Disney's The Little Mermaid: 4 key differences between the animated and live-action versions

Disney, The Little Mermaid
Disney, The Little Mermaid / Don Arnold/GettyImages
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Melissa McCarthy, Tony Chambers
CinemaCon 2023 - Walt Disney Studios Presentation / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Fourth Major Difference in Disney's The Little Mermaid': Ursula's demise

Finally, the last major difference that we saw between the original animated version of The Little Mermaid and the new, live-action version is how Ursula is defeated. Disney followed most of the same specifics from the original in the new version. Ursula turns into her human counterpart and uses Ariel's voice to put Prince Eric under a spell. Two small differences occur at this point too. There isn't a wedding, but actually an engagement party. Also, the engagement party takes place at the castle and not on a ship. Otherwise, the feel is very similar to what we saw in the original.

Once Ariel rips the shell necklace from Ursula's throat and her voice is returned, the spell on Prince Eric is lifted. Ariel and Prince Eric embrace for a kiss, but it is too late. The sun sets and poof, Ariel returns to mermaid form. This is also when Ursula reveals herself, grabs Ariel and pulls her into the ocean. King Triton chooses to relinquish his trident to Ursula in exchange for Ariel's life. Prince Eric attempts to stop Ursula by throwing harpoon arrows at her. Just like in the animated feature, Ursula zaps her two eels, Flotsam and Jetsam, by mistake. This enrages Ursula.

Ursula is portrayed by actress Melissa McCarthy and I felt that she did a great job. In this scene, Ursula follows the animated version and uses the trident to grow to an enormous size. She creates a whirlpool and one of the ships from below rises. Here is where things change in a small, but drastic way. As Ursula is attempting to kill Prince Eric, Ariel cranks the wheel of this ship, turning the broken bowsprit into Ursula's abdomen — essentially killing her. The major difference here is that in Disney's animated version of The Little Mermaid, Eric is the one who kills Ursula with the ship.

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Overall, I thought the live-action version of The Little Mermaid was great. Personally, I still preferred the live-action adaptations of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin more, but this film is definitely one that I would watch more than once. I am looking forward to it being added to Disney+ later this summer.