On September 10th, 2022, Disney announced that they would make the live-action of a fan favorite, “The Little Mermaid.” A few years prior they made the live-action film that was “Milan.” Let’s just say the movie received harsh criticism. It led me to expect the worst and that Disney could potentially ruin a movie I grew up on and change it to something completely different. I kept myself updated when it came to the movie. When I saw that they cast Halle Bailey, a young black woman to take on the lead role as Ariel, I could already hear the chaos and opinions people had and were going to make when the movie would come out. So the question was, “Would they fail with another live-action?”
Finally, on May 30th, 2023 I decided to see “The Little Mermaid” in theaters. It had been four days upon its release and I had only heard nothing but good reviews. I got my popcorn and my drink (prices are another topic) and once I entered the theater it was a mix of people I couldn’t imagine sitting down to watch a “kids movie.” It was nostalgia that brought them there. In the theater sat children ranging from the age of three to 50-year-old adults huddled together.
The lights turned dim and the sound of ocean waves could be seen. On the big screen, it was honestly beautiful. Then that’s when we saw her, Ariel herself. My gaze didn’t leave the screen as I was taken in by the beautiful visuals. What caught me off guard though was Sebastian’s accent, coming from the Caribbean and hearing his “accent” caught me by surprise. I looked over to my mom and she looked somewhat offended. Her face read, “Is this what they think I sound like?” Over time though it grew on you. It became a part of his character and somewhat of a comedic relief throughout the movie, as well as keeping a part of the original Sebastian.
The original will always be engraved in my memory due to the beautiful songs and the magic Disney brings to a film. Something that Disney took note of was to not change the songs. In the 2020 live-action adaptation of “Mulan,” Disney decided to ditch the original concepts of the animation, removing the songs and removing the fan-favorite character Mushu. This was one of the main reasons the film failed at the box office. The problem with this was that they changed the original concept of the movie — changing the plot entirely. It was no longer “Mulan” but an entirely different movie. The new adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” hit all the bars when they kept the original songs and characters that have the hearts of viewers. Even though they added their own twist, even sneaking in a new song, they kept the authenticity of the original, warming the hearts of everyone in the theater. After the movie, teen Jo Flores said, “I loved this movie. It’s so hard to compare it to the original because both are both amazing on their own. Watching it made me time travel to see my inner child and watching the movie left me in awe. It was perfect.” It’s only been a few days yet the movie is already beginning to touch lives.
Once the movie was announced people were immediately concerned due to Disney’s casting decisions. Some were concerned since the casting was so diverse, that the change was too big. However, that’s the magic of live-action. The change. In 1989, when the original “Little Mermaid” came out, times were different. It wasn’t a concern to make everyone feel seen in the movies. Now it has become a priority in films to make them more diverse so little girls can see themselves as princesses or scientists changing the world. The live-action allowed little girls of color to feel the scene, with Ariel and her sisters being people of color and that is beautiful.
As a whole the movie was excellent and it made viewers look forward to what Disney had in store for other upcoming films. People might say, “Let it be” but sometimes change is necessary. With live actions, the idea is not meant to take away from the original. The original will always be a memory, yet as times grow it’s nice to see how revamping a movie you grew up on can actually be a beautiful process.