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The Little Mermaid – Review

The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid


Release Date: 1 December (Internet)
Director: Blake Harris - Chris Bouchard
Writer: Blake Harris [Screenplay] - Hans Christian Andersen [Fairy-tale]
Cast: William Moseley - Poppy Drayton - Loreto Peralta



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Posted December 17, 2018 by

The Little Mermaid – Review

Cam Harris (William Moseley) is a reporter who has recently taken custody of his niece, Elle (Loreto Peralta), after an accident killed her parents. Elle is a sickly child, prone to asthmatic attacks that keep increasing in severity, prompting Cam to look for alternative methods to cure her.

When Cam’s boss sends him to investigate reports of miraculous healing water that has been curing people of all kinds of ailments in Mississippi, Cam and Elle take a trip there to find out more. While in Mississippi, they live with Lorene (Jo Marie Payton), and visit the circus where the healing cure can be procured. But the circus also has another major attraction – a real live mermaid.

Elle is immediately enchanted by the mermaid, even more so when she and Cam cross paths with her again, this time on land. The mermaid, Elizabeth (Poppy Drayton), is a friendly soul but she harbours a secret about her true nature.

What started out as a routine investigation for Cam turns into an adventure that he, Elle, and Elizabeth will never forget.

The film starts off with an animated re-telling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid fairy-tale, and then proceeds to share an alternative version via a grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) telling her granddaughters bed-time stories, intermittently returning to this setting, ala Princess Bride. It isn’t till the very end that the significance of these characters becomes obvious.

According to IMDB, the trailer for this film wracked up 40 million views in just two weeks. Unfortunately, the film does not live up to the hype.

The biggest problem with this film is that it feels more like a conglomeration of scenes rather than a cohesive story. Things happen but rarely have any impact on the story. It often feels like writer-director Blake Harris wanted to include bits of everything, but didn’t think through how they would work together. So, we end up having a random scene where Cam rescues an elephant, which does nothing to advance the story. Why Cam is drawn to it, instead of the other animals in the circus, is never explored.

Characters are introduced willy-nilly, and points of view shift as and when the director wants it to, which makes for a jarring viewing experience. And the less we talk of the sudden introduction of a character’s powerful magical abilities in the final act, the better. Our suspension of disbelief about the convenience of someone having such powers just when the narrative requires it can take us only so far.

There is also a bizarre scene right at the end that seems badly edited or, worse, unfinished, which seriously makes me wonder who green-lit the film in the first place. So little appears to have been thought through in the production of this film.

The plot is so routine, you can practically watch it with your eyes closed. What is frustrating is that there are moments when it seems the film is going to explore a different angle, but those plot points are often dropped, or ignored, in favour of a badly-developed romance and fight scenes that are cringe-worthy to watch. It honestly feels like Harris was trying to do everything with this one film, and sadly, he accomplished none of it.

The Little Mermaid - Review

One would hope that the acting would at least be able to elevate a deeply flawed script, but you would be wrong there. The supporting cast ham it up and Shirley MacLaine is completely wasted.

While Loreto Peralta ably portrays the wide-eyed wonder of Elle, there is little substance to the character for her to spread her wings. The only time in the film when Peralta is able to emote is in a scene that has no follow-through at all.

Poppy Drayton as the mermaid Elizabeth has scarce little to do aside from being a damsel in distress, which is astounding for a film released in 2018. Why she doesn’t get to be the protagonist of this story is beyond me, especially considering how important female characters are in fairy-tales. Drayton’s only scene of note is when she sings about her hopes for a better future – she has a rather lovely singing voice and it is a shame she doesn’t get to sing again in the film.

William Moseley as Cam only has two facial expressions – happy or angry. He has no chemistry with Drayton at all, but lights up whenever he appears in scenes with Peralta’s Elle. This film would honestly have been better served if it focused on Cam being a father figure to Elle, rather than his romance with Elizabeth.

The shoddy editing does Moseley no favours. Far too often in the film, the camera cuts to a reaction shot of Moseley that seems completely out of sync with the events taking place. Not only is this jarring for the viewer, but it makes Moseley seem like he’s appearing in a completely different scene. It doesn’t help that scenes generally appear to be randomly stitched together, like the director was unable, or unwilling, to leave any shots on the cutting room floor.

I am disheartened that The Little Mermaid turned out to be as bad as it did. The story is a classic fairy-tale, and despite its extremely problematic hypothesis, it means a great deal to young people everywhere. What was the point of making this film if there was going to be so little effort to do it any justice?

With truly appalling direction, extremely poor acting, and flawed editing that took the viewer out of the film in almost every scene, The Little Mermaid is an unfortunate take on a classic that never delivers on the promise of its premise.


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Louis Skye
Freelance Contributor

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