Little Mermaid Review: Halle Bailey Shows Us A Whole New World

The new film is coming to Irish cinemas this week


It’s a whole new world for the iconic princess, as Ariel returns to cinemas this week in a live-action remake of the 1989 Disney classic, The Little Mermaid. 

With the addition of some new music and a final twist, the 2023 release follows the original storyline we’re all familiar with.

Ariel, (Halle Bailey) the daughter of King Triton (Javier Bardem), sacrifices her voice to the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) in exchange for legs so that she can be with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), the human she has fallen in love with. When plans go awry for the young lovers, King Triton must make the ultimate sacrifice.

Directed by Rob Marshall and produced by Lin Manuel Miranda, the latest addition to the Disney live-action collection gives us a refreshed version of the underwater world… but is it one we needed? 


For Halle Bailey alone, we’d say yes. She totally embodies the character of Ariel. The actress has made history as one of very few Black women to embody a Disney princess, and the charming, adventurous and loving character was perfectly portrayed in a stunning performance, pouring waves of emotion into the timeless songs composed by Alan Menken.

The American singer’s rendition of the iconic role elevates the musicality of the film by instilling her own unique style into each track. Halle’s note-perfect performance retains the passion and spirit of the story we all know and love. 

Although Halle is a breathtaking princess, Melissa McCarthy steals the show. She brings new energy and pizzazz to the always-dramatic Ursula, captivating the audience every time she appears on screen. Melissa’s Ursula, although humorous at times, is the perfect balance of wicked and charismatic – a tried and tested blend that makes Disney villains even more devious. 


While the comic relief of David Diggs and Awkwafina as sassy side-kicks Sebastian and Scuttle is welcome, it is unfortunately watered-down by the emotionless live-action version of the ocean creatures. 

The green screen and special effects, which are ever present in this hyper-realistic portrayal of a fantasy kingdom, can sometimes make the film look disjointed and beyond the realm of belief. 

It seems it may be impossible to recapture the magic and fantasy of the animated ocean creatures we originally fell in love with using digitised faces and green screens.

But if you can look past some of the effects, The Little Mermaid is an overall enjoyable experience. The production showcases the cast’s amazing vocal and acting abilities, while also paying tribute to the original film – and seeing Bailey as Ariel is undeniably, truly special. 

Whether you’re returning to your childhood or experiencing The Little Mermaid for the first time, this movie is a fantastical collection of musical triumphs, stunning videography and true love. 

The Little Mermaid is coming to Irish cinemas on May 26. 


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