THE LITTLE MERMAID Reviews Splash Down And It's Either The Worst Or Best Live-Action Disney Movie Yet

The review embargo for The Little Mermaid has lifted, but what's the verdict on Disney's latest remake? Well, we've rounded up the opinions of several critics, and they make for interesting reading...

Disney's live-action remakes have always had something of a tough time with critics. When they adhere too closely to the animated classics they're based on, it's a boring retread. However, if they attempt to reinvent the wheel, then those hoping to see the cartoon brought to life are left underwhelmed. 

Finding the right balance is something the House of Mouse has struggled with, but there are plenty of critical and commercial hits (such as Aladdin and The Lion King). 

The Little Mermaid has generated plenty of headlines, both for the decision to cast Halle Bailey as Ariel and for various changes which have been made to the songs and story. Now, though, the reviews are in, so what are critics saying about this latest live-action remake?


Between Bailey’s wide-eyed urchin and McCarthy’s over-the-top octo-hussy, the movie comes alive — not in some zombified form, like re-animated Disney debacles 'Dumbo' and 'Pinocchio,' but in a way that gives young audiences something magical to identify with, and fresh mermaid dreams to aspire to. - Variety

The live animation techniques are weakest on land, as when Ariel and Eric spend the evening on the lagoon. The inert quality of these scenes makes Ursula’s subsequent appearance to wreak havoc feel more welcome than it probably should. At last, I thought, a reminder of the more vibrant world our little mermaid left behind. - The Hollywood Reporter

McCarthy, as Ursula, offers her best tribute to the character’s original inspiration, the drag queen Divine. It’s a commendable performance that will make you wonder what might have been if Disney had the guts to feature an actual drag queen in the role. But it speaks to a wider issue here: Bailey aside, this Little Mermaid is yesterday’s fish served up dry and inedible. [2/5] - The Independence

The Little Mermaid doesn’t lack for talent or audience goodwill – director Rob Marshall did wonders with Mary Poppins Returns – but the siren call of supposedly surefire box office has sunk it nonetheless. There is dry land in sight though, and it’s the same outcrop on which the House of Mouse was built: the realisation that some stories – the most magical ones, in fact – are best told with animation. [2/5] - The Guardian

The Little Mermaid retains the heart and spirit of the animated classic, while adding new elements that offer a fresh perspective on familiar events. Thanks in large part to Bailey's outstanding performance, this adaptation has the potential to captivate a new generation of Disney fans. [4/5] - Digital Spy

[In] a clamshell, this is a fun, fresh adventure, one of Disney's best live-action remakes by a nautical mile. [4/5] - Total Film

The human world, it's a mess, but with Halle Bailey, life under the sea is better than anything Disney live-action has done in nearly a decade. [A-] - Entertainment Weekly

The CGI animation is stunningly done, technically speaking, but the heart and spirit of such beloved characters like Flounder is sadly compromised. Running at a reasonably tight two hours, The Little Mermaid adds enough spin, talent and new story to make the remake a more worthy endeavour than most – but the bulk of its success is down to Bailey who is surely flipping her fins to stardom. [4/5] - Metro

Another ‘live-action’ remake that’s darker and less compelling than the animated original, but it’s saved by Bailey’s charming performance, McCarthy’s sass and the story’s own eternal magic. [3/5] - Empire Online

As you can see, the reviews are a tad mixed, but for every negative verdict, there's seemingly a positive one to counter it. 

While we'd say these verdicts skew more positive than they do negative right now, it won't be until that all-important Rotten Tomatoes score is generated that we get a better idea of the overall consensus. Either way, we'd imagine The Little Mermaid will still be a box office his this weekend. 

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