The Little Mermaid reactions say Halle Bailey is the perfect Ariel

Halle Bailey in The Little Mermaid
(Image credit: Disney)

The Little Mermaid reactions are in – and while they glow with praise for Halle Bailey as Ariel, they're more muddled on the rest of the live-action remake. 

The film stars Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and Awkwafina as Scuttle. Rob Marshall directs. 

"#TheLittleMermaid is the best Disney live-action adaptation to date. Halle Bailey IS Ariel," says The Direct's Gillian Blum. "Major props to the sound effects team. Good changes, though one new song with too much autotune. Could watch this version's Under the Sea all day, it was the highlight of the whole thing." 

"#TheLittleMermaid can be an enchanting reimagining that expands upon the story of the animated original with modern themes," is the verdict of critic Michael Lee. "It's romantic and full of musical joy, even if it's slightly overstuffed. If anything, Halle Bailey carries the film entire film with her performance."

"Halle Bailey IS #TheLittleMermaid. An angelic voice, the longing in her eyes, the chemistry with Jonah Hauer-King. She's flawless," says Collider's Perri Nemiroff. "The movie overall isn't but there's more than enough charm, heart and adventure there to power it forward. Melissa McCarthy is a deliciously devilish Ursula. (Some of my favorite effects work comes in the third act and focuses on her.) And Daveed Diggs is STELLAR as Sebastian. A favorite of the film by far."

"It may look visually rough under the sea, but THE LITTLE MERMAID eventually recreates some of the original's magic through its timeless story & cast," says Next Best Picture's Matt Neglia. "Daveed Diggs & Melissa McCarthy are highlights but Halle Bailey is the one astonishes with her gorgeous singing & empathetic charm"

"Endearing but uneven, #TheLittleMermaid doesn't deliver the magic of the animated classic but there are plenty of creative touches from Rob Marshall to float the audience's boats. Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy are great. Daveed Diggs and Awkwafina provide solid comic relief," says journalist Simon Thompson

Film critic Courtney Howard says: "#TheLittleMermaid: Charming, but incredibly spotty. Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy & Javier Bardem put their heart & souls into a film that can't escape its animated legacy. Best when it leans into campy bonkers, yet limits its fantasy elements for no reason."

"It's real simple. Are you excited for #TheLittleMermaid? You'll like it. It’s exactly what you think it is," thinks Gizmodo's Germain Lussier. "Are you skeptical and worried about it? That's valid too. It looks weird and disjointed. Bailey is great, McCarthy rules, the songs work but it just feels so unnecessary."

"Disney's #TheLittleMermaid is definitely one of the better live-action adaptions," says Fandango's Erik Davis. "Halle Bailey pours incredible emotion into Ariel and I got chills watching her, while Melissa McCarthy's Ursula and Daveed Diggs' Sebastian steal scenes all day."

The Little Mermaid arrives in theaters this May 26. In the meantime, check out our guide to all the upcoming Disney movies for everything else the studio has in store. 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.