Oh hey, a live-action Little Mermaid movie that isn’t related to Disney! What’re the odds?
For those of you not in the know, some time ago, there was a live-action remake in the works for Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID, and was originally going to star one of my absolute favorite younger actresses, Chloë Grace Moretz. But then that little hoe decided to break our collective and entitled hearts that she wanted to retire from acting and experience a normal teenage, slash, young adult existence. HOW DARE SHE!!! In case I’m not clear, I absolutely adore Moretz, I would never say these things in a serious fashion. I will always support young actors stepping away from the limelight to not miss out on their youth should that be their choice. But for the sake of shit-throwing jokes, and my natural being a dick to anyone and everyone and my penchant for making up lies, Moretz hates everyone, everything, including puppies and kittens. Of course, Moretz is back into acting, though the projects she’s been choosing have been under the radar and- holy shit, I’m getting off track here!
The point is, the Little Mermaid project she was a part of, this isn’t that project. This is a whole different thing and, I’m not going to lie, I kind of knew about it. Thing is, I was under the impression that it already came out, probably as a Netflix thing, or… something, I don’t know. But I didn’t expect an actual theatrical release anywhere near me. Yet, here we are.
I’ve already seen the movie, so I’m skipping what I thought the story was about.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Poppy Drayton (THE SHANNARA CHRONICLES [2016 – ongoing], and upcoming films SEE YOU SOON  and THE RISING HAWK ), William Moseley (FRIEND REQUEST , and the upcoming IN LIKE FLYNN ), Armando Gutierrez (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and upcoming films TRICO TRI HALLOWEEN  and ANASTASIA ), Shirley MacLaine (THE LAST WORD ), and Loreto Peralta (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of).
Now for the crew. Writing and co-directing, we have Blake Harris, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Harris’ co-director is Chris Bouchard, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Composing the score is Jeremy Rubolino, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and upcoming films TRICO TRI HALLOWEEN and ANASTASIA. The cinematographer is Neil Oseman, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming HERETIKS (2018). Finally, co-editing are married couple, Colleen and Richard Halsey, known for THE SISTER ACT (1992), EDWARD SISSORHANDS (1990), and the upcoming PURGE OF KINGDOMS (2019)
This is my honest opinion of: THE LITTLE MERMAID
A grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) finishes reading her two young granddaughters the Little Mermaid book, but they exclaim that mermaids aren’t real. However, grandma begins to tell a story about a young man named Cam Harrison (William Moseley), an investigative journalist who is skeptical of a rumored helping of magical water that is said to have cured people of ailments, ranging from psychosis to deafness, all while looking after his young niece, Elle (Loreto Peralta). Cam’s investigation leads him to the local circus where he and Elle, enjoying the attractions are shown a supposed real life mermaid, named Elizabeth (Poppy Drayton). However, while skeptical of her authenticity, as she is later shown to have legs, things may still not be as they seem and Cam’s perception of reality is shaken to his core and becomes entangled in a struggle for Elizabeth’s soul at the hands of an evil sorcerer.
If you were worried that a movie that had absolutely no marketing team behind it… then you’re absolutely right to feel that way. This movie sucks. Hard. I’m not going to lie, it’s basically FREE WILLY (1993), with a hint of X-Men and THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987), but all on a low budget and zero charm.
First of all, I doubt many people will be seeing this, on Netflix or otherwise, so I’m not overly worried about spoiling, but it’s painfully obvious that Grandma is Elle. They tried to make that a big reveal in the end, but… no, you can’t out Princess Bride THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Screw you, movie.
Sadly, the rest of the movie doesn’t fare any better.
While no one is a particularly good actor in this movie, the worst offender is Gutierrez as the villain. Dude, this guy feels like he was plucked from the classroom of his first acting lesson. He’s trying so hard to be intimidating, but he has no charisma with the camera. His line reads are dull, he overacts with his hands especially. It doesn’t help that he had no good director to reel him in either, so this was as dull a performance from someone who is clearly trying, but has no idea what he’s doing, at its worst.
It also kind of hurts to see Drayton in this. While I can’t say that I’ve seen her in anything outside of THE SHANNARA CHRONICLES, I do admit to enjoying her performance in that. Hey, she plays an elf and does a solid job, so if you were to tell me she’d do a solid job of playing a mermaid, I’d believe you. And, for the most part, she’s… passable. However, charming as she can be, her talent and natural likability does not subvert the script and poor direction. Elizabeth is almost embarrassingly bland. No joke, the first scene where we get “character development” about her, she spontaneously breaks out into a song. Oh no, this movie is not a musical, and she’s not modestly singing to herself either. No, she’s full on belting out stanzas and singing as if this actually was a musical. It only happens this one time throughout the movie, so to say that it’s a little out of place would be a fairly decent sized understatement. To make matters worse, the song is just as bland as her character. You can probably guess what the song is without me even telling you, but let’s play that game. Take a moment to guess what this song is about. Got an idea in your mind? Good, let’s see how you did. The song she sings is about how she wants to be free to be who she wants and to be loved for who she is. Yeah… yeah, that’s what the song is about. Drayton’s got a pretty voice. Too bad it’s squandered on something that someone probably burped out during a slumber party.
Remember when I said that this is also basically an X-Men film? Well, it kind of is. All of a sudden, without any real rhyme or reason, the climax is all about superpowers. We have a wolf man who has superhuman strength, throwing people through walls, and having not-so-climactic fight scenes with henchmen. Seriously, I didn’t even know who this character was until the climax. We also have a tarot card reader who is also a powerful telekinetic. Yes, an entire scene is dedicated to her going full on Charles Xavier and freezing time. By the way, all these people, Elizabeth, the tarot card reader, the wolf man, their imprisonment makes no sense when you think about it. Have the tarot card reader freeze time, rip Elizabeth’s soul from around Locke’s neck and escape. Even if he breaks free from the time-freeze, it’s not like the rules of her powers are explained and it’s not like she appears to be exhausted from doing it. In fact, it looks more like it’s a proximity issue. But nothing about it seems like it’s possible that these people are prisoners of a wizard who shouldn’t be able to win.
Even the plot loses focus at some point. The story would have been fine… ish, if it was just about a man who falls in love with a mermaid and sets her free. But then it throws in a “chosen one” plotline out of nowhere and barely has any meaningful impact on the movie. Yeah, apparently, Locke’s been searching for a special person connecting to Elizabeth, who is basically Elle. This connection is barely made clear as all we really understand is that “she has the heart of a mermaid.” I have no idea what that means either. I guess it means that she’s half mermaid because the closing shot of the movie is of two mermaid fins, so… Elle is part mermaid, I guess. I have no clue.
Guys, I haven’t even scratched the surface of this movie’s senselessness. Character choices make no sense, making them appear as either completely stupid or utterly selfish. Yeah, let’s just say Elizabeth is completely okay with Elle dying just so Elizabeth can go swimming in the ocean again. Some characters even appear conveniently as plot devices and nothing more substantial, subplots are completely dropped, by God, even the poster barely makes sense. “A new twist on the classic TAIL”? Really? I don’t even know where to start with that. There are so many other problems that it would take hours to list and I just don’t have the patience or time. But I should consider something really quick. It’s a kids movie. It’s rated PG. And as far as kids movies go, it’s… harmless enough. There’s not exactly any blatantly terrible morals, it’s just a run of the mill bad kids movie. As a recommendation, just watch Disney’s animated version and you and your kids will likely get more out of it. This movie has almost nothing. While I won’t always agree with Disney’s decision to make live-action remakes of their animated properties, and most of them have been pretty divisive in terms of quality storytelling, I can’t imagine their live-action movie can be as bad as this.
My honest rating for THE LITTLE MERMAID: 2/5
This week’s reviews
- THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST
- THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
- THE BOOKSHOP
- SUPPORT THE GIRLS
Next week’s reviews:
- OPERATION FINALE
- THE LITTLE STRANGER
- LET THE CORPSES TAN / LAISSEZ BRONZER LES CADAVRES
- YA VEREMOS / WE’LL SEE