This Friday sees the Disney+ premiere of ‘Mulan’, the live-action remake of the 1998 original classic. Before watching the remake, I decided to rewatch the original, as this was a film I hadn’t seen since I was a child.
‘Mulan’ tells the story of a young woman living in China during the war with the Huns. After her elderly father is ordered to join the war, Mulan decides to take his place, ultimately becoming a heroine.
‘Mulan’ shines through the most with its animation and songs. ‘Reflection’ and ‘Make a Man out of You’ are definite highlights that showcases its character development through visuals rather than dialogue. However, ‘Make A Man out of You’ and ‘Girl Worth Fighting For’ are the best sequences in the film, for opposite reasons. It’s satisfying to watch the lead characters go through army training and go from an average civilian to strong and focused warriors. The latter sequence, however, does something that is rare in a Disney film: interrupts a typically joyful Disney song with the harshness of war. The sudden end to the song, as the soldiers enter a village ruined by the Huns, is not only the first time they see the destruction with their own eyes, but it also shows that war is bleak and horrific, and doesn’t soften any imagery in this scene. From then on, no other songs are sung. It’s a subtle detail that I greatly admire.
This was one of the last hand-drawn animated films Disney made before shutting down their Ink And Printing Department, and it shows in a few scenes. The animation is mixed with CGI animation, mainly with statues. While they should be an eyesore, in this case, it works to make a visually interesting piece of film.
The main issue I had with ‘Mulan’ was with the character Mushu. Voiced by Eddie Murphy, this red miniature dragon was accidently sent to help Mulan on her way to greatness. He was my favourite character as a child, but he sticks out awfully now. While he is a charming character, his comedic timing, with the serious subject matters that the film tackles, sometimes clash uncomfortably. This film would’ve worked just as strongly if he wasn’t in it. People complained when Disney announced Mushu wouldn’t make an appearance in the live-action remake, but I can see why and am thankful for it.
Overall, though, ‘Mulan’ is still worth watching if you have Disney+. It does have some issues, particularly with tonal clashes, but is still an enjoyable watch. The live action remake aims to show more of the original story of Mulan so I’m looking forward to it. Check back next week to see my thoughts on that one!
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