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Little Mermaid Live Action (2023) review!

I went to watch the new Little Mermaid with a few friends and well I was lost for words. Not completely lost as I am sitting here writing a review!

But Wow, wow and WOW.

This was a captivating film, from the music, the acting, the set design and CGI it blew me all away and I will say it is one of the better live actions that Disney has done so far. I won’t be focusing too much on the backlash that the film received and I think we all know why it received all the hate that it did before the trailer was even released.

I have to give Halle props for being able to be bold enough to take on this role, to get it and still stay strong through the hate!

New Songs & Singing quality.

I’ll be honest I never really listened to Halle Bailey or her Sister Chloe beforehand (not for any bad reasons I just never got around to it) but I have heard Halle’s singing a few times and I always thought it was amazing. However, in the movie, her voice is astoundingly powerful, she hit the high notes so high that there needs to be a new definition just for her. She has such a profound voice for someone her age, there is something so classic about it, like she belongs in musicals, on Broadway.

I must admit that I cried about four times listening to her sing Part of your world, the original is beautiful too, but I feel as if Halle’s voice captures not only Ariel’s naivety and wonder about the human world and her determination to get there. She has a voice that pulls at your heartstrings, you don’t have to visibly show it, you just feel it. Halle had the essence of a princess, from the beginning to the end and I am sure she carries this grace with her wherever she goes.

I loved the new songs added!

My favourite new song was For the First Time, as it perfectly captured what Ariel was feeling after getting her legs. The song represented how Ariel was born again, as when you are a baby/ toddler not only are you learning to walk you are learning about the world around you.

One of the features that this Ariel adopted was assuming that everything was food, one of those things being a bar of soap. It made me giggle a bit, I enjoyed the subtle humour and realism. This song has a reggae rhythm to it and a lot of people on the island have a Caribbean accent! As someone who comes from a Jamaican background this made me happy, this song took you on a trip along with the visuals. Halle’s voice carries you in a way that you don’t even need the visuals to picture what is happening on screen. The build-up/ ending to my song is my favourite just wow! I would say from 2.22 seconds.

Prince Eric also got his song, Wild Uncharted Waters. No, Jonah Hauer-king's singing wasn’t as profound as Halle’s but in my opinion, it didn’t have to be. It captured Eric and his feelings, his wants and desires. His singing was great overall.

Melissa McCarthy devoured Poor Unfortunate Souls, I had to stop my mouth from hanging open due to the special effects paired with McCarthy’s powerful performance. She is charismatic and dangerously charming, if you listen to what she is saying she has no intention of giving Ariel what she wants.

Not permanently at least.

Scuttlebutt song.

So many people are in uproar at how the song is so ANNoyING and just as bad as their lack of unique thought and opinion! So much so that they missed the fact that it is sort of supposed to be that way…

I mean Scuttle is presented as an annoying/bird-brained character; Scuttle is a bird after all. People couldn’t hate anything else in the film so they decided to take a comedic song seriously. It must be so tiring being a hater. My friends were bumping their heads at Sebastian and Scuttle’s rap at the end. I think the addition of this song made this sequence more lively and would definitely keep the kid’s attention.

As the film isn’t for haggard old haters but for children… let that sink in.

Character development & CHEMISTRY.

I’ll be completely honest. When growing up the little mermaid was never my favourite Disney film, I couldn’t understand why you would give away your voice. One of the most essential tools to express yourself, to someone you saw once! However, in the live-action, the creators did a great job of adding depth to Eric and Ariel’s attraction to one another.

Ariel first sees Eric when it is his birthday and he is on his ship on one of his many voyages. Ariel swims up to the surface and sees glimpses of Eric. Through brief conversations and Eric going out of his way to rescue his dog from the burning flames Ariel gets to experience (at least from a distance) that humans aren’t all bad like her father says that they are.

When Ariel gets on land I loved seeing them bond, they had more chemistry than what I have seen from previous live actions. I loved how Eric was developed, as I think that Eric in the original was just kinda meh, it was presented in a way that he just fell in love with Ariel just because she saved him instead of him liking her for who she was.

In the live-action, there is a scene where there is a parallel to Ariel’s hidden underwater cavern full of collectables Eric also has the same thing but on land. Although unable to speak you can see the budding romance ( well possibly friendship at this stage) beginning to blossom. They explore the island together and I loved how colourful the market looked, and as I mentioned earlier I also loved hearing the Caribbean accents.


Halle and Jonah seemed to enjoy filming with each other, they had lots of chemistry and appear to be great friends off-screen as well.

But anyways back to the characters, Ariel and Eric are shown to be similar, they are both adventurous, both brave and have a lust for life, knowledge etc. Although Eric can be just as whimsical and spontaneous as Ariel she still can surprise him and all without words.

Now my favourite scene has to be Kiss the Girl (another great rendition of the original) I loved how Ariel told the prince her name. It has to be the cutest thing ever! I am happy that they didn’t show the wedding scene as I think seeing weddings in Disney can get a bit stale.

Other things

I will say the few complaints that I had was that Sebastian's Jamaican accent wasn't Jamaican-ing at times. It wasn’t so bad and I find it funny that people who barely know anything about Jamaica used it to slam the film. I bet you one hundred and ten per cent that people wouldn’t have made it a big deal if it wasn’t for the controversy.

As a lover of fashion and aesthetics, I wish we saw Halle in more outfits. When Ursla turned into a bigger Ursla I did think that the scene may be a bit too scary for kids, personally as a lover of horror; I didn’t mind it at all but I think some kids would be a bit scared. I think this could have been resolved by adding more light to the sequence, Eric being the king dived in and went to help Ariel.

My two little cousins one 6 and the other 7 (I get their ages wrong often, so don’t quote me on that) both told me via call that they loved the film, one did say that they found the Ursula scene scary but from what it sounded not frightening enough to give nightmares.

There was also uproar about Scuttle being changed into a woman. In all honesty, I didn’t delve deep into hate comments but I thought out of all the things to pick at this was silly. It's a bird, unless you are looking super close ( I hope not) then you wouldn't be able to tell the gender.

The sisters being of different ethnicities made perfect sense as they represent the seven seas and well that’s a global thing. I don’t know how King Triton managed all of that but let's not go too deep into the logistics, it is a kid's movie after all.

*chuckles nervously*

I do think the performance of King Triton could have been a bit more expressive, Yes Trition is stoic but I think he shouldn’t have been so stiff. It’s not much of a deal, let alone a big one. Javier Bardem definitely looked the part and I quite liked the hair, it was cool.

In the finale score towards the end, a small portion of Uncharted Waters played, I thought this was a refined detail to add as it shows how both Ariel and Eric’s worlds are no longer separate.

Solid film 9.5/10!

Go and watch it in theatres NOW.

Written by Charis.Clarissa


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