The Past and Present of Mulan: Movie Review

The Past and Present of Mulan: Movie Review

My sisters and I used to sing in the car along to many different Disney backing tracks. I remember my older sister singing the main parts while I sang the backing oohs and aahs that she told me to sing.

But there was one song where I shined: Mulan’s signature song “Reflection.”

The animated movie of Mulan really speaks to me because of the strong female lead character  who finds her true self by the end of the movie.

Naturally, I was thrilled to watch the live action remake of Mulan. I talked about it with many friends and was very disappointed to hear that the movie would be delayed due to Covid19.

Months went by, and my hype for the movie was almost gone, until I saw the trailer and release date on Instagram.

My heart soared. 

The movie premiere on Disney+ was a great night at my family’s house. We baked handmade pizzas and cupcakes. When it came time to press play the room was buzzing with excitement.

In many ways the movie was all I wanted and more, but in some areas it disappointed:

First off,the Disney+ Mulan is not a musical. In some ways this really works out for the movie, but I missed the songs that I listened to as a kid. I was disappointed by the lack of musical songs in the remake but as Cosmopolitan magazine says in a recent article, “Fear not: The soundtrack has instrumental versions of the classic songs.” Hearing the instrumental of “Reflection” was a great way to tie back to the original animated movie.

The live action Mulan followed Mulan’s journey to becoming a hero. Her act of heroineism— saving all of China— clearly qualifies her as an official Disney princess.

The live action Mulan had way more battles and was more violent than the Mulan I remember from my childhood.  I found the battles and fighting scenes epic; they were also stunning to watch.

Another thing that stuck out to me was that in 2020’s Mulan, the character of Mushu is absent. I loved Mushu, the tiny dragon sidekick that made his appearance in the original animated film. Animals do play a part in the film, but the comedy side of Mushu was taken out to provide a more serious storyline.

In the original film Mulan is found out to be a girl because she gets hurt with an arrow and needs medical attention. In the recent remake of the film Mulan reveals her own identity to her fellow soldiers. Mulan ends up leading the army to take down the villains. This added story plotline gives Mulan a power that she didn’t have in the original movie. Hopefully this new plot change will empower this generation’s girls to have their own female power.

As for the romance of the film, Mulan’s love interest from the original animated film, Li Shang, was revamped. Mulan’s fellow soldier, Honghui, becomes Mulan’s new love interest while the former Li Shang becomes like a father figure to her. Li Shang’s character’s role was changed in the remake so that there would be no uncomfortable power dynamic between Mulan and him. Note that the film was made during the Me Too movement.  To read more about the Me too movement and the decision to change Li Shang’s character click here.

Although the 2020 version of  Mulan is very different from the original animated film, it is still one of my favorite movies that I have watched this year.

Backlash from viewers and controversy:

The movie received much backlash from viewers, the New York Times says “Disney’s live-action remake of “Mulan” has drawn a fresh wave of criticism for being filmed partly in Xinjiang, the region in China where Uighur Muslims have been detained in mass internment camps.”

To read more about this topic from the Times click here. Also, many viewers called for a boycott of this movie and to not pay the extra $20 to stream the movie. Many fans of the original movie were disappointed that there was an extra fee to see the movie on top of paying for the Disney+ subscription.

Leave a comment below answering one of the following:

Which Disney movie would you like to be revamped next?

Which Mulan was your favorite?

Did you have anything that you liked or disliked about the movie not covered in this article?

What animated Movie/ TV show from your childhood would you like to see in live action next?