Disney has been very careful about keeping details about its upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid from director Rob Marshall under wraps ahead of its May 26th debut. Aside from one shadowy trailer and a couple of promotional images, we haven’t really been able to see that much of Halle Bailey’s Ariel and the underwater world she calls home. But a new short teaser spotlights the small mermaid princess in action, and while The Little Mermaid certainly looks magical, it also seems a bit muted in a way that has nothing to do with Ariel’s voice.
For people with sense, there’s never been any question about Halle Bailey’s ability to bring to life a new yet very classic version of Disney’s Ariel to life, and she both looks and sounds every bit the part in The Little Mermaid’s teaser that spotlights her paling around with a pufferfish. Short as the teaser is, you can tell from the sweeping shots of Ariel swimming / dancing through clouds of jellyish what kind of a magical place this Little Mermaid’s ocean is meant to be.
But the trailer also makes it seem like The Little Mermaid — which is “live-action” in the sense that it features CGI animation meant to approximate reality — is going for a naturalistic aesthetic might not always serve the story well. It’s hard to tell from just a few seconds of footage just how well a movie’s aesthetic language works, and the new Little Mermaid can and should be trying to do things somewhat different than Disney’s 1989 classic. The new movie also seems to be sticking somewhat close to its predecessor, though, which may make the disparity in vibrance a notable one, but perhaps not an important one when The Little Mermaid hits theaters this May.