I’ve always been rather fond of the story of The Little Mermaid, a love that admittedly began with the Disney version, and have enjoyed a number of variations to the story ever since. So, naturally, I was over the moon excited the first time I saw the trailer for the live action version that came out two years ago–crazy to think that I saw it when it came out and am only now writing a review–especially as it featured two actors that I absolutely adore, William Mosley and Poppy Drayton. At the time I saw the trailer, I had to wait over a year for the movie to release, desperately searching for the date that it would finally come on numerous occasions every time it popped back into my thoughts. Everything about this film seemed wonderful and I honestly just needed it in my life.
So, naturally, I had to go and see it as soon as it finally came out in theaters.
And skies, it was amazing. The movie began with Poppy Drayton narrating over a little mermaid story very familiar to those who’ve heard one before, but with a uniquely original twist that only served to increase my excitement and pleasure exponentially at finally seeing this long-awaited film. And with this love that I had for the story as well as the way the whole thing began, the somewhat mediocre bit with the grandmother and the two kids was something I might easily overlook because the actual story was just so brilliant.
For the first half of this movie, this statement was true. It genuinely was a brilliant film. But then, came the ending.
And no, this isn’t one of those “it ended too soon,” or “it was so good that I needed more” type of problematic endings, but instead it was this rather wonky set up that killed all the hope, promise, magic, and wonder about the entire film. It felt as though the writers had begun with a specific plot and then completely forgot about it halfway through in favor of a more unique, sure, but certainly more idiotic plot. For one thing, they were focusing on the wrong story. For another, it was rushed. And every piece of the plot involving Elle was so annoying and ridiculous that The Little Mermaid was basically ruined for me. It took so much away from the initial story as narrated by the wonderful Poppy Drayton and ultimately created one of the most disappointing endings that I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
I didn’t care for the extra characters, who basically existed as a sort of randomly inserted cannon fodder at the climax of the film as they were hardly introduced or even relevant before they all basically became weird sort of sacrifices so the others could get away. It felt like they came out of nowhere since we spent almost zero time with them in the first place and they became rather pointless as a result. Elle was a frustrating character in that she never should have been a focal point at all and I could have done entirely without her existence, though I wouldn’t have minded her if she’d merely been what she should have been, which is a side and supporting character.
And then, at the very end, we come back to the grandmother–whose identity is painfully obvious so I’m not even sure why they tried to keep it secret in the first place–as she finishes telling her grandkids the story of the mermaid. No spoilers, of course, but it was the most abrupt and moronic ending they could have gone with, all for the sake of their new plot, one that took away entirely from the mermaid and her story and I frankly believe that they never should have included to begin with.
I think, ultimately, that was the most depressing part of it all. You see, with an opening as brilliant as the one they had, this film had so much potential. It was all thrown away as carelessly as one would toss a gum wrapper in favor of someone else’s story, a story that wasn’t even all that interesting or engaging at all. The love story that I’m sure everyone felt prepared to watch was glossed over and incredibly minimal, ignored for the story of a little girl and a solution to a problem that was dumb and annoying. I had so much hope for this movie, but in trying to do something original the writers and filmmakers ruined what could have been a fantastic retelling of a classic story that I’ve always deeply adored.