Mulan 2020, Hit or Miss?


Mulan is a live-action reboot of the original animated Disney film. Unfortunately, it has tainted the beloved film for eternity. The reboot was released on September 4th of this year. The plot revolves around the main character, Hua Mulan, going to war against the nomadic people led by Bori Khan, the main antagonist. The movie had tough shoes to fill as its animated counterpart was loved by many. The changes that were announced prior to the movie’s release caused many Mulan and Disney fans, in general, to cast their judgments of it early on. Not to mention Disney’s track record of having bad live-action remakes. However, they were quickly taken back with the promise of it being culturally accurate to the original tale, though this promise wasn’t fulfilled.

One of the most upsetting aspects throughout the film is cultural inaccuracy. Some of the inaccuracies are fixable with a quick google search. The mixture of eurocentric concepts with a traditional Chinese origin is jarring if you’re aware of them. Especially in the first act as it consistently flaunts these inaccuracies to the audience to the point where it becomes slightly aggravating. An example of this being the fact that Chinese folklore doesn’t have witches, which invalidates Xianniang’s entire existence (as she’s the only witch in the film). Not to mention the way the Xianniang is treated falls under the Western view of witches being ostracized whilst in China women who can do magic are respected. Another example chi in Chinese culture isn’t something that only a specific gender could wield as it’s quite literally referred to as “life energy” and flows through everyone. Instead of simply calling what Mulan had chi, they could have said that she was cultivating chi to gain supernatural abilities, as that’s something that can happen in Chinese folklore.

Many of the scenes throughout the film carried little to no emotional weight, ultimately taking away from the viewing experience as a whole. For example, the scene where Mulan and her fellow soldiers see the wreckage of the battle with Bori Khan and his men. It is a scene that’s supposed to be shocking and heartbreaking to the viewer but instead is very neutral and forgettable. Many scenes that are supposed to be filled with emotion have the same result and take away from the overall engagement and experience of watching the film. This can resonate with the viewer much longer after watching the movie. Being emotionally engaging is very important as it would have actually left the viewer with some strong feeling after watching the movie. This feeling would make them want to talk about it positively to others.

The fighting and action sequences of the film are less than ideal. The usage of multiple angled shots heavily takes away from them and makes the actors look as if they’re simply just twirling around on the screen. There were also unnecessary close-ups taking away the possible emotional or at least visual captivation the scene could have had.
However, there are two fighting scenes that stand out amongst the rest. When Mulan and her fellow soldier, Shen Honghu, are sparring it is very visually and emotionally intriguing. The humor used at the start of the scene adds to it as it engages the audience and helps build-up to the tense feeling of the aftermath of it. It also really draws the audience in after the emotionless scene before it. The only other battle sequence that was slightly engaging was when Mulan fought the witch Xianniang. The only reason for it being because it’s two characters who somewhat mirror each other meeting for the first time. Not to mention, it doesn’t have the constant shifting of angles that make it hard on the eyes. The actors also did very well at conveying the tense feeling that the battle should have. Another constant positive throughout the entire film is its humor. While there were few humorous scenes in the film, the ones that were were slightly entertaining and gave the movie and scene a slight feeling of happiness and joy. The most notable scene is when the men Mulan befriends at camp are talking about the women they were matched with. While the scene is brief, it’s lighthearted enough to give anyone at least a small inner smile. While nearly all of the scenes throughout the film are emotionless, there are some scenes, such as the one where Mulan talks to her father before running off to camp that is very emotional. These few scenes alone boost the feeling of the movie as the emotional weight they carry. Lastly, visuals and scenery were something the film handled very well. Every setting is captivating in one way or another and adds a lot to the movie. In a way, the stunning background visuals can distract the audience from many of the bland and emotionless scenes.

In conclusion, while the film had a lot of potentials to give the people something amazing, it ultimately fell short. It lacks the emotional captivation that movies are supposed to have and the filmmakers didn’t live up to their promise. The good qualities the film had were very few, short-lived, and were occasionally executed poorly. It’s not a movie that would be worth seeing more than once and at best it’s a 3.2/10.