Spoiler-Free Movie Review of Disney’s Live-Action ‘Mulan‘. Disney’s live-action ‘Mulan‘ has seen set back after set back throughout production and just when it was set to premiere in theaters on March 27th, cinemas around the world were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After months of pushed back premiere dates, Disney made the historical decision to release the live-action remake via Disney+ Premier Access (DPA), an all-new feature introduced to the Disney+ streaming service.
The film has been met with controversy including actors taking public political stances, the decision by the studio to remove the musical numbers and several characters featured in the animated film, as well as the addition of new characters to the film. No one was quite sure what to make of the movie until Disney took the leap and finally released the film to audiences digitally around the world. Here is our spoiler-free movie review of Disney’s live-action Mulan:
First and foremost, we know many of you are wondering, “Is ‘Mulan‘ worth the additional cost for Disney+ Premier Access?” Our thought is this: Yes, Disney’s Mulan was worth every penny of the DPA additional fee. I was very skeptical at first, since I am an audience member who prefers to see a film for the first time in theaters to feel the full impact of the story. I was relieved by the end of the film and felt that despite not being in a theater it was well worth the small investment. We popped popcorn, added extra butter with a little bit of salt, and enjoyed our own drinks and other snacks, all in the comfort of our own home. and didn’t even have to pay for baby-sitter! As a parent, this aspect was a win-win.
That being said, when Disney releases the film in theaters, there is a high chance I will go and see Mulan to get the full effect intended by the filmmakers. I will also say that if you are a Disney+ subscriber and you are waiting for the film to be added for free to the Disney+ library in December 2020 it is completely understandable that you would choose to do so and I respect that decision completely. I am happy to have seen the film so soon, but with it being a remake of a beloved tale, there isn’t much that can be spoiled about the film unless it is regarding a new character. Now to get into the nitty-gritty.
Disney’s Mulan is a retelling of the classic Chinese legend. When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation… and a proud father.
Throughout the film various elements of the animated feature film make appearances, such as similarly structured sequences, character interactions, and the larger than life personalities. The live-action Mulan is missing characters from the animated film, such as the visual aspect of Mulan’s ancestors, Mulan’s grandmother, and the most notable, her spirit guardian Mushu. The film features several new characters including Mulan’s younger sister, new villains and enemies, and the introduction of the Phoenix.
The film is visually stunning and features more accurate depictions of Chinese culture than its animated counterpart. Though there are some more crude humored scenes, the film remains relatively family friendly. I say “relatively” because there is more violence and fighting sequences in the live-action film compared to the animated film, but it is done in a tasteful and “off screen” manner that prevents younger audience members from being too scared of the intense interactions.
I will also share that having now seen Mulan, it makes total sense that the musical numbers were removed from the film. The music would have felt very out of place with the style of storytelling in the new movie and various aspects of the instrumental music were used during paralleled scenes in their stead. It was a tasteful way to honor the animated film, but not take away from the emotional impact of the scenes.
On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), I would rate Mulan as a 7.5 out of 10. I would not watch the film with young children (under 7) if they tend to be uncomfortable with violent scenes and depictions. If you have younger children, you may want to view the film yourself before watching it as a family.
Secondly, I truly believe this is one of the better Disney live-action remakes. Mulan sets itself apart from the animated film rather than attempting to be an unnecessary carbon copy. Enough elements of the story are completely different to truly make this a visually compelling retelling of Mulan’s legend while also respecting and honoring aspects of the 1998 animated film.
We would easily recommend Mulan as your next movie night go-to, and will be happy to watch the film again on Disney+ in the near future. I will also reiterate, I truly believe the film was worth every penny of the Disney+ Premier Access, and will likely use the feature in the future for other anticipated titles.
You can check out the official trailer for Disney’s Mulan in the video posted below:
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Featured Photo Credit: Disney