The Little Mermaid

We all know the story of The Little Mermaid. Created by Hans Christian Andersen and animated by Disney in 1989, this beloved classic has finally gotten the live action remake treatment. Over the years, I have come to tread lightly when it comes to these because I’ve been let down so many times (except for Aladdin which was brilliant). So while I was interested in seeing where they’d take one of my top five Disney flicks, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised with the film. The visual effects were stunning – yes there was a lot of CGI, but I wasn’t bothered by it. The vibrant colours of life under the sea was beautiful. I was completely transported away into this world that I almost wanted to pack my bags and become a mermaid myself!

The best part of the film, was of course, Halle Bailey. This is her film. All the people who were skeptical can step aside because she was born to play Ariel. She made the role her own while also incorporating bits and pieces from her origin. The facial expressions, mannerisms and her VOICE. Her fucking voice was perfection! When she sang Part Of Your World I had chills engulf my whole body and I never wanted it to stop.

In addition to Bailey, we had Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric who was a total clone of his animated counterpart. I was one of those little girls who had a major crush on Eric and to see him come to life like this was a treat. I thought the rest of the casting choices fit as well: Javier Bardem as King Triton was powerful though underused, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder was cute and ever so diligent towards Ariel and Awkwafina was laugh out loud hilarious as Scuttle. Unfortunately I didn’t care much for Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula as I’m simply not a fan of the actress herself. The stand out for me, however, was David Diggs as Sebastian. Every single moment of his was pure gold.

While they tried to bring this story into the 21st century, I didn’t care for many of the updates. The only new song I really enjoyed was Scuttle’s (though I might be biased because it had Lin Manuel Miranda written all over it). The added scenes didn’t really do anything to enrich what we already knew and the run time was a little too long.

All that being said, The Little Mermaid was much better than I ever thought it was going to be. Seeing this story come to life was a major nostalgia trip for me in the best way possible. I do think this is a step in the right direction for Disney going forward and hope it sticks.

Rating: ♥️♥️♥️.5

Pinocchio

We all know the story of Pinocchio. A puppet made out of pine comes to life after his maker wishes upon a star. In order to become a real boy, he must listen to his conscience in doing the right thing. The original 1940 animated feature was never one that played constantly in my house. Though it had an important message for children, it didn’t hold up to the likes of The Lion King, Aladdin or Oliver and Company for me. And if I’m being honest, the scenes at Pleasure Island were terrifying.

When you hear that a movie is getting a reboot or a remake, you expect an updated version of its predecessor. Something that will take it into a modern age so that today’s generation can enjoy it right along with those who grew up with it. Unfortunately, this new version missed the mark. So many things were lacking and while I finished watching it only twenty four hours ago, I can tell you that I’ve already forgotten a lot of it.

Although this fairytale was never one of my favorites, there was something about it that kept even me glued to the screen. The same cannot be said this time around. That Disney magic that we have all come to know and love was nowhere to be found.

For a movie that was supposed to be live action, that aspect was severely lacking. I understand that Pinocchio needed to be CGI, but the animals and some of the backgrounds just did not look realistic enough to me. On top of that, the additional scenes that were included did little to nothing to add to the overall story.

If it wasn’t for Tom Hanks, Cynthia Erivo and Keegan Michael Key, I probably wouldn’t have pushed myself to finish it. It may not be the worst Disney remake I have ever seen (I’m looking at you Mulan), but it is definitely in the top three.

Rating: ♥♥

Encanto

The Madrigals, a family who live in the Columbian mountains, inhabit a magical house. The magical house has given each child a gift over the various years, from super strength to the power of healing. The only child who never received a gift was Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz). Always feeling as if she was left out, Mirabel finally sees purpose in her family when she discovers that the magic is in danger and she takes it upon herself to save it.

I had no idea that Encanto would leave such an impression on me, nor that it would touch me in the way that it did. The story was intricate and unique with many captivating characters. Pepa (Carolina Gaitan), Bruno (John Legizamo) and Isabela (Dianne Guerrero) were among my favorites, but I connected the most with Mirabel. Her desire to fit in and establish her place in her family was all too familiar to me and I loved how realistic she seemed.

Lin Manuel Miranda was behind the soundtrack and he once again excelled in the department. The songs were fun and catchy and I appreciated the fact that there were some Spanish pieces thrown into the mix.

The colorful pallet of the film was unlike anything I had seen before. The house, in particular, seemed to come from a dream. Having the chance to see into each child’s room added to this feeling.

Disney has done it again. I don’t know how they keep me coming back for more and yet here we are. Encanto really had it all. Not only was there an exciting story, it also reinforces the importance family and being proud of who you are. I highly recommend it!

Rating: ♥♥♥♥.5

Jungle Cruise

Based on the Disney ride, Jungle Cruise tells the story of Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) and her quest to find an ancient tree deep in the Amazon that holds the power to heal. Together with her brother McGregor (Jack Whitehall), they enlist the help of Frank (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson), a skipper who knows the river like the back of his hand. Their journey won’t be simple, however, as they are faced with all that the jungle has to offer as well as several foes who covet finding the tree too.

This was a ton of fun! I am so glad I made us watch this in the cinema because we got to experience it the way it was supposed to be experienced. I truly loved everything about this movie. It was full of humor and heart and I cannot get over the amazing chemistry that Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson had with one another. Their back and forth banter was captivating to watch and I could have watched them all day long. I must say though that Jack Whitehall really impressed me. He stole every scene that he was in and I could not stop cracking up at his lines.

The plot itself was interesting and kept me entranced the whole way through. I was on the edge of my seat and just when I thought I knew what was going to happen next, I had to think again. Time completely flew by and I didn’t want it to end.

Once again, Disney really outdid themselves. The effects were next level and at times I really felt like I was there. I had high hopes for Jungle Cruise and it did not disappoint. I was left a permanent smile on my face that I am sure won’t go away anytime soon. Fingers crossed they end up turning it into a franchise because I would totally be onboard.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥