Ariel, poor girl, already had no voice — and that was before Ursula added amnesia to the mix.
That’s one of the many changes to the classic 1989 Disney animated film made for the new live-action adaptation. Among them are new songs, updated lyrics, new looks, and a personality for Prince Eric.
Here are ways the remake differs from the original.
1. Flounder looks like… a fish.
When audiences got their first look at live-action Flounder in the trailer, there was a shared agreement: he apparently looks too real.
2. The prince is more than just a pretty face.
In the live-action remake, the storyline of Eric is altered to give him and Ariel more things in common. In the animated film, Eric is just a traditional prince character. Now, he gets a burning curiosity and desire to break out of his bubble — wanting to travel uncharted waters.
3. Prince Eric’s mother is introduced.
Although we never see Eric’s father in the new movie, we do meet his mother, Queen Selina. The queen functions as a grounding presence that urges Eric to stay home and tend to the kingdom that he already has, since she isn’t fond of her son’s obsession with oceanic exploration.
4. Ariel and Eric share actual interests.
Though their courtship still takes place in a blink-and-you-miss-it three days, the extra run time means they can do things other than stare at each other in love, like poring over artifacts in Eric’s study and visiting a market.
5. Two beloved tunes sport updated lyrics.
Originally in Kiss the Girl, suggesting Eric do just that without asking, Sebastian now advises him to “use your words, boy, and ask her.” This is to avoid suggesting that Eric would in any way force himself on Ariel. In Poor Unfortunate Souls, while Ursula originally informs Ariel “on land it’s much preferred for ladies not to say a word” and that “it’s she who holds her tongue who gets a man,” the new version drops the entire verse. Those lines potentially give off the impression to young girls that they shouldn’t speak out of turn, even though Ursula is clearly manipulating Ariel.
6. Scuttle is a different species.
Scuttle, one of Ariel’s trio of loyal friends, alongside Sebastian the crab and Flounder the fish, is no longer a seagull. Now, the dimwitted but lovable character has become a northern gannet, a type of diving bird. For plot purposes, this allows Scuttle to visit Ariel underwater, rather than Ariel visiting the forbidden surface.
7. Ariel’s sisters have more screen time.
In the animated version, Ariel’s six sisters are introduced as Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista, and Andrina very briefly at the beginning. In the updated version, they are renamed as Karina, Tamika, Mala, Caspia, Perla, and Indira, and have slightly bigger roles. The women reunite with their father for the annual Coral Moon, help him clean up the kingdom after yet another shipwreck, are sent out on a search party when Ariel goes missing, and later see Ariel off to her new life.
8. There are three new songs added.
The songs that were introduced are Wild Uncharted Waters,For The First Time, and The Scuttlebutt. Each song showcases the vocal abilities of its performers: For the First Time chronicles Ariel’s first steps in the human world, Wild Uncharted Waters is Eric’s big solo about wanting to leave his island and explore the world, and Scuttlebutt is a rap between Scuttle and Sebastian detailing the day’s gossip.
9. Ariel, not Eric, kills the sea-witch.
That’s right, in 2023, women impale their own monsters.
With all of the new additions, the most important one is Halle Bailey playing the role of Ariel. As a black actress, she gets to show people her own version of the original Ariel for a new generation as well as previous ones. It is important to have this kind of representation in today’s society, to show that anyone is capable of being represented in the media.