Is Disney swimming into its next billion-dollar film? Probably. But, is The Little Mermaid live-action remake good? Well, that depends.
Disney has displayed an admirable commitment to recycling its older classic animated movies, much to the delight of fans. Many years after it started casting live persons to portray animated characters, the House of Mouse has somehow perfected the formula and it shows in its latest outing.
The Little Mermaid stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, the red-headed princess of the sea whose obsession with the human world sees her disobey her father, King Triton (Javier Bardem), and make a deal with Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), as she falls in love with the handsome human prince, Eric (Jonah Hauer-King).
It's a tale as old as time (pun intended) that audiences of all ages have grown up watching ever since the original animated film premiered in 1989.
Here's what critics have to say about The Little Mermaid ahead of its premiere on May 26:
- Arizona Republic - 5/5
- Daily Telegraph (UK) - 4/5
- Observer - 3/4
- Times (UK) - 3/5
- Empire Magazine - 3/5
- USA Today - 2.5/4
- Slant Magazine - 1.5/4
We can't exactly say that The Little Mermaid is a bad film. As per the 100+ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 70% rating, which isn't bad. It can still trend positively as well as the reviews come flooding in. But, it's hard to deny the reviews are mixed. Every negative verdict comes with a positive one, which implies that critics are divided when it comes to what they think about The Little Mermaid.
Needless to say, the film will likely see viewers flock to the theaters this weekend, as they have even with other films that didn't do too well with critics like The Super Mario Bros. Movie, which just earned a rather dubious distinction.
However, for people who want to see Disney explore their embarrassment of riches more, a question comes up, is this all Disney has amounted to?
Disney and its massive cultural influence on beauty standards, gender roles, and racial stereotypes, used to be the center of attention - not its constant remaking of films that were perfectly fine as is.
This playbook of digging deep into its coffers to pad its bottom line instead of taking a risk has done wonders for Disney but you can't help but hope that it does more.
It's true that these films continue to sell well with audiences and Disney has no intention of stopping anytime soon. Moana, a film that was inspired by The Little Mermaid, will be remade in live-action albeit without one of its lead stars. But, it's one thing to remake one of the best-animated films of all time. It's another to do it and for it to fall flat relative to the original material.
The Little Mermaid certainly feels like it falls in the latter category even if it isn't dead in the water.
For now, audiences will have to watch as Disney has its cake and eat it, as it always has.