By Dayanara Gutierrez ’22
“Mulan” is a movie with underdeveloped characters, an underwhelming plot, and superb cinematography.
“Mulan” is the live-action remake of the original animated Disney movie released in 1998. It takes on the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who disguises herself as a man in order to serve in the imperial army and fight against northern invaders. Hua Mulan makes such decision in order to keep her debilitated father from fighting.
The movie “Mulan” consists of characters that are quite underdeveloped. The movie producers decided to add and remove certain characters, and I felt this was unnecessary. For starters, they decided to remove the character of the grandmother, and instead replaced her with Hua Mulan’s sister. In the original 1998 film, the grandmother provided comic relief, and I personally feel like the live-action movie would have been better with her in it. Her “replacement,” Hua Mulan’s sister, was clearly underdeveloped and an unnecessary addition because it seemed as if the only personality trait she had was being afraid of spiders.
Moreover, in the live-action movie, Mulan’s friends in the live-action movie felt like watered-down versions of Yao, Ling, and Chien Po, from the original film. I wasn’t really able to see character development for a single character, and many characters appeared to be more static than dynamic.
As for Hua Mulan, I expected a lot more from her character. One of the most important points from the original film is that Hua Mulan was able to embrace femininity, while also embracing her warrior side; however, in the live-action film, all I really ever saw was her warrior side. I wish that her character would have also been a lot more emotive because that would’ve made her character less dull.
As for the movie plot, it was quite underwhelming. While there were many aspects that were similar to those from the original film, there were some scenes that were missing, and I think they would have made the movie more entertaining. One example would be the scene towards the end of the original film, in which the emperor, the warriors, and the people of China all bow down to Hua Mulan. I think removing this scene took away a lot from the “main idea” of the movie, which was the idea of fighting against sexism and gender roles.
Similarly, another scene I wish they wouldn’t have changed as much is the scene in which the warriors were training to fight. This scene was a lot shorter than I hoped, and it was also a lot less entertaining for me to watch because it felt too different from the original one.
Moreover, it felt like the movie primarily consisted of action, and yet the action somehow still felt sort of rushed. I was constantly spacing out throughout the movie, and there were also times when I was lost because there was so much going on. This definitely didn’t meet my expectations.
On a completely different note, the cinematography of this movie was incredibly superb and gorgeous. The movie was filmed in various locations in both China and New Zealand, and I really appreciated the fact that the scenery was very vibrant and quite breathtaking. In addition, the scenes were filmed from numerous angles and there were a few slo-mo scenes that made things more interesting. One of my favorite scenes from the movie was one in which Hua Mulan was going back home with her horse because the scenery was beautiful and it was visually appealing.
Another thing I loved was the clothing that the characters wore because it was very bold and colorful, and I think it was a good form of cultural representation. This movie had an incredibly high budget, and I think they made good use of it in terms of the cinematography.
While a review written by James Berardinelli on Rotten Tomatoes says “Mulan” is “A compelling and engaging adventure that represents not only an effective retelling of the 1998 film but arguably the best of the studio’s animated-to-live action reconstructions,” I beg to differ. Although I didn’t necessarily hate this movie, I didn’t love it either. I felt that it was lacking in many ways, one of them is in terms of the soundtrack. In the original 1998 film, the soundtrack gave the movie more life, and I would have loved to at least hear “Reflection” in this live-action adaptation; however, that did not happen. I don’t think this movie was worth the money for premier access. I would have just waited to see it on Dec. 4.
- Available on Disney+
- Release date: Sep. 4 with premier access, or Dec. 4 without premier access.