Resurfacing Errors: Little Mermaid Remake Follows Original's Plot Hole
Why did the new movie repeat The Little Mermaid's original bleak ending?
As expected, Rob Marshall's remake of Disney's 1989 immortal classic The Little Mermaid brought some changes to the story of the spirited mermaid Ariel. Making the protagonist a stronger and more fierce character who personally confronts the Big Bad was certainly a good move, as it sends the right message to young audiences.
In addition, Ariel's friendships and relationship with Prince Eric are now more nuanced, to the overall benefit of the story. However, there was one change that desperately needed to happen, but never did. Unfortunately, the 2023 live-action adaptation repeated the plot hole that made the animated film's finale so far-fetched and bleak.
In the original musical, the main antagonist, the treacherous sea witch Ursula, uses Ariel as ransom to obtain Triton's magical trident. When she succeeds, she turns Triton into a polyp and tries to kill Ariel, but Eric intervenes and attacks the villain. The Prince is human though and needs air, so he has to return to the surface — and when he does, instead of using the powerful weapon she just acquired, Ursula sends her eels after him, which turns out to be a tragic mistake.
Why didn't Ursula use the trident to fry Eric? That's the big question of both the original and the remake, which repeated this discrepancy.
Eric was an easy target while swimming to the surface, and there is no doubt about it the killing power of the trident, as we saw Triton use it like a gun, firing bolts of lightning at will. And just seconds later, Ursula uses the magic device to grow to monstrous size and summon a storm.
Even if Melissa McCarthy's Ursula couldn't use the trident as a weapon for some reason, 2023's The Little Mermaid didn't bother to take the time to explain it. On the contrary, since the reboot shows Ursula as Triton's sister, her inability to fire the magic weapon becomes even more suspicious. Looks like the antagonist became trigger-shy just because Ariel and Eric needed a happy ending.
That was a cheap deus ex machina that once again ruined the finale of The Little Mermaid. Even in fairy tales, the protagonists certainly deserve a real fight as the climax of their story.