold, albeit saturated in CGI, and the costume design also ticks all the boxes. It is interesting when a much-loved Disney animation is repainted with a brush of reality, as you begin to see aspects from a slightly different perspective. Although not relevant to the story, in this adaptation featuring real humans one starts to relate to the characters’ circumstances, and see how fortunate it is for Ariel that there is a prince and a queen willing to let a complete stranger stay in their castle. It is entertaining to consider whether Ariel would be so keen to become human if, like one character suggests, she had to slave away all day in the fishing ports to put food on the table like everyone else.”

The Little Mermaid is released in cinemas on the 26th May.

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