The latest adaptation of an animated film to a live-action movie by Disney is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.
“The Little Mermaid” Grade C: This is the latest in the endless string of productions where Disney Studios has strutted and fretted live actors across the stage to semi-recreate the company’s animated films. It follows the likes of “The Lion King,” “Cinderella,” “Dumbo,” “Aladdin” and “101 Dalmatians.”
None of the live versions have been able to match the quality of the animated tales and “The Little Mermaid” is no exception. It’s not bad simply because it is heavily based on a story that worked before. The script by David Magee (“Mary Poppins Returns”) has been tweaked to make Ariel (Halle Bailey) less of a damsel in distress and to include a few more musical numbers. None of these changes do much good in terms of improving on the original.
The musical numbers are hit and miss. All of the hits can be credited to Alan Menken and Howard Ashman who won two Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Song for “Under the Sea.” Their soundtrack is one of the best ever produced for a Disney production.
The errors could have been overlooked if director Rob Marshall had been less passive with the presentation of the film. The man behind such films as “Into the Woods” and “Chicago” either falls back to the original look of the animated film (especially noticeable in the “Under the Sea” number) or fails to create energy where needed in big action scenes.
Marshall’s work is like the entire production in that it takes no chances. The casting, new songs and overall look aren’t strong enough to promote or weak enough to disparage.
Also new on DVD and Blu-ray as of Sept. 19
“Fire Country: Season One”: This television drama about prisoners being used to fight California fires has been a big hit for CBS.
“Bad City”: When a mafia-connected businessman runs for mayor, a former police captain imprisoned for a brutal murder is released in a final desperate effort to reclaim the city.
“The Exorcist”: The 1973 horror film is being re-released in 4K Ultra HD.
“Past Lives”: Two close friends reunite after being apart for 20 years.
“Fall”: Two friends are trapped after climbing 2,000 feet to the top of a remote, abandoned radio tower.
“Biosphere”: A remote research facility in Antarctica has been overrun by a mysterious force.
“The Collective”: A group of assassins go after a human trafficking ring backed by a network of billionaires.
Available through digital platforms
“Slotherhouse”: An adorable sloth has a deadly impact on a sorority.
“Nandor Fodor and the Talking Mongoose”: A famed paranormal psychologist (Simon Pegg) investigates a family’s claims of a talking animal, He uncovers a mysterious web of hidden motives.“The Swan Princess: Far Longer Than Forever”: Royal couple must go into hiding as famed magicians after their lives are threatened. Will be released on DVD on Oct. 24.