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Mulan
Academy Award® Nominee
A live-action feature film based on Disney's "Mulan," where a young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a warrior in order to save her father.

Starring Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee...  View more >

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Please Note: Reader Reviews are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions regarding this movie, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

Jan 19, 2021
This movie carries quite a bit of baggage with it, which makes success with viewers challenging. It succeeds in some aspects, while not succeeding in others.

The first piece of baggage is the lukewarm reception that Disney received from some with its live-action/CGI remake of The Lion King in 2019. How was yet another live-action remake of a Disney classic going to succeed? Will it rise above its most recent sibling and claim the top of its class?

We can't judge its success on box office returns, since there aren't any. Disney decided to release the movie exclusively on its Disney+ streaming service as a $30 premium rental instead of in theaters, because most theaters were still closed in September 2020, and they didn't want to wait. (It removed the extra rental price for Disney+ subscribers in December.)

As a live-action re-telling of the animated Mulan from 1998, the movie is actually much better than expected. Rather than a scene-for-scene remake, it takes the general themes and tells a new story with them. Gone is the dragon sidekick. No one sings. Most of the comedy is also gone, but that's OK. There are some cues in the music that recall the music from the original, which was appreciated. A cameo near the end was a nice tie-in, as well.

However, since it was never released in theaters, one can't help but regard it as a lesser movie. It's a very good "made for Netflix" movie, but just a good theatrical movie. If the original animated classic didn't exist, this would be a better movie because there isn't the original for comparison.

Visually, it's incredible. I have no idea how much was on location and how much was created in a computer, but my guess the outdoor scenes are probably based in reality, while the city scenes are mostly CGI.

An additional part of the baggage surrounding the movie is the reports that Disney filmed in the same province where China has forced millions of Uighur Muslims into internment camps. More controversy can be found by interested parties, so I won't detail them here. That's unfortunate, because there must have been ways to avoid those issues. It's the kind of thing that will keep people from seeing the movie and/or holding in high regard, as with the original animated movie.

For many reasons, this movie does not leave the viewer with the same feelings that Disney's original animated classics do, and it is probably more in line with the other live-action remakes (albeit at/near the bottom of that class).

Mulan is worth seeing, but not worth buying. That's a shame, but I guess it could have been worse, considering the baggage it was carrying.

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