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7 Ways Disney’s Live-Action Little Mermaid Is Worse Than The 1989 Original – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

7 Ways Disney’s Live-Action Little Mermaid Is Worse Than The 1989 Original



Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid has hit the big screen, but while it has its strengths, it falls short in several areas when compared to the original animated version from 1989. Disney has been creating live-action remakes of its classic animated movies for years, and while some have been successful, many have not. The Little Mermaid is the latest addition to this trend, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Halle Bailey as Ariel. The movie follows the same premise as the animated version, with Ariel’s fascination with the human world and her love for Prince Eric, but it also makes some changes.

Unfortunately, the live-action version of The Little Mermaid falls short in several areas when compared to the animated original. Here are seven ways in which it’s worse:

7. Underwater Scenes Are Too Dark
The Little Mermaid’s underwater scenes are too dark and lack vibrancy and color. While the depths of the sea are dark, this is still a fantasy movie, and the underwater scenes could have benefited from better lighting and more vibrancy.

6. Outside World Is Dull
The outside world presented in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid is far from the colorful world of the animated version. The town and Prince Eric’s palace have a muted color palette, which does not do justice to the world presented in the original.

5. Animals Are Too Realistic
The live-action version of The Little Mermaid made the same mistake as other Disney live-action remakes when it comes to animal characters. Sebastian, Scuttle, and Flounder were designed to look too realistic, which made them unsettling and lacked the charm of their animated counterparts.

4. Unnecessary Songs
While The Little Mermaid is a musical, some of the added songs in the live-action version were unnecessary and did not fit with the movie’s pace.

3. Changes To Ursula’s Deal
Ursula’s deal with Ariel was changed in the live-action version, which took away some of the excitement of the original animated version.

2. Ariel’s Sisters Were Underused
Ariel’s sisters were given less screen time in the live-action version, despite being given more diverse backgrounds and a bigger role.

1. Failed To Replicate The Magic Of “Under The Sea”
The live-action version of The Little Mermaid failed to replicate the magic and fun of the musical numbers in the original animated version. The biggest musical number, “Under The Sea,” lacked the same energy and vibe, making it a disappointment.

While The Little Mermaid has done well at the box office, it has received mixed reviews from critics. While it improved on certain aspects of the original animated version, it falls short in several areas, making it a less enjoyable experience overall.

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The Little Mermaid is now part of Disney’s live-action trend, and while this version has its strengths, there are a couple of ways in which it’s actually worse than the 1989 animated version. Disney has been riding the wave of live-action remakes for years, and though most of them haven’t been successful, the Mouse House continues giving new life to its animated classics. Among Disney’s live-action remakes is now The Little Mermaiddirected by Rob Marshall and starring Halle Bailey as Ariel, and while it took the premise of the animated version, it made a couple of changes to it.

Just like the animated version, The Little Mermaid followed Ariel and her fascination with the human world. After falling in love with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) after saving him from a shipwreck, Ariel made a deal with sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to become a human, but there were a couple of tricks in that deal. The Little Mermaid has done well at the box office, but it has received mixed reviews from critics, as while it improved the original animated version in certain areas, there are a couple of ways in which it’s actually worse – and here are seven of them.

Related: The Little Mermaid Gives Ariel A New Power That The Original Movie Left Out

7 The Little Mermaid’s Underwater Scenes Are Way Too Dark

the-little-mermaid-triton-and-ariel-1

In its effort to bring The Little Mermaid to life in the most realistic way possible, Disney went too far with its underwater scenes. Surely, the depths of the sea are dark, but The Little Mermaid is still a fantasy movie, so there wouldn’t have been a problem if the underwater scenes had more vibrancy and color. The animated version of The Little Mermaid has various underwater scenes set at night, but there’s enough vibrancy and contrast so no details get lost in the dark. The Little Mermaid live-action remake could have definitely benefited from different lighting and more color in its underwater scenes.

6 The Little Mermaid’s Outside World Looks Dull

Halle Bailey as Ariel Looking at a Castle in The Little Mermaid Remake

While the underwater scenes of The Little Mermaid were too dark and many details got lost in the darkness, the outside world was, unfortunately, not better. The outside world of The Little Mermaid live-action remake is too dull, far from the colorful world presented in the animated version. The town and Prince Eric’s palace, while beautiful, have a muted color palette, the complete opposite of the bright worlds that animated Disney movies often use. Surely, more sober colors fit with Queen Selina’s personality, but they do no justice to the world that the animated Little Mermaid presented.

Related: Where The Little Mermaid 2023 Is Set

5 The Little Mermaid’s Animals Are Too Realistic

little-mermaid-2023-sebastian-flounder-realistic-uncanny-valley

Unfortunately, The Little Mermaid repeated some of the mistakes of previous Disney live-action remakes, especially when it comes to animal characters. The Little Mermaid took realism a bit too seriously when bringing Sebastian, Scuttle, and Flounder to life, a decision that was criticized even before the movie was released. What made their design even stranger was the fact that they talk, just like in the animated movie, a problem that Disney had already dealt with in The Lion King, The Jungle Bookand Lady and the Tramp.

Talking animals with a realistic look is not a winning combination, and these characters actually look quite unsettling, but what makes this even worse is that the live-action designs completely lacked the charm of the animated versions. The realism of their design leads to a lack of expressiveness, while the animated Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle stood out for how expressive they were, as well as for their vibrant colors. The voice actors behind the live-action versions of Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle did a great job, but it’s not as effective as it should have been when the voices don’t match the expressions on the characters’ faces.

4 The Little Mermaid Had Some Unnecessary Songs

Sebastian and Scuttle underwater in promotional artwork for The Little Mermaid (2023)

Unlike other live-action remakes, like Mulan, The Little Mermaid is also a musical, but not all songs made it to this new version. Songs like “Daughters of Triton” and “Les Poissons” were left out of the live-action version of The Little Mermaid and it was for the better – removing “Daughters of Triton” made “Part of Your World” the first big song, and “Les Poissons” would have turned the movie into a horror one – but others were added instead. “For The First Time” was a nice addition as it tells Ariel’s reactions to the human world as an inner monologue as she no longer had her voice, but other songs were unnecessary.

Prince Eric was given his own musical moment with “Wild Uncharted Waters”, which messes with the movie’s pace, and “The Scuttlebutt” felt very out of place. While some viewers loved “The Scuttlebutt” and its heavy Lin-Manuel Miranda influence as it’s a rap between Sebastian and Scuttle, others weren’t on board with it, and with good reason. “The Scuttlebutt” is fast and loud, very different from the rest of the movie’s songs, and it comes right after Ursula bewitches Eric, so it wasn’t the best time for Sebastian and Scuttle to show off their rap skills.

3 The Little Mermaid’s Changes To Ursula’s Deal

little mermaid ursula

Ariel’s desire to explore the human world is the same in the live-action version of The Little Mermaidbut Ursula’s deal went through some changes. In the animated version, Ursula transformed Ariel into a human in exchange for her voice, and in order to remain human forever, Ariel had to receive a “true love’s kiss” from Eric in the next three days. In the live-action version, all that was also included, but so was a trick: Ariel wasn’t going to remember that she had to be kissed, making it a lot easier for Ursula to win. This “amnesia” part took away the excitement of seeing Ariel and Eric’s bond and the anticipation of their kiss, as it immediately gave Ursula the upper hand.

2 The Little Mermaid Forgot About Ariel’s Sisters

Little Mermaid Ariel sisters

By removing “Daughters of Triton”, Ariel’s sisters were given less screen time than in the animated version, which was a total waste. In the live-action version of The Little MermaidAriel’s sisters were given different ethnicities and were their father’s emissaries across the ocean, so they had a bigger role than in the animated version… but they were given very little screen time. These changes made Ariel’s sisters a lot more interesting and showed diversity, but all that went to waste with their short and, sadly, forgettable on-screen appearances.

1 The Little Mermaid Failed To Replicate The Magic Of “Under The Sea”

Daveed Diggs as Sebastian Singing Under the Sea to Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid Remake

The realism of The Little Mermaid not only resulted in super dark underwater scenes, a dull outside world, and unsettling talking animals, but it also didn’t allow it to replicate the magic and fun of the musical numbers of the animated version. The musical numbers of the 1989 version of The Little Mermaid were bright, colorful, and fun to watch, truly bringing Disney’s magic to the screen, but the live-action adaptation couldn’t inject the musical numbers with the same energy. This was most evident and disappointing during “Under The Sea”, the biggest musical number in The Little Mermaidand even though Daveed Diggs did a great job, the visuals didn’t match the vibe of the song and did no justice to it.

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