tek's rating: ½

The Little Mermaid (PG)
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Caution: potential spoilers.

This is a 2023 live-action/CGI remake of the 1989 animated film of the same name. I don't want to hash out the whole plot here, because it's mostly the same as the animated movie, so you can just read that review, if you're interested. But there are enough differences to make the remake worthwhile, in my opinion. I liked that Prince Eric's character was more fleshed-out than in the original, and he had enough in common with Ariel to make their budding feelings for each other make more sense. And I liked that Ariel had a siren song, because that makes more sense that Ursula could use it to confuse Eric once he was already in love with Ariel. I'm iffy on Ursula adding a little something extra to her spell, making Ariel forget that she needed to get Eric to kiss her, but I suppose it worked out okay. And I liked that Ariel is the one who defeats Ursula, in the end, rather than Eric. Plus there's the whole thing about humans believing mermaids were evil, just as merfolk believed humans were evil. But they all get together in the end, when Ariel and Eric show them they were wrong about each other. And there are a few other differences, like the absence of Chef Louis, and the presence of Eric's adoptive mother, Queen Selina, but I guess I don't need to tell you everything that's different.

I also want to say I think pretty much everyone in the movie did a great job with their roles. That includes Halle Bailey as Ariel, who totally nailed all her songs. And Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Awkwafina as Scuttle, and people I'm unfamiliar with in other roles. I thought Grimsby looked like he should be working in a haunted castle, but still he was a pretty good guy. Also, while most of the songs are familiar from the original movie, there are some new ones, which I found less memorable, but I did rather like "The Scuttlebutt". All in all, I still prefer the original movie, but I also loved this remake. In some ways it's probably better than the original, but I do love me some animation, plus the original has a lot of nostalgic value, at this point. And I guess there is a little bit of a feeling that the remake was unnecessary, which tends to be the case with most of the Disney live-action remakes, but in my opinion that's not as true as some people think. In any event, I'd say it's two and a quarter hours well spent.

fantasy index

live-action re-imaginings of animated (or partly animated) Disney movies
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101 Dalmatians (1996) * Maleficent (2014) * Cinderella (2015) * Pete's Dragon (2016) * The Jungle Book (2016) *
Beauty and the Beast (2017) * Dumbo (2019) * Aladdin (2019) * Lady & the Tramp (2019) * Mulan (2020) * Cruella (2021) *
Pinocchio (2022) * Peter Pan & Wendy (2023) * The Little Mermaid (2023)
In Development: Snow White * Moana * Lilo & Stitch * et al.

I have a tendency to think of this trend as having started with "Maleficent," though I didn't think of it as a "thing" until "Cinderella" came out, and other re-imaginings had been announced. But then I started thinking I should include Alice in Wonderland (2010) as the start of the modern trend (but later decided against considering that part of the trend at all, since it's more of a sequel than a reimagining), as well as remembering that there were other such movies even before that. (I thought I might include 1994's "The Jungle Book", but later decided maybe not.) But particularly since "Cinderella," there have been increasing numbers of old animated Disney movies being remade or completely re-imagined, in live-action. There will be some things I don't include as part of this trend, like TV movies (such as "Geppetto"). And no straight-up modern sequels to old movies, even if they really feel to me like part of this trend (such as "Mary Poppins Returns"). Also no remakes of movies that were live-action to begin with (such as "That Darn Cat", "The Parent Trap", "Freaky Friday", etc.) And obviously no animated remakes of films (which I consider "The Lion King" to be), whether the original was animated or live-action. And no live-action re-imaginings of old Disney movies by other studios (such as "Snow White and the Huntsman" or "Mirror Mirror"). Also I won't bother listing sequels to re-imaginings, unless they're clearly re-imaginings of old sequels to the original movies; but that's just getting too complicated. As for 2016's "Pete's Dragon," that's complicated, itself, considering the original was mostly live-action, and only the dragon was animated. And of course in the remake, it's still just the dragon that's animated (this time as CGI), but I just can't help feeling like the remake is part of this overall trend. Especially considering that the "Jungle Book" movie that came out the same year uses a lot of CGI, itself.