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For the most part, I am not the biggest fan of Disney's live action remakes of their previously animated classics. Aside from 2015's Cinderella, I find them all to be uninspired cash grabs preying upon people's desire for nostalgia. Generally, they plagiarize their animated versions by trying to recreate the exact same results just with live action, instead of actually embracing the fact that the medium of a live action story can accomplish things in a different way than an animated story can. I've always felt that some of their stories in particular could lend themselves to a live action retelling better than others, and to me Mulan seemed to be the perfect candidate for such a retelling. Mulan's story has so much potential, so long as filmmakers really highlighted the action and focused less on what made the animated version work. I found myself in the minority when I heard people were disappointed about the filmmakers decision to drop the songs and Mushu. While great in the animated version, I really wanted to see if this iteration could do something different, stand on its own feet and be great on its own.

As a young child, Mulan discovers a mystical power within herself called chi. Usually such a power belongs to males as it makes them cunning warriors, and Mulan is told to hide her power. Years later when her father is drafted into war, Mulan disguises herself as a man and sneaks into the army to take her fathers place and become a warrior.

While far from being anything great, I appreciate that this movie mostly tried to do its own thing. There were nods here and there to the cartoon, and many scenes that echoed what came before, but things feel just different enough to feel fresh. Like I had hoped, the action is very prevalent with the movie attempting a Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon lite version. The big complaint here though from most is changing Mulan from a young woman who works hard and through perseverance becomes a mighty warrior to a woman who was basically just naturally gifted with fighting superpowers. Here the lesson becomes more akin to Elsa in Frozen and just embracing your inner power and gifts instead of hiding them, but it's unfortunate to lose her previous arc which was certainly much more relatable and a better lesson. Does it ruin the whole movie for me? No... it just turns it more into a superhero movie than I would have liked.

So perhaps I set the bar really low since I wasn't a fan of any of the other live action remakes and I was just happy this one did something different, but Mulan is one of the better one (if only for that lush cinematography & solid production design.) But then again, considering the rest of the remakes that's really not saying very much.

RATING: 6.5/10


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