Mulan landed on Disney+ this weekend, so I sucked it up and paid the steep price for it. But just like Disney’s other remakes, it fell a little flat for me.
Director: Niki Caro
Screenwriter: Rick Jaffa (screenplay by), Amanda Silver
Starring: Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong
Genre: Action, Adventure
Runtime: 115 Minutes
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by: Pearl
To save her ailing father from having to go and fight in war, a young woman disguises herself as a man and joins the imperial army. Keeping her identity secret from her commanders and fellow soldiers she trains among them and becomes a values member of the battalion, until her deception is discovered, upon which she is expelled from the army. When an attack is made on the emperors life, it is Mulan who, after relaying the information to her commanders, leads a small group of men to the imperial city to defend the kingdom.
I have to admit, that I have not been the biggest fan of any of Disney’s live action remakes. Lily James’ Cinderella was probably my favourite. The others I have all found to just be rather…meh. So I was cautiously optimistic that this new version of Mulan could change my mind about all these reboots Disney has in the works. But I am still finding that these live action remakes do not quite match up to their animated counterparts. Some things should just be left alone.
The film was beautifully shot, with some truly breath-taking scenes. What slightly ruined the magic for me was the fact that sometimes, it was very obvious that the surroundings were done using CGI, and by this point in time, there is sufficiently advanced technology that this should not have been so noticeable. It mostly only happens in the closer up shots, but it is definitely there. The action sequences where amazing, and were really the only part of the film I wish I had got to see on the big screen. The martial arts combined with the slow motion and amazing stunt work was just beautiful
The acting all around was great and Yifei Liu was great as our leading lady. She was strong and capable, and delivered the someone clunky and cliché laden script well. But besides her, none of the other characters really had enough of a story to really make an impact one way or another. Even the band of warriors she spends all of her time with in the training camp, we barely get to know any of them, and while it is great that none of them just became the perfunctory love interest, none of them were really given anything to do, so their presence had no impact on me at all.
I liked that they gave the story a slight supernatural edge, but it did seem to serve the purpose of explaining/providing an excuse as to why Mulan was so much better than her male counterparts. Could she not have been better than them based on her skills alone? No? We have to give her a supernatural leg up. Very lazy for a films that was trying to promote it’s strong female lead. And the witch who was a constant threat of course got the ultimate Disney treatment by the end of this film and that seemed like a total cop-out. The only person who could really be a challenge to Mulan’s power, and she has a last minute change of heart.
So another very average offering. Come on Disney, you are better than this. I think I am just going to hold my hands up and say that the Live Action Remakes aren’t for me.
If you want to check out Mulan for yourself you can get premier access on Disney+ for £19.99 or wait until it is available to stream for free at the beginning of December (recommended).