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Why Little Mermaid’s Live-Action Underwater Scenes Look So Weird Detailed By VFX Artists-TGN


  • The VFX artists at Corridor Crew break down the flaws in the underwater scenes of Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid, including improper hair physics and inaccurate lighting.
  • Despite the criticisms, the group acknowledges that they weren’t the target audience and that the film is still well-executed.
  • The fantastical setting of The Little Mermaid invites a suspension of disbelief, and a fully realistic depiction of the deep ocean could have alienated viewers rather than entertain, especially considering the movie’s target audience.



Despite having a powerhouse studio behind it, the VFX artists at Corridor Crew explain what went wrong with The Little Mermaid‘s live-action underwater scenes. Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale and a remake of their own Oscar-winning adaptation, Disney’s 2023 remake brought the tale of the mermaid princess Ariel to live-action with Halle Bailey leading its ensemble cast as she falls in love with a human and questions whether to leave her world behind. Helmed by Disney vet Rob Marshall, The Little Mermaid was only a modest success, garnering mixed-to-positive reviews and grossing $569 million against its $300 million production budget.

In their latest episode of VFX Artists React, the team at Corridor Crew have broken down the underwater scenes from the live-action Little Mermaid remake.

The video, as seen above, sees three of the artists detail the various issues behind the underwater sequences from the movie, ranging from the improper hair physics to the way light improperly shines off of the characters’ skins, despite being deep underwater where light shouldn’t be able to reach. Despite their criticisms, the group acknowledge that they weren’t the target audience for the movie, and that it’s still very well-executed.

Little Mermaid’s Live-Action Underwater Was Never Going To Be Perfect (& It’s Okay)

Halle Bailey as Ariel is looking through a telescope in The Little Mermaid.

It may have come as a surprise to some that the live-action Little Mermaid failed to properly depict its underwater segments, considering it was one of Disney’s most expensive remakes, with various reports putting it either behind Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King while others placed it ahead of both. This figure seems even more prevalent when comparing it to Avatar: The Way of Water, as referenced in the Corridor Crew video, which cost a reported $400 million to make, nearly $100 million more, and largely shot its underwater sequences practically in 10-minute bursts rather than solely on a blue screen.

Despite these factors, though, The Little Mermaid can largely be forgiven for its live-action underwater scenes having so many flaws simply for the kind of movie it is. While Cameron’s long-awaited sci-fi sequel may not be entirely grounded in reality, the Disney remake exists in a more fantastical setting inviting a bigger suspension of disbelief from its audience as it explores a world inhabited by talking sea creatures and magical mermaids.

As acknowledged in the video, the other thing to keep in mind with The Little Mermaid was who its target audience ultimately was, that being a younger demographic. Those who grew up with the Disney animated classic may share some of the sentiments of the Corridor Crew, but given most of them were looking for the same colorful adaptation of the fairytale as some of their children or others who were introduced to the original movie through the likes of Disney+, a fully realistic depiction of the deep ocean could’ve ultimately alienated viewers rather than entertain.

Source: Corridor Crew

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