However, the film has drawn the ire of internet trolls on platforms like Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes, and IMDB because of the casting of Black actress Halle Bailey as the traditionally White protagonist of the film, Ariel.
From critics, Bailey has garnered widespread acclaim for her "star-making performance" in the Disney remake, which is why the glut of negative 1-star audience reviews online has caused platform holders to reevaluate their review processes.
IMDB Issues Review Bombing Warning
Online movie database and review site IMDB has issued a warning to review bombers after online trolls bombarded the recently released The Little Mermaid remake with 1-star reviews.
IMDB's audience review section for The Little Mermaid now comes with a disclaimer reading, "Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity" and efforts are being taken to "preserve the reliability of our rating system:"
"Unusual activity: Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied."
According to a report from Deadline, the warning can be viewed on the US, Canada, UK, Brazil, and Mexico versions of the site, with IMDB remarking that it "accept and consider all votes received by users," but "not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating:"
“Although we accept and consider all votes received by users, not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating. When unusual voting activity is detected, an alternate weighting calculation may be applied in order to preserve the reliability of our system,” the website explains. However, it does not disclose the exact method used to generate the rating."
Little Mermaid is currently sitting at a 7/10 on IMDB, with over 15 thousand of its 38 thousand audience ratings being 1-star. It appears that some have tried to counteract these attempts with 10-star ratings, of which The Little Mermaid now has 6.8 thousand.
The film also has a 65% critic score and 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Little Mermaid isn't the only Disney live-action released year that was met with online pushback. Peter Pan & Wendy received mass amounts of review bombing, largely due to its casting of people of color in the roles of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, both of which are traditionally White roles in the original tale.
The response to the live-action return to Neverland even prompted action from Rotten Tomatoes in a similar vein to how IMDb acted towards The Little Mermaid's review bombing, except Peter Pan & Wendy had its user review score removed altogether.
The Fight Against Review Bombers
This move by IMDB is just the latest in what has been an ongoing battle with these public review forums and internet trolls looking to review bomb projects for nefarious reasons.
The practice of review bombing has only gained popularity in recent years, as a contingent of moviegoers attack anything that they deem controversial (ie women-led projects, the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters, or people of color taking a leading role).
As platforms like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes are open to anyone, it has become increasingly hard to monitor what is a sincere review or what is a negative review simply pushing a personal agenda.
Popular review aggregator Metacritic recently took a stand against the practice of review bombing, announcing it would be "evolving [its] processes and tools to introduce stricter [review] moderation," after the recently released Burning Shores expansion for PlayStation 5 game Horizon: Forbidden West was the subject of trolling on the platform because of a lesbian kiss.
While it remains to be seen what this change in Metacritic's review policy will do, other sites like IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes would be smart to follow suit and invest further in efforts to curb review bombing.
Because if nothing changes, the abundance of these online trolls could further dilute the authority that these sites have amongst fans looking for a genuine verdict on something.
The Little Mermaid is playing in theaters worldwide now.