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Photo-realistic fantasy loses vibrancy
ARIEL (Halle Bailey) is a young mermaid in King Triton’s (Javier Bardem) kingdom. Daughter of the King, whose wife was murdered by humans, is banned from having any interaction with people from the surface world.
But when she saves Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) from drowning one night, both feel an inescapable longing to be together. While Eric searches far and wide for Ariel, remembering only her voice, Ariel makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to trade her beautiful voice for human legs so she can discover the world above and impress the Prince. 
Ariel has three days to make the Prince love her, or she’ll be enslaved by Ursula, but can she do it without her voice?
Directed by Rob Marshall, The Little Mermaid is another photo-realistic Disney effort. Once again, the joy of the animated version - particularly with the animal characters - is completely lost in the translation. Flounder looks horrifying, as do the eels, and Sebastian the crab. 
The underwater scenes are in general a complete horror. The light plays in all different ways that make it feel incredibly fake, particularly when mixing the live action actors with the CGI backgrounds. 
Remarkably, it even makes the real-life shots worse; one particular one being the appearance bobbing above the water of King Triton, which had the theatre I was in burst into laughter at the sight of such a bedraggled wig on Bardem.
Bailey is wondrous as Ariel and is a surefire hit. Completely charming, with a stunning voice and all the wonderful explorer mentality of the animated version, her Ariel is the highlight of the film. 
While Hauer-King is less successful as Prince Eric, who is largely a relatively boring placeholder, the two definitely share some lovely chemistry - particularly in the scenes where they dance and row a boat through a Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle prepared moonlight scene. 
When the movie delves into the whimsy while keeping it grounded, it succeeds. It’s a shame that this is really the only scene we see that in. 
Ultimately, it's not enough to make up for the hellscape that is the CGI underwater world on display here, nor the many terrors that are photo-realised living amongst its depths. Give this one a miss and rewatch the animated classic.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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