HALLE Bailey is set to make a splash in cinemas this week as she leads Disney’s The Little Mermaid, a new take on the studio’s 1989 classic animation.

The 1980s marked a pretty murky decade for Disney’s famed animation studios. What with absconding animators, diminishing returns and increasing competition, Walt’s heyday must have seemed a distant memory to the folk at Burbank, California.

It was just as rock bottom loomed that a new era transformed the studio’s fortunes. Fathoms below, deep under the sea, a new, Broadway inspired model of movie making was born. The Little Mermaid was a hit with the critics and audiences alike, spurring a new decade of success into life. Everybody wanted to be part of that world.

Across just 89 minutes, The Little Mermaid transformed the face of Disney animation. Brighter hues, vibrant characters and instantly catchy songs set a mould that Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King would follow assiduously over the five following years. It’s in reverse order, however, that the films have enjoyed ‘live action’ reinvention.

The lateness of Ariel and co. to the remake party is less for want of studio interest than a matter of practicality. Put simply, it was easier to create an entirely photorealistic animated retelling of The Lion King than to film an underwater musical. It is only now, thanks to a monumental production effort and the technological advancements pushed through for James Cameron’s Avatar 2, that a film like this can exist.

Boasting three new songs and a game cast - Melissa McCarthy is a hoot as sea witch Ursula - 2023’s The Little Mermaid offers just about enough magic, wonder and romance to woo fans of the original. Bailey alone hits all three marks.

Almost an hour of extra content aside, the story is much the same as before. Ariel (Bailey) is the youngest daughter of King Triton (Javier Bardem). She’s a mermaid and pitch perfect princess who has everything but the life she craves. Ariel’s true wish is to leave the sea for a life on land as a human but it’s a classic case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ when Ursula offers to make this dream come true.

The Little Mermaid hasn’t the showstopping pizzazz of Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin remake but shares enough of Beauty’s charm to enchant.