Greetings! Film studios are finally starting to release new movies and the live action remake of Mulan is definitely memorable. How does it stack up to the animated version? Is it worth a premium price of $29.99 on Disney+? I’ll break it down for you with the positive and negative elements.
Let’s start with a plot synopsis. The story takes place in Imperial China during a war with the Mongolians. Each household must contribute one man in the Imperial army. Mulan’s elderly and injured father is the last remaining man in their family, so he joins even though it will guarantee his death. During the night, Mulan disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place. She goes through a rigorous boot camp and ultimately becomes a mighty warrior. Mulan won’t be able to keep her secret forever and the consequences might be very grave. Hopefully, the army will save China and everyone will achieve a happy ending.
In general, I really enjoy this movie. It has a big emphasis on storytelling with very sincere and thought provoking themes. Some of the messages could appear preachy to certain individuals, but we live in a divided world and these cultural themes are important. This version of Mulan follows the animated film’s basic outline, but it adds many new elements and significant changes to the plot. I can definitely see many influences from Chinese cinema and it brings a refreshing element to the Disney formula. This film is surprisingly mature and I think adult viewers will really enjoy the experience.
Mulan is the first entry in the Disney remake series to achieve a PG-13 rating. As a result, the action scenes are incredibly cool. The battle scenes have a grand scale kind of like the 300, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, and other wartime epics. Fear not. The best action scenes from the animated movie are in this one too. Mulan also has really interesting wire work that’s similar to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and other films. It’s a really good combination of Western and Asian elements. Plenty of action wasn’t spoiled in the trailers.
This movie is also quite sunning on a visual level. The film was shot in multiple beautiful locations, the costume design is lovely, the production design has a lot of detail, and the CGI is pretty good. It’s a very beautiful movie. I’m a little sad because this film deserved a debut on the big screen, but these digital releases are necessary due to the pandemic. Honestly, I want to see more blockbuster releases on PVOD and streaming services this year. I’m looking at you, Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984!
Here are my biggest complaints. The remake definitely needed the musical numbers. It might seem weird to have musical numbers in a war film, but it worked for Les Miserables and South Pacific. This movie can be slow at times and musical numbers would have been beneficial for the pacing. The film would have been longer and felt shorter. It didn’t ruin the movie for me, but I noticed a big difference.
Finally, this film is surprisingly inaccessible for kids. I’ll bet a lot of parents were expecting to entertain their kids on the Labor Day weekend with the new Mulan film. They’re going to be disappointed. The remake is considerably slower, darker, grittier, longer, serious, and violent compared to the animated one. Basically, kids are just going to think it’s long and boring. Mulan is a fairy tale for adults and I appreciate that idea, but it’s an unusual choice by Disney.
In the end, this movie will be very divisive among viewers for multiple reasons. I recommend this film for most people, especially because new content is so rare at the moment. However, it’s not appropriate for younger viewers. Just keep that in mind. $29.99 was a worthy price for someone like me who really enjoys the action genre and the animated version of Mulan. Both movies are a nice contrast. I also believe it’s a good choice for people who enjoy Chinese films. They have a distinct style of cinema. But I wouldn’t recommend an early unlock for families and people who don’t care about the IP. Mulan is going to be available on Disney+ in December for no additional charge outside of your subscription. So, you can look forward to it during the holiday season. This movie changes a ton of material from the animated film and it will rub some people the wrong way. Let’s face it. You don’t like it when Disney remakes are too similar. Also, you don’t like it when they’re different either. So picky!
That’s all for now. I’m planning to review both Antebellum and Enola Holmes later this month. Eventually, I’ll review The New Mutants when it’s available on Blu-Ray. What else is going to change during 2020? I don’t know, but anything could happen. Remember the motto from Mulan. Be loyal, brave, and true because it will help us get through this pandemic a lot easier. Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of your weekend!
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