Mulan — Movie Review

by KJ Proulx

Yifei Liu in ‘Mulan’ [Credit: Disney+]

Whether you’re talking about the amazing job that Disney did in remaking The Jungle Book in live-action or how they made a very disappointing attempt at bringing Dumbo back to life, there’s no denying that they aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Mulan was their latest to be released earlier this year, but due to many complications, it has now premiered on Disney+. While I can’t say it surpasses the animated original in any way, it’s absolutely one of the better remakes they’ve done. I could see this reaching a wide audience over time, but with this particular release strategy, I can’t see 2020s Mulan making a big enough splash. Here are my thoughts on Mulan as a whole.

Much like the original film, this rendition of Mulan follows the titular hero as she disguises herself as a man in order to join the war in place of her father. Going against traditional family and gender beliefs, she rises to the occasion and bests everyone around her. She’s had training her whole life, so it comes as no surprise at all when she’s able to pull off incredible feats, which I feel is the film's greatest downfall, even though it’s entertaining. The emotional core is very much present, but things do feel like they’re glossed over at times. With that said though, for every minor issue, there was always a positive to balance it all out.

As I said, the greatest downfall is that there’s not a single surprising thing to the character of Mulan this time around. On top of that, the absence of music is very much felt here, because they chose to include narration, explaining certain character’s choices instead. This felt very pointless to me as it felt like it was dumbing everything down for the audience. I truly feel that these choices did hurt the film as a whole. Still, this is a very well-made movie all around.

From the score to the cinematography, this film feels epic in every sense of the word. Sadly, with it being sent to streaming, the big screen experience just won’t be possible for this movie anymore. There are some massive sweeping shots that would’ve benefited from a giant screen, but it is what it is. For this reason, I found myself attached to the more subtle character moments, which ended up giving the movie a layer I may not have latched onto on the big screen. Maybe that’s just me, but I felt the movie’s weaknesses were given an accent with this watch-at-home tactic.

In the end, the 2020 live-action remake of Mulan probably isn’t going to have die-hard fans preferring it over the one the loved in the past, but newcomers may get a nice story to follow along with. Yifei Liu does a great job in the title role and felt like she was paying homage to the animated film while also making it her own. The original story is still present, but different, which was nice, and the epic scope is absolutely felt, making this a great movie to look at. I will say some of the creative choices/changes didn’t quite work for me, but it’s still a very enjoyable movie overall. I’d say give it a watch, especially for families.

Rating: 3.5/5

Check out the trailer below:

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Film Lover First. Critic Second.

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