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The Little Mermaid

Farhad Dalal
Farhad Dalal
2.5 Star popcorn reviewss


Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new English live action film The Little Mermaid. Disney has always been a special place to reside in terms of fantasy. A time when ‘animation films’ were classified as ‘cartoons’ in our childhood, the films from Disney did transport us to their fantasy world which not only did expand our imagination as children but we also learnt a worldly lesson or two through their films.

There were a number of animation films that were out which is an instant source of nostalgia for the 80s and 90s kids. My first film ever in a theatre was the animation film Thumbelina and since then I have been in love with the genre. There were so many films from Disney that were an integral part of my childhood like The Lion King, The Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid. And one thing that Disney has done over the recent years is to create a live animation film(a combination of actual actors with dollops of animation) of the yesteryear classics. Quite honestly, I had enjoyed the live animation versions of The Jungle Book and The Lion King and I was quite looking forward to watching their latest offering The Little Mermaid, a film which was amongst my favourites in my childhood. So then does The Little Mermaid manage to impress, lets find out.

Story & Screenplay

The Little Mermaid follows the story of a mermaid who is fascinated by the thought of humans and quite curious on what lies on the other side of the sea. Will she find her true love? As we all know, the story is an instant classic and the challenge really was in the retelling of the tale. And sadly, the film falters in exactly that area. The screenplay standing at about a 130 odd minutes does have its moments in terms of glitz and glam but falters in creating a narrative that is soulful and heartfelt.

The drama does open on a good note with the introduction of the protagonist amidst an unexplored kingdom prevalent in the deep waters of the sea. The animation is instantly on point and it acts as a base for a beautiful world building that is accompanied by music and recreated creatures. These form the best moments of the film and do evoke the right kind of emotions wherein you are invested in the journey of the protagonist and long for her union with the humans. The issue lies in the characterization of the antagonist which should have been more terrifying as was the case in the original. If the attempt was to keep things simple and subtle, it didn’t work as it diluted the entire product!

The proceedings falter immediately after the introduction of the conflict and that had to do a lot with the execution which was totally off. From that point, I didn’t quite connect with any of the emotions in the drama, neither was I fully invested in the narrative. The entire sequence of the protagonist falling in love with a charming man felt artificial and plain plastic. It lacked soul or for that matter any kind of emotions that were even remotely close to the warmth of the original. And the idea of elongating a straight forward story did also backfire whereas the reality was that it could have ended much earlier.

The third and final act of the film is a bit of a slog, in all fairness. Because the writers hadn’t quite invested in the antagonist or even the emotions in the drama, there is zero payback. You aren’t intimidated by the presence of the protagonist and neither are you fully invested in the emotions which were a driving point of the original. Even the trademark Disney magic is missing which was a big worrying sign! The final act is bland and banal that just did not impress much. In fact, I was waiting for the drama to end by fidgeting in my chair which really wasn’t a promising sign. Overall, the screenplay here is half-hearted and absolutely soulless with its presentation.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are cheesy and corny at so many places that didn’t quite translate into a desired impact. The music is beautiful and probably one of the strongest aspect of the film. It does try to evoke some kind of emotions throughout the drama. The BGM is adequate too. The cinematography and VFX are top notch particularly in the first hour which does unfold beneath the sea. The editing was decent. Director Rob Marshall doesn’t quite get it right wherein he struggles to evoke the right kind of emotions in the drama which does allow the viewers to be fairly disconnected with the drama.


The performances are decent although the characterization was an issue here for most characters. Javier Bardem as King Triton does a fair job but he had very little to do. Melissa McCarthy as Ursula suffers from poor characterization that doesn’t quite translate well in her performance too. Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric does a good job in an otherwise one-dimensional character. Halle Bailey as Ariel is the star of the show and it is her performance which is wonderful to watch and is the much needed glue in the screenplay.


The Little Mermaid is a glittery but soulless drama that lacks the magic of a Disney film. Available in a theatre near you.

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