Growing up, The Little Mermaid was one of my favourite Disney movies.Director Rob Marshall, who has helmed films such as Mary Poppins Returns (2018) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), takes an artistic approach to The Little Mermaid and it doesn’t work for the film. With the sea route already place by directors John Musker and Ron Clements, and writer Hans Christian Andersen in 1989 through the animation version, Marshall has a cooked screenplay on the table. However, instead of adapting to the crisp 83-minute narration that the animated version had, he decides to cook this fish a tad bit longer, resulting in a bland meal.

Stretching the film to a good 135-minute long, Marshall offers nothing new from what we have already seen in the animated version. Instead, he prolongs scenes to make it look like an emersive experience. He makes you ride the harsh waters with Ariel and watch the sunset from the castle on the shore with Prince Eric (played by Jonah Hauer‑King), but you are made to absorb the moment for far too long that you just want to flip the page over and move on. This robs away the magical experience of The Little Mermaid, making a boring movie.I know, I know, the fairytale forced a girl to let go of her magic for a man and in today’s time, it doesn’t fit our bills. But The Little Mermaid had all the elements to make it a fun watch. Not only does it feature a mystical underwater world that is filled with colour and life but it also featured a crisp storyline and a terrifying Ursula who did leave me scared for a couple of days when I was a child.

When Walt Disney Studios announced that it was bringing back the magical underwater world to the big screen and in live-action avatar with Halle Bailey in the lead, I was apprehensive. Disney has not been hitting the bulls eye when it comes to live-action. Besides The Jungle Book and The Lion King, every movie has felt like it needed an extra dash of magic. My apprehensions about The Little Mermaid were not wrong.

To begin with the good parts, Halle Bailey easily fits into the curious and rebellious yet naive Ariel. Not only did the actress excels at getting perfectly under the skin and into to tail of the character. But unfortunately, the screenplay acts like an iceberg in her free-sailing performance.