‘The Little Mermaid’ First Reactions Praise Halle Bailey’s ‘Astonishing’ Ariel, Question if Remake Lives Up to Animated Original

Audiences have made their first trip under the sea for Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid” starring Halle Bailey. With the film’s Los Angeles premiere now concluding, first reactions to the musical have begun to hit social media.

Ahead of its May 26 debut in theaters, Disney unveiled footage of “The Little Mermaid” at last month’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas, showing an early glimpse at Melissa McCarthy singing “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as Ursula.

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Variety also reported that director Rob Marshall and his husband, producer John DeLuca, held a private screening of the film, with a guest list including Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Matt Damon and Ben Platt. The star-studded audience apparently applauded after each musical number and continued to rave during a post-screening reception.

The musical features a soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken (who wrote the score for the 1989 original), with four new original songs. Along with Bailey and McCarthy, the cast also includes Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina, Jacob Tremblay voicing Flounder, Daveed Diggs voicing Sebastian and Awkwafina voicing Scuttle.

First reactions generally praise Bailey’s turn as Ariel in the film.

Variety artisans editor Jazz Tangcay was a big fan, calling Bailey “extraordinary” and McCarthy a “bad-ass.”

Critic and Variety contributor Courtney Howard called the film “charming, but incredibly spotty,” highlighting some of the actors.

Journalist and Variety contributor Simon Thompson said that the film “doesn’t deliver the magic of the animated classic,” but says there are enough new additions to keep things interesting.

Kirsten Acuna, correspondent for Insider, called the film “mostly paint-by-numbers.”

Gizmodo and io9 contributor said the movie is “exactly what you think it is,” arguing those who are excited for the film will enjoy it but that it “just feels so unnecessary.”

Next Best Picture editor-in-chief Matt Neglia said the film looks “visually rough” under the sea, but highlighted Bailey’s “gorgeous singing and empathetic charm.”

See more reactions below.

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