Once you can get past the expectation that realistic animals are going to match the beloved animations, it’s much easier to appreciate their artistry. The live-action fish in “The Little Mermaid” are different, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad.
In the cartoon, Flounder looks pretty big next to Ariel, but in the live-action movie, he’s super TINY! Their new little scale makes the tension between their size and giant fears even more fun, especially in the scene where they explore the shipwreck. His littleness is absolutely adorable.
Sebastian loses his dramatic flair through the naturalistic design; part of what made him such an iconic character in the original movie is his overreactions. But the way his beady eyes sit on top of his head in the live-action design gives him an expression of permanent wonder that really works for Daveed Diggs’ version of the character: an exasperated crab trying to keep the calm.
Scuttle is now a diving bird and his large light blue eyes and long beak really complement his abrasive personality. The realistic designs also make Flotsam and Jetsam that much more terrifying as they glide by in deadly silence. His sharp teeth and pointed eyes look much more deadly than in the cartoon.
Photorealism is superb in “Under the Sea,” showcasing a kaleidoscope of vibrant seahorses, jellyfish, dolphins, and more sea creatures gliding gently through ocean water. The film finds beauty and humor in their natural, fluid movements, like when Ariel sits on top of the waddling turtles. These visuals fit the song’s upbeat vibe rather than a Broadway show, but the number is still just as exciting. “The Little Mermaid” brings fun, sparkle and personality to lifelike fish designs.
“The Little Mermaid” is currently in theaters.