Mulan review: It doesn’t miss the music or talking dragon!

Disney's MULAN. Mulan (Yifei Liu). Photo: Film Frame© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Disney's MULAN. Mulan (Yifei Liu). Photo: Film Frame© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Disney’s Mulan live-action reboot is most definitely worth the extra cost

There are many complaints about the way Disney released the Mulan live-action reboot, but let’s look past the extra cost. It’s time to consider the movie itself. Is it worth watching with the family?

If you look online, you’ll likely see mixed opinions. Hey, it’s okay not to like a Disney movie! There are plenty I’m not a fan of. However, one thing you need to do is separate the annoyance and anger aimed at Disney for a release method and the thoughts of the movie itself.

You’ve also got to step out of what you thought about the 1998 animated movie. Sure, as a Western culture, we loved the talking dragon Mushu and the music, but there were many elements of the movie that angered Chinese audiences and for good reason. The live-action reboot is a way to honor the good parts of the original movie and bring us the folklore surrounding this woman.

Mulan is one of the best live-action reboots available. It is an excellent mixture of both animated movie and folklore. In my opinion, it doesn’t even miss the talking dragon.

The focus on the pillars of virtue

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One of the best things about the live-action reboot is the focus on the pillars of virtue. They are mentioned throughout. All Mulan wants to do is bring honor on her family, something that she routinely fails at. That’s because as a woman, she doesn’t get to do what she’s good at and has to bring honor through marriage.

In the movie, Mulan tries to do what is expected of her. She doesn’t argue with her family like in the original movie. As a child, she doesn’t quite understand, but as she gets older, she focuses on being the wife she’s expected to be. It adds another layer to this character we’ve come to love.

Her decision to join the Imperial Army is a foolish one, but one focused on love and honor. All she wants to do is protect her father, knowing that if he heads out to follow the direct order then he’s will die. There’s even a moment with the Imperial Army when the men are called to take the conscription and he’s questioned about whether he has a son old enough to fight for him. There’s a sense of regret; that something like this hasn’t been considered.

The pillars of virtue and devotion to family are things we can all live by. They’re pillars that make up the Chinese culture and are pillars that most even now will follow. This is an honest part of the culture that should not be overlooked and forgotten.

A reminder we’re not all born villains

Disney has done some great work over the years to make villains more three-dimensional. For a long time, we only saw the villain through the hero’s eyes. We never got to understand why a villain would become what they are.

That’s something the live-action reboot offers. We get a sense of why the villain is the way she is. We see what acceptance and what bullying can do to change a path.

A lot of these movies have become predictable, but there is a moment toward the end involving the villain that I didn’t quite see coming. And I appreciated it for what it is and what it means.

With so much focus on this villain and the lessons learned, there was never a need for Mushu. Eddie Murphy’s character brought comedic relief to the 1998 movie. He was there for children to keep the movie lighthearted, but this live-action reboot isn’t lighthearted. It’s an important lesson of honor. Including Mushu would have taken away from a lot of that.

It can still hold the attention of children

I recently saw a comment that the new movie would never hold a small child’s attention. I can tell you that’s a load of baloney. And I write that from experience.

My four-year-old and eight-year-old both watched Mulan without any conversation during it. They even forgot to eat their snacks because they were so engrossed. I have a four-year-old who struggles to sit still for longer than 20 minutes. Finding a movie that she does sit still through is gold dust, but Disney always manages it.

There is plenty of action throughout. The use of the chi helped to add an element the animated movie skipped over. There were questions of when our heroine would be discovered, if she’d get the witch, and if she’d be accepted as one of the Imperial Army soldiers.

These are two children who have even seen the 1998 movie, and they didn’t once complain at the lack of music throughout. That’s probably because it doesn’t need the songs that the animated movie does. While Aladdin kept the music in, live-action reboots can work well with pure scripted fun. Mulan is one of those that captures everything through speech, action, and graphics. The soundtrack in the background is enough.

I always say if a movie is enjoyable for the people it’s arguably made for, then it’s a good movie. Disney movies are made for the whole family. They’re designed to keep children entertained while offering something for adults. This live-action reboot did it all and more.

My only complaint? I didn’t feel too connected to the friends our heroine makes while part of the battalion. There was a lot happening at once. Maybe we can have a sequel to flesh them out more.

Next. Did you spot the Mulan cameo at the end of the movie?. dark

What did you think of Mulan? Are you getting the movie through Premier access or waiting? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Mulan is now available to stream on Disney Plus Premier and is available on Disney Plus free on Dec. 4.