by Denali Herrick
Disney’s “Mulan,” a long-anticipated, live-action remake of the animated film from 1998, was finally made public on Sept. 4, 2020. Even with the elimination of the original songs and the – somewhat confusing – addition of magic, Mulan is still a movie worth watching. Directed by Niki Caro, the story follows Mulan, a courageous young woman who takes the place of her sick father and enlists in the Imperial Army as a man.
Like in the original, themes of bravery and honor are very prevalent throughout the movie. Mulan is a fearless character, and actress Liu Yifei was able to portray her in such a way that the viewer could feel her inner strength through the screen. Overall, the movie was more mature than the original “Mulan.” The remake was more of a typical action movie, especially because it did not have the original’s musical element or comic relief through the character of Mushu.
The greatest disappointment of this remake was the addition of chi, the magic that Mulan and the villain, Xian Lang, possess. This element was not prevalent enough in the movie to make sense. It was unnecessary and confusing, as well as not adding any interest or detail to the movie.
The music selection was appropriate for the movie’s tone as it elevated scenes without overpowering them. The score was beautiful and elegant for dialogue and landscape scenes but intense and empowering for fight scenes. Though the remake was not a musical, it included songs from the original movie, providing a reminiscent touch and giving scenes more life. One of the strongest aspects of this movie is the beautiful and dramatic landscapes. The setting helped to enhance the message and made the movie more interesting to watch.
Although the movie was entertaining on the whole, it moved slowly in some scenes, especially towards the end. The beginning did not grab the viewer’s attention; however, the pace picked up when Mulan had to find a husband in the iconic matchmaking scene. The movie felt long, and condensing the scenes would have made the movie more enjoyable.
Some controversy did surround this film. In Hong Kong, protests for democracy have flared up due to a bill allowing criminals to be taken to mainland China for trial. Since then, the Hong Kong Police have been accused of using violent force to stop the protests. Yifei shared a social media post last fall in support of the Hong Kong Police, which caused her to face hate and reprisal. In response, the hashtag #boycottMulan was created to show support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. An additional area of controversy emerged after the film was released. In the credits, Disney thanks several Xinjaing government organizations that have records of holding and abusing Muslims in confinement camps, which has prompted more people to boycott the film.
Like many of Disney’s other live-action remakes, “Mulan” is not as good as the original. Nevertheless, it is a well-filmed and entertaining movie. The beautiful landscapes and energetic fight scenes make up for the unnecessary inclusion of the chi magic, as well as the movie’s slow-paced beginning and end. 7/10 Pinecones.