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Recommended age 5-18
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LITTLE MERMAID, THE (2023) cover image Click to play video trailer
This mesmerizing live-action musical, starring the talented Halle Bailey, is an absolute triumph! The Little Mermaid showcases the beloved tale in a fresh and captivating way, with stunning visuals that bring the underwater world to life. The CGI is seamless, creating a truly immersive experience that surpassed my expectations.

In this adaptation of The Little Mermaid, we follow the enchanting journey of Ariel (Halle Bailey), a young mermaid who longs to explore the human world. The film stays true to the heart of the original story, emphasizing themes of self-discovery, love and the importance of staying true to oneself.

The Little Mermaid delivers exceptional performances, breathtaking visuals, and captivating storytelling. Halle Bailey performs remarkably, capturing Ariel's curiosity, spirit, and powerful voice. Casting a Black actress in the iconic role of Ariel is a decisive step toward diversifying the portrayal of princesses on screen. It offers young audiences, particularly Black girls who have rarely seen themselves in mainstream media, a chance to see a character they can deeply identify with, and I love that! The cast is rounded out with renowned actors who bring depth and charm to their respective roles. Tony winner Daveed Diggs gives a comedic, clever and heartfelt performance as Sebastian the Crab. Awkwafina's delightful portrayal of Scuttle the Seagull and Jonah Hauer-King's as Prince Eric brilliantly captures the original characters' essence while bringing their unique charm and charisma to the roles. They skillfully breathe new life into these beloved characters, adding depth and memorable moments that both longtime fans and new audiences will appreciate. The costumes, designed by Colleen Atwood, beautifully capture the underwater kingdom and the human world above. The music score by the talented duo of Oscar winner Alan Menken and Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda is magical, seamlessly blending Menken's enchanting melodies with Miranda's vibrant and rhythmic compositions, resulting in an unforgettable and captivating musical experience.

The Little Mermaid carries a powerful message of self-acceptance, courage and pursuing one's dreams. It promotes positive social behavior and portrays relationships built on understanding and empathy.

I give The Little Mermaid 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 12, plus adults. It releases in theaters on May 26, 2023. Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of Ariel and embark on a magical adventure!

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

From acclaimed director Rob Marshall comes the retelling of the beautiful, adventurous fairytale we all know and love, The Little Mermaid. This beloved Disney classic has captured the hearts of past generations and certainly captured my heart in this one. Based on the original motion picture from 1989 and the fairytale by Hans Christian Anderson, The Little Mermaid is a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate audiences of all ages.

The Little Mermaid begins with a look at life under the sea from the perspective of King Triton's youngest mer-daughter, Ariel (Halle Bailey). Ariel is a beautiful, adventurous and free-spirited young mermaid who longs to experience life in the "world above." Ariel encounters the human world when she saves a young prince (Jonah Hauer-King) and falls in love with him. She makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to become human so she can be with him, but things don't go as planned. This movie is full of adventure, romance and memorable songs - both old and new.

This film definitely has a stronger emphasis on action than the original. There are many scenes where the live action element adds to the suspense and drama in the film. For example, in the song "Poor Unfortunate Souls," there are many impressive special effects. Towards the beginning of the movie, there is a scene with a shark which was not in the original, and that keeps the audience on their toes the whole time. What I enjoyed the most about The Little Mermaid is that it is not a replica of the original film. It shares scenes and songs that we all know and love, but it is different enough from the original. I particularly enjoyed Halle Bailey's portrayal of Ariel and Melissa McCarthy's of Ursula. Bailey gives the character a more adventurous and brave attitude, which makes Ariel a great role model for children everywhere. McCarthy, while being scary, manages to maintain great comedic timing which adds to the character of Ursula immensely. The updated elements, such as the special effects, music and actors, offer a fresh perspective of this tale.

The film's message is about the importance of being true to oneself and following one's dreams, even if it means making sacrifices along the way. The story encourages us to pursue our passions and not be afraid to take risks, even if it means living outside our comfort zones. It also explores themes of love, family and the consequences of making deals with others.

I give The Little Mermaid 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to18, plus adults. You can see The Little Mermaid in theaters starting May 26, 2023.

By Allison B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

The Little Mermaid is a lovely nostalgic movie that brought me back to my younger years, and really put me in a fun, exciting, happy mood.

The Little Mermaid is a live-action remake of the original 1989 film. It follows the life of Ariel (Halle Bailey), a mermaid who sometimes feels trapped underwater. One night, her Aunt Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) finds her in a vulnerable state and uses that to her advantage. Ursula casts Ariel with a spell, finally giving her the ability to have legs and walk on land. However, every good thing must pay a price, and Ariel eventually begins to lose sight of who she is. Ariel must learn to be strong and prove her strength, with the help of her friends of course!

A huge standout in this film is the CGI. A majority of the film takes place underwater and uses animation. All of the coral, fish and colors are so vibrant. The movement of the water feels so realistic, and I never second guessed the reality of the circumstances. Additionally, the scenery on land is outstandingly beautiful. The island that it is on is breathtaking, and the castle's architecture side-by-side with the ocean really makes everything come to life. It's definitely a destination that I find myself wanting to go to. The cinematography really lives up to my expectations for a Disney production. Furthermore, the characterizations are a big standout. Melissa McCarthy completely embodies her role as Ursula. Her confidence and ability to perform is evident and she does Ursula justice. Her character is believable gave me chills watching her. Additionally, Halle Bailey beautifully executes her role as Ariel. She feels like a real life Disney princess and speaks with such elegance. She makes the film feel like fantasy that has come to life. Ariel's wardrobe is also striking -- her mermaid tail is beautifully and intricately designed --the colors and scaling really pops underwater.

The message of The Little Mermaid is to lead with kindness, and always follow what your heart tells you.

I give The Little Mermaid 4 out of 5 stars, and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Little Mermaid releases in theaters May 26, 2023.

Mikella G., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17

The Little Mermaid is a stunning film; I love it! This live-action version of the beloved animated movie (and classic story) is appealing visually and emotionally. The music is absolutely spectacular and hints about the characters' emotions as well as explains turning points in the storyline.

The story follows Ariel (Halle Bailey), a mermaid who longs to experience what it feels like to be a human. Ariel goes up to the surface one day during a shipwreck and saves a sailor from drowning. Later, she bargains with the sea witch, Ursula Melissa McCarthy), who promises to give her legs in exchange for her voice. However, all this goes against her father's commands, warning her of the terrible dangers.

The main characters are Ariel, Eric (Jonah Hauer-King), Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), Scuttle (Awkwafina), King Triton (Javier Bardem) and Ursula. The actors' relationships and interactions make the film quite amiable and interesting. For instance, the compassion between Ariel and her father is significant to the plot, because he sacrifices so much just for Ariel to be happy. Ariel is surrounded by loving friends, as well. Without their help, Ariel wouldn't get too far on land. This admirable relationship enhances the storyline by spreading positivity to the audience. Furthermore, the production quality of this film is wonderful. The editing and CGI make it look like all the aquatic creatures are real. This is shown when the creatures begin to dance and sing. I applaud the behind-the-scenes crew for creating a movie that is mostly set underwater. It also takes a lot of creativity to make an animated film into a live-action film. The film looks very realistic (as much as it can be with mermaids and sea witches!) In the beginning, the ocean looks very realistic as we watch Ariel swimming in it. In addition to songs from the original film, there are new songs that relate to the characters. Eric has his own song that describes his side of the story. He sings it when he's in search of the girl that saved him from the horrible shipwreck. It's a side I never knew about his character and I really like that Lin-Manuel Miranda composed this song. Actually, Lin-Manuel contributed three new songs--one each for Ariel, Eric and Scuttle. Speaking of songs, my favorite part is "Part of Your World." Halle Bailey's voice is wonderful and full of emotion as she sings this. It really shows her perspective and enhances the storyline. It represents her breakthrough when Ariel realizes she wants to spend her life on land rather than in the ocean. Ariel knows what she wants and she goes through many challenges to finally reach her destination. She also feels as though she doesn't belong, which I can relate to. However, she ends up finding her place while still being true to herself and to her family. Her father finally understands that she needs her own freedom and lets her find what sparks her happiness.

The message of this film is about following your dreams. You should know that there is some risky behavior, like when Ariel disobeys her father's orders and runs away from home.

I give The Little Mermaid 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Little Mermaid releases in theaters on May 26, 2023.

By Sydney S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

After years of anticipation, the live-action version of The Little Mermaid is finally here. With a star-studded cast, this new film contains goosebump-inducing vocals and delightful scenes, quickly turning The Little Mermaid into a favorite for me and my family.

The Little Mermaid is about King Triton's (Javier Bardem) youngest daughter Ariel (Halle Bailey), who is adventurous and curious, ready to learn more about the human world. Defying her father's wishes, she swims to the surface and ends up falling for the charming Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). In order to fulfill her dream of experiencing life above the sea, she makes a costly deal with the evil sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), putting herself and her loved ones in danger.

The Little Mermaid will be engraved into the hearts of audiences after the first watch. After viewing this film, the songs have been stuck in my head. The songs--composed and written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Lin-Manuel Miranda are captivating. Although it is hard to hear the words over the music at times, the vocal delivery from the cast is strong enough to overcome that. The connection between the characters helps the audience grow invested in the story. Ariel trades her angelic voice for an experience as a human. However, even without talking, audiences can see the devotion she has for Prince Eric through Halle Bailey's facial expressions. Guiding Ariel through the process of winning Prince Eric's heart, is Sebastian, a loyal and charismatic crab. Daveed Diggs who voices Sebastian uses perfect comedic timing to make his lines, as well as his character, memorable. The casting team picked actors that have the talent as well as the passion that allow them to convincingly portray these characters.

The message of The Little Mermaid is that sometimes when you love someone, the best thing to do is to let them go. Ariel is so fascinated by the human world, and finds love in it. Her family has to find strength to love her enough to let her go.

I give The Little Mermaid 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Little Mermaid releases on May 26, 2023 in theaters worldwide. This is a film you won't want to miss!

By Maica N., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

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The beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure, "The Little Mermaid" stars singer and actress Halle Bailey as Ariel. The youngest of King Triton's daughters, and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea, and while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land, but ultimately places her life - and her father's crown - in jeopardy.
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