A Muddled Mulan Remake

Oct 20, 2020 By Ethan, 12
Editor's picture

Sometimes films feel meaningless despite the fact that they are grand, big-budget spectacles created for the sole purpose of dominating the box office.

Such is the case for Mulan, the latest in Disney’s increasingly draining list of bland, soulless live-action remakes.

An adaptation of the 1998 cult classic animated film of the same name, 2020’s Mulan was met with much hype after its initial announcement. However, its popularity diminished considerably following a string of controversies before and after its September 2020 debut.

These issues range from its female star, Liu Yifei’s, highly publicized support for the Hong Kong police, to the movie’s costly price on Disney Plus after theatres were shut down as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Female Warrior Saga

Mulan is a historical fantasy centered around a young teenager living in ancient China who is forced to secretly enlist in the army.

She disguises herself as a male in order to save her elderly father, who has been selected to fight in an impending war against the Huns, despite his frail, ailing health and elderly age.

As she traverses through the barren mountains along with a regiment of soldiers, all of whom are oblivious of her true sexuality, Mulan must face merciless barbarians, combat shapeshifting sorceresses, and worst of all, confront her inner demons in this historical epic. 

New Movie: Pales In Comparison

While the new movie has been marketed as a remake of the original flick, in reality, the 2020 blockbuster has more in common with the recent Star Wars movies.

Just like in Disney’s widely-panned Star Wars sequels, the new movie replaces the original film’s initial charm with grueling action scenes taking place in the stereotypical Chinese countryside, stiff dialogue, and plot holes that effectively contradict the established lore.

Sorely missing from the original are Mushu, the fan-favorite, wisecracking, anthropomorphic dragon, and Li Shang, Mulan’s bulky and dreamy love interest. Perhaps the biggest disappointment are the numerous songs that had come to define the original movie -- from the soulful ballad Reflection (which launched Christina Aguilera’s career), to the delightfully ironic pop anthem, I’ll Make a Man Out of You.

The movie includes a new character called Xianning, a literal witch whose only purpose in the film is to serve as a foil for our protagonist, a gesture that may be appreciated if not for her two-dimensional personality.

Problematic Pacing

The pace of the movie is problematic. The first thirty minutes seem to drag on for hours, saved only by a mildly comedic scene improved drastically by well-utilized situational humor. Once the action gets started though, it seems to never end, much to my delight, with fight scenes upon fight scenes that offer viewers enthralling battles.

Unfortunately, once the film reached its final quarter the pacing from earlier all but disappears without a trace, and once again we are subject to filler conversations that hold little meaning and characters who exist for the sole purpose of furthering the plot -- all of which act as a hindrance and at some points even distract from the otherwise beautifully rendered finale.

Overall, Mulan was an enjoyable romp, but not one that I will frequently revisit. The film featured enjoyable parts, above-average acting, and action delightfully woven into the storylines. However, it lacks a certain refinement and needs polishing, which is why I award it two out of five stars.

Comments

arnithepanda's picture
arnithepanda April 5, 2021 - 4:23pm
I personally agree with you. I was really disappointed with the plot and especially how they did not add the dragon. The only thing I thought was good were the fight scenes, so I will give the movie a 3/5 because it seems more accurate.
Ccrocks's picture
Ccrocks January 26, 2021 - 5:15pm
Oh I've seen this movie and its really good but they took out the dragon ! WHY?
SophieGay's picture
SophieGay February 23, 2021 - 8:48am
Oh my goodness I totally agree about mushu! Then there is no singing!!!! like WHAT
Nathan Lee's picture
Nathan Lee December 23, 2020 - 1:36pm
I agree with you that the new "Mulan" is worse than the cartoon version in many ways. I think that your 2/5 stars wasn't accurate because you wrote that you liked the battle scenes, and that were most of the movie. I would give it 3/5 stars because I also like fighting scenes. Although it was rated poorly because "Mu Shu" is everyone's favorite character wasn't included in the recent "Mulan". I think that your article is super detailed and good. I can see that you worked hard on this and it is excellent. Is there another reason why you didn't like the new Mulan?
aksis29's picture
aksis29 February 5, 2021 - 6:40am
When I was little Mu Shu was my FAVORITE.
smalltiger's picture
smalltiger November 3, 2020 - 6:15pm
I like the cartoon more.
HighLordBigDog13's picture
HighLordBigDog13 January 20, 2021 - 8:15am
You and me both, sister!
emmagoodloe's picture
emmagoodloe November 24, 2020 - 11:03am
Have you seen the new movie? its really good if you havent watch it
aksis29's picture
aksis29 February 5, 2021 - 6:41am
Its worth watching but I personally wouldn't watch it more than once
Ethan Zhang's picture
Ethan Zhang November 8, 2020 - 2:08pm
Yep, as you can see from this article, so do I. Do you think that next time they should make a sequel in animation instead? I personally think so.
Gracie's picture
Gracie January 4, 2021 - 7:02pm
they have made a sequel animation
trenton's picture
trenton November 3, 2020 - 6:03am
I agree with you in this story and it was all good
Ethan Zhang's picture
Ethan Zhang November 8, 2020 - 2:11pm
Thanks for your support, Trenton! What do you mean by "all good" though? Are you talking about my commentating/critique? Or are you talking about the movie?
arnithepanda's picture
arnithepanda April 5, 2021 - 4:18pm
i was confused too
aksis29's picture
aksis29 February 5, 2021 - 6:43am
This Was so Well written the top says you are twelve but a high- schooler couldn't have written that well!!!
30kJai's picture
30kJai October 22, 2020 - 10:38am
In This article they talking about the live action mulan that was recently filmed. It wasnt as interesting as the oringinal Cartoon released in the late 1990´s
Ethan Zhang's picture
Ethan Zhang October 31, 2020 - 2:49pm
Thanks for your comment. I definitely agree with you. Can you tell me what you disliked about this one? What did you find interesting about the original one? What did you feel didn't work about this movie.
aksis29's picture
aksis29 February 5, 2021 - 6:43am
I agree w/ you about the pacing it felt longer than it was for most parts