Mulan: Live-Action Remake – Disney+ Talk
The Disney business plan of remaking their classic animated films continue with ‘Mulan’. Last week, I reviewed the original animated classic and, while it has some issues, I enjoyed it.
Despite not liking a lot of the live-action remakes, ‘Mulan’ was one that I was excited for, especially since Disney were aiming to tell the original story, instead of doing a direct remake of the 1998 classic. And, after seeing ‘Mulan’, I can express my opinions.
‘Mulan’, once again, tells the story of the titular character who takes her father’s place in the Imperial Army, disguising herself as a male soldier and ultimately becoming a heroine.
The live-action remake of ‘Mulan’ was, ultimately, fine. The film could be split into two parts, in terms of quality: the first 30 minutes, and the last 90 minutes. The first 30 minutes of the film explores Mulan’s childhood up until she runs away from home to join the army. This first act was filled with blatant exposition dialogue, wooden acting and uneven pacing. However, once Mulan joins the Imperial Army, the film feels like it was directed by a different person, as the pacing, acting and action is tighter and more evenly paced. The last 90 minutes were definitely more exciting and enjoyable.
The main cast all do a good job as the characters that they play. Yifei Liu, who plays the titular character, fits comfortably into the role and carries the film well. Her interaction with the rest of the main cast also works as she grows into a confident woman. The general look of the film, i.e.: locations and costumes, are gorgeous and are my favourite aspect of the film. It’s mostly a colourful and vibrant film, until the Army goes to war, where bright colours are swapped with the murky greys and browns, symbolising the grisly nature of war.
There are a few references to the original animated film. For example, some lyrics from ‘A Girl Worth Fighting For’ is used as dialogue from one soldier, as he explains his perfect woman (‘I don’t care what she looks like/I just care what she cooks like’), and the score uses the song ‘Reflection’ when Mulan succeeds in training. None of these references felt forced and it was a joy to hear them being used naturally in the film.
However, this film does have its problems too. When Disney first announced this remake, they said that Mushu the Dragon would not appear in the film, a decision that I agreed with. However, it’s been replaced by a Phoenix who supposedly watches over, and protects, Mulan. I say supposedly because it only appears once in the film, making it a pointless character. I understand the symbolism of the character being a protective guardian but, if that’s the case, then its appearances should be more regular. The main enemy has also been replaced. Instead of the war being against The Huns, it’s against the Rorian Army and a Witch. This was a huge disappointment to see as, like previously mentioned, Disney were supposedly aiming to tell the original story of Mulan. However, this is not necessarily the case and that is a shame to see.
Another issue was the cinematography. For the most part, it’s fantastic and cinematic, making each scene stand out. However, the film does have a lot of slow-motion shots, which don’t work and make the pacing uneven. They will also appear at random moments usually without reason. If these were taken out, they would make no difference to the film whatsoever. As well as this, some shots during the opening battle scenes are strange. The camera will, at times, follow the perspective of the one being attacked, meaning the shot will flip round, appear upside down or sideways. It’s an interesting technique, but it isn’t consistent, making those scenes a horrible experience. If you want to see a film that does this camera technique perfectly, I recommend seeing 2018’s ‘Upgrade’.
Overall, ‘Mulan’ is fine. The last 90 minutes is better than the first 30 minutes, however it could’ve done with another edit and script rewrite. If you’ve never seen the original animated film, you’d probably enjoy this more than someone who has seen the original. While it’s not a bad film, Disney should’ve stuck to their word and done a telling of the original story, which this was not.
Mulan: Live-Action Remake – Disney+ Talk
We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our social channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.