You remember how we used to love Disney’s classics, right? The original animations felt magical and timeless? Well, it seems Disney is hell-bent on taking a sledgehammer to our nostalgia. Ever since Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland raked in a billion dollars, we’ve been treated to an endless parade of live-action remakes. It’s like Disney’s going on a zombie spree, resurrecting and repackaging their old classics into soulless money-making machines.
Just take “The Little Mermaid” for example. The early signs weren’t promising – it looked set to be another cash grab, churning out a watered-down plot that distracts just enough for Disney to run off with your money. And though it has some redeeming qualities, it’s not by introducing anything new to the story.
The plot follows the same pattern: Ariel, our teenage mermaid princess, makes a deal with Ursula, the wicked sea witch, in a bid to win over Prince Eric. Despite having a longer runtime, the movie barely adds any substance.
Director Rob Marshall and writer David Magee have made changes, sure, but mostly superficial ones. Songs are cut, plot points are tweaked, and some characters are relegated to the background. But it doesn’t escape the fact that it’s a rehash of what we’ve already seen.
Still, it’s not all bad. Alan Menken’s return to work on the film does add some grace notes, and Halle Bailey as Ariel manages to make her own mark despite initial struggles. Melissa McCarthy as Ursula keeps things interesting, but it’s clear that the filmmakers are trading on nostalgia rather than trying to bring something fresh to the table.
The extra runtime isn’t put to good use either. Sure, we get to know Prince Eric a bit better, but the added backstory doesn’t really add anything meaningful. Then there’s the awkward subplot about globalism which feels out of place and half-baked.
That said, Ariel’s casting as a black woman was a bold move that was unfortunately met with backlash. It’s disheartening to see such a promising step towards representation criticized on such ridiculous grounds.
What’s frustrating is how the filmmakers seem to believe that a good adaptation needs to be more realistic. The result? Adorable animated animals turn into creepy sea creatures, and the once enchanting undersea world becomes dull and dreary.
And then there’s the attempt to “correct” past problems. For instance, why does Triton hate humans? Because they caused his wife’s death, not because they eat fish. Or why doesn’t Ariel just write a note to Eric? Because Ursula’s spell makes her forget their deal.
Some of these changes make sense, sure, but others feel forced and unnecessary. It seems like the makers are too preoccupied with fixing past issues to create something genuinely enjoyable. The result is a safe, sanitized, and soulless remake that lacks the magic, novelty, and passion of the original.
Despite its shortcomings, “The Little Mermaid” might still succeed at the box office. But at best, it’s a hollow echo of the original that doesn’t do any real damage to our memory of it. But then again, if they’d left it alone, we wouldn’t be subjected to a new rap song that’s been called “aural terrorism.”
In the end, it’s clear that Disney’s strategy of recycling their classics isn’t about preserving their magic or delivering innovative storytelling. It’s about capitalizing on nostalgia and cleaning up past mistakes for a new audience. And that, my friend, is a real bummer.