You haven’t seen the new Little Mermaid?

Well, the water you waiting for?! 

WARNING: Contains spoilers

Little Mermaid Smile GIF by Regal - Find & Share on GIPHY

Although some viewers are getting Disney fatigue with all of the live-action remakes released in recent years, I have been looking forward to seeing this film ever since the first mini trailer was released in September 2022. 

In this review, I want to be honest about my experience and provide objective perspectives, even though it was reel-y good.

The film is visually stunning and adds depth and complexity to some of the characters. The underwater kingdom is portrayed in great detail, making it a more relatable world. Disney’s new live-action Little Mermaid took four and a half years to complete and pushed many creative boundaries in this movie regarding CGI and creative direction.


The cast starred Halle Bailey (Ariel), Jonah Hauer-King (Eric), Melissa McCarthy (Ursula), Javier Bardem (King Triton), Jacob Tremblay (voice of Flounder), Daveed Diggs (voice of Sebastian), Awkwafina (voice of Scuttle), and more.

Let’s dive into the review


via IMDB

Ariel is a young mermaid drawn to the surface world and fascinated by every thingamabob and dinglehopper. She shows her drive, passion, and gumption throughout the movie. Ariel is determined to learn more about the world above the water and deeply longs for….what do you call ’em? …Oh, feet! She feels displaced and wants to be a part of their world. 

Halle Bailey has a magnetic onscreen presence and an ethereal, powerful singing voice filled with emotion. In fact, during her first audition for director Rob Marshall, Halle had him overwhelmed with tears and emotion. While watching The Little Mermaid, I could feel everything Ariel felt—the frustration, defeat, sadness, excitement, and love.

She matches the original songs perfectly and adds her own flair from time to time (and, most importantly, at the right time). While filming a movie filled with CGI, the imagination of actors and actresses is tested. They interact with puppets or blobs of blue that will later be transformed into animated characters and must really believe to “sell it” to viewers. Ariel’s moments with CGI characters and live actors abound were charming and believable.

The way that Ariel moved through the water was brilliant and looked effortless. In reality, it wasn’t that way. Halle went through lots of dryland and diving training. Disney has set and kept the bar high with their recent live-action films. I had never seen Halle act before this film and was genuinely impressed with her performance.

The chemistry between Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King was evident. I loved the way they interacted in the world up above. Riding into town on a carriage, Ariel shows Prince Eric the unique parts of sea shells and such while deepening their connection using little words.

The Little Mermaid soundtrack is now available on Spotify and Apple Music. I highly recommend listening to her songs and drifting away by the soulful sound of her voice.


via IMDB

Melissa McCarthy blew it out of the water!

This conniving and dishy sea witch was even scarier in live action. Melissa brought the character to life terrifyingly and bizarrely. Her hair (part wig, part CGI) was whimsical, and her tentacles were striking. Even the way she moved about her cave was evil and scary! 

The way she used tone and fluctuation in her voice was brilliant; I don’t think I could have chosen a better Ursula. I loved her performance and can’t wait to watch the film again.

Vanessa (the human version of Ursula), played by Jessica Alexander, was cast perfectly. During the scene when Ariel tries to stop the marriage between her and Prince Eric, Vanessa is absolutely TERRIFYING. If I were a kid watching this film, it would be very likely that I would have nightmares about her.

When Ursula is outraged when her evil plan fails, the whole ocean swirls around her as she grows into a gigantic version of herself. The special effects made this moment more real and scary than the original movie. Absolute masterpiece.


The Little Mermaid Bow GIF by Walt Disney Studios - Find & Share on GIPHY

He was funny, corny, and charming- just like the original. Sebastian, played by Daveed Diggs, made the movie theater erupt with laughter when telling Dad jokes or while getting frustrated with Ariel’s passion for the above world. His accent and singing were on point.

I had “Under the Sea” stuck in my head for three days after seeing the new film. 

But I wasn’t thrilled about Disney’s few changes to this character. At the beginning of the original film, Sebastian is a trusted council to King Triton and a music conductor. Unfortunately, the conductor side of his character was removed entirely from the new live-action movie.

For this film, Disney went down the same route as their CGI remake of The Lion King by making the underwater creatures as true to nature as possible. At first, I had difficulty with his eyes and felt the animators didn’t complete the look. After a few minutes of watching, the tides of the story swept me away, and it didn’t phase me as much. Although his CGI appearance differed from the original, I found him and his little mouth wonderful.


via IMDB

The mighty king of the seven seas made a big splash in this movie.

Javier Bardem was strong and made the internal conflict that Triton experienced palpable. I could see and feel his frustration toward his daughter and disappointment in himself. 

With a beard, long flowing hair, and a triton, I could hardly tell it was Javier! In the original film, King Triton was topless but accompanied by his magnificent tail, crown, and trident. In the new live-action film, the costume designer created a brilliant piece of torso and shoulder armor made of pearl shell. Although this change surprised me initially, I found it visually breathtaking.




The new Little Mermaid came with three songs that fit in with the originals quite well. If you had never seen the first Little Mermaid movie, you would have never known they weren’t original. 

Were the new songs needed? No. Did I like them? Ehh. I think many people would agree only because no one wants Hollywood to tamper with our feelings and experience of nostalgia

One addition that I found pretty interesting was a song that Ariel sings in her head (because she has no voice) while being in this new world. I thought it was a profound addition but didn’t feel it was needed. Yet, out of the three new songs, this is the one I would choose to keep in the film. I love Ariel, the actress, and hearing her thoughts during this time in her character arc. The composer of the original songs, Alan Meken, returned to collaborate with Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the new songs. In an interview on Youtube, Alan says, “The songs we’ve written really do expand what the little mermaid is.” Lin-Manuel added that it was such an honor to work on the film because these characters and musical storytelling live in his heart.


The original Little Mermaid film was 83 minutes long, whereas the new live-action is 135 minutes long. That’s a whole 52 minutes longer! 

Why is that? What did they add?

First, there were three new songs, so that took some time.

Second, Eric’s story was expanded in a big way. The opening scenes of him at sea were extended, allowing Eric to show more of his character, leadership, and personality.  

In the original, Prince Eric’s parents never appeared. In the new version, they reveal that Eric was adopted as a young boy by Queen Selina; therefore isn’t a Prince by birth. It is speculated that Prince Eric’s maternal parents probably died in a shipwreck similar to the one Ariel rescued Eric from. I didn’t think the expansion of his story was necessary and didn’t like how Disney/the directors executed it.

Director Rob Marshall said that the story of The Little Mermaid is iconic and powerful and that it was important to expand upon it and make it a fuller experience. Rob has a deep appreciation for the source material and has made it his priority to ensure that the film stays true to the original story. 

The director and producers did a good job blending in the additions to the original story. I agree it is an iconic and powerful story, but I didn’t think it needed to be expanded. And yes, this is probably because I don’t want Hollywood messing with my nostalgia. I was a little heartbroken about the fact that the director removed Ariel and Prince Eric’s wedding. It would have been such a lovely ending to the story, just like in the original. The above world and the world under the sea connect and move forward in a positive way. I would have loved to see what a wedding celebration would have looked like in the live-action film.

via IMDB


Director Rob Marshall had a difficult task at hand with The Little Mermaid. He needed to leverage the original movie combined with his imagination. During an interview, he shared that Under the Sea was his biggest challenge because there was only one live actor during that musical production. Walt Disney and his film Fantasia inspired him. When Walt Disney was creating the movie in the ’40s, he hired a dance company to generate ideas for movement and formations for the animated dancing flowers, mushrooms, and other characters. Marshall thought, “You know what, that’s what I need to do.” He hired the Alvin Ailey Foundation to create the Under the Sea musical number. The choreography and dancers became a template for the CGI animators when creating the sea creatures.


Unfortunately, the New Little Mermaid film has been experiencing review bombing. People who disagree with the cast of Ariel have been trolling on multiple sites without hesitation. IMDB released an official statement stating, “Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.” Unfortunately, the concept of review bombing is not new, but platforms like IMDB monitor reviews and determine what reviews truly hold water. 

Regardless of what platforms like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB have to say, I suggest you see the film and make up your own mind about it!

To get a taste of the movie, check out this sneak peek!

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and look forward to seeing it again when it releases on Disney+ later this year.