Archive for March 6, 2024


The Little Mermaid Comes to Life

Last weekend I finally got around to watching the live-action The Little Mermaid remake. I hadn’t been particularly opposed to it. I just wasn’t really in the mood for that sort of thing, and it was nearly two and a half hours long, so it seemed daunting when I was in the mood for something light. I mostly didn’t see how it was necessary. I have to say that I found it delightful, but it reinforced the issues I have with the live-action remakes loaded with CGI.

The human cast was great. Any scene involving actors with human faces was lovely. The actress playing Ariel was wonderful, and she brought tears to my eyes several times because she conveyed that sense of longing so well. It was nice that Eric got more of a personality, a song, and even a backstory. I’ve seen some quibbles about the changes they made to fix some perceived plot holes in the original, but I thought they worked. But this is all story stuff that could have happened without changing the medium to live action, other than maybe you get more realism and emotion from human actors than from cartoons.

But the non-human parts didn’t come across so well. The animation to create all the sea creatures was gorgeous and created absolutely real-looking sea creatures. The problem came when these real-looking creatures started talking, dancing, and singing. It was weird. It seems you can either have cartoony creatures who have somewhat human facial features that convey human emotion or you can have realistic creatures who don’t convey human emotions because they don’t have human faces. I think it might have worked better if they’d just let the characters with human faces have the speaking parts and let the sea creatures be sea creatures.

That would have required a rewrite, but then I wouldn’t mind if they’d done more like Cinderella and just made a new version of the same story using some elements from the animated version. I wouldn’t necessarily want to get rid of “Under the Sea” or “Kiss the Girl,” but maybe let Ariel have merpeople friends to talk to who could sing. I don’t know. It’s just weird seeing a realistic-looking crab singing.

I’ve found most of the Disney animated sequels (the direct to video ones they did in the 90s) to be blah, but this movie is just about begging for a sequel, with the characters setting off on an adventure and with a mystery to Eric’s backstory.

And I still want a good live-action version of Sleeping Beauty. Maybe not a musical because the songs weren’t pivotal in that one, and go full-on fantasy movie, given that we get a battle between a prince and a dragon. I’m not sure how to give Aurora a bigger role (I believe I read somewhere that she had 27 lines in the whole movie), considering that her being in a coma is a big part of the story. Maybe beef up what she does earlier in the movie, or else borrow from the ballet, in which the prince dreams of her while she’s asleep. In the ballet, they go with the 100 years asleep thing that they skipped with this one, so the prince had never met her, and he goes to try to wake her because of a dream he had about her (in the ballet, it’s an excuse to get in a big romantic pas de deux before the finale), but Philip could dream about her while Malificent has him locked up.

Oh, and I need Emma Thompson to play one of the fairies. Thanks. Maybe we could get Judi Dench while we’re at it.