After all the hate Disney got thrown at them for casting a Black Ariel for the new live action of “The Little Mermaid,” it was only right to cast Halle Bailey to put the haters to shame. With the new Disney version now in theaters, Sebastian is back and funnier, classic songs are back and reimagined while Ariel is still her clever, curious self — with a twist.
Here’s five things different about the 2023 live action “Little Mermaid”:
The Diversity Elephant in the Room
If you haven’t been living under the sea, you know that the new Princess Ariel is Halle Bailey, a singer and actress, well known for her roles in Disney’s “Let It Shine” and “Lion King” as well as “Grownish.” Halle’s new princess role has been received excitedly by girls of color all over. And you’ll be happy to know in the new live-action film, Ariel’s locs are showcased naturally on land. However under the sea her locs look less like locs and more like straight hair. That being my only critique, Halle Bailey does an amazing job bringing Ariel to life with every note she sings and facial expression she makes.
Ariel’s New Personality
Still charming and curious, director Rob Marshall, expanded more on who Ariel is with more scenes of Ariel exploring life on land and helping others. In the live-action version, Ariel has a new sense of humor and adventure, guaranteeing you’ll fall in love with her.
Costuming and Makeup
Losing her red lips, Halle Bailey’s Ariel has a more natural makeup look, thanks to makeup artist Natalie Abizadeh. Under the sea, Ariel almost looks like she has on no makeup at all. And makeup isn’t the only thing seemingly more natural. Costume designer Colleen Awood designs Ariel’s dresses to reflect her carefree and adventurous nature. Trading in sparkly ball gowns for short flowy dresses, Ariel’s outfits better reflect who she is and not what the palace wants her to be.
Love Story with Prince Eric
Unlike the original animated “Little Mermaid,” Halle Bailey’s Ariel does not have love at first sight with Prince Eric. Instead of fantasizing about a life with him, she just fantasizes of a life on land. This made the romance more enjoyable to watch. The chemistry between Halle Bailey (Ariel) and Jonah Hauer-King (Prince Eric) was untouchable and had me fangirling the whole time. Instead of including Sebastian almost becoming dinner, the 2023 film took more time to show how Prince Eric and Ariel fell in love and is just the thing for slow-burn romance fans.
Ariel’s Friends and Foes
Ariel wasn’t the only character to transform for the live action. Our favorite know-it all-seagull, Scuttle, is now a girl voiced by Aquafina. But gender wasn’t the most noticeable difference in the film, our friendly fish Flounder, voiced by Jacob Trembley, arguably got a makeover for the worst, looking nothing like how he did in the original 1989 film, but still with the same lovable nature. Sebastian, voiced by Daveed Diggs, also looks different (in efforts to make the sea friends more realistic), but still a great comedic relief for the film and arguably funnier in the live action. Lastly, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Melissa McCarthy does as Ursula. Usually, a comedic actress, Melissa McCarthy makes a powerful, witty Ursula that will literally take your voice away.
“The Little Mermaid” has never been my favorite princess but after seeing the new live-action film, my feelings have changed. No longer just searching for her love at first sight and a slow burn to die for, the new live-action “Little Mermaid” will make you laugh, love, and leave the theater saying “That’s my princess!”