Review: Mulan


Theatrical Movie Poster, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

On Friday, September 4, the highly anticipated live-action adaptation of Disney’s “Mulan” was released on the franchise’s relatively new streaming platform, Disney+. Unlike any before, the film was made accessible only to subscription members holding Premium Access for a one-time fee of $30.

While “Mulan” may have revolutionized the film industry’s distribution of cinema, it certainly did not break any boundaries with its content.

Visually, the movie was absolutely stunning. There were moments where I caught myself with my mouth hanging wide open in awe of how beautiful the picture was. In this sense, it was everything a Disney movie should be; colorful, with gorgeous landscapes, and glamorous costumes. But beyond all of this was a hollow shell of a movie lacking in both plot and character development.

Unlike its infamous animated counterpart, this Mulan (Liu Yifei) is not like the other girls. Not because she is selfless, brave, or clever, but rather because she has a deep connection with her qi (“chi”) — which is something like “the Force” from Star Wars. Several scenes were set up to be beautiful developing moments for the protagonist, but these almost always fell flat. It wasn’t until she had fully tapped into her qi that she was finally able to become the heroine we love.

The absence of key characters like General Li Shang and Mushu did not bother me as much as I thought it would, but the awkward moments between Mulan and her new love interest, Chen Honghui (Yason An), certainly did. Not only did they feel forced, like nearly all of the relationships in this film, but writers also granted audiences no closure in their advancement. 

Arguably, the most well-developed character in the entirety of the film is quite possibly their most controversial; Xian Lang (Gong Li), the warrior witch. Despite nearly two hours of screen time, she seemed to be the only person with a clear motivation; to be accepted. This made it transparent as to why she felt such a strong connection with Mulan who, if continuing down her path, would ultimately be exiled for her gifts like Lang. That being said, the thing that confounded me most was the fact that the writers felt the need to kill off the only remotely interesting character. 

But I digress.

It is inarguable that “Mulan” has completely transformed the entertainment industry by cutting out the middleman; cinemas. With the film being released exclusively through Disney+ in a number of countries, the corporation can compare their revenue to that of a traditional box office release and ultimately decide if they will continue down this revolutionary path.

I feel as though this film simply did not measure up.

The production’s $200 million budget was put to good use distracting audiences from the lack of depth in the writing itself. Disney’s 1994 adaptation of this classic tale did not need a flashy and overblown remake. Feel free to check “Mulan” out for yourself and formulate your own opinions, but quite frankly, what society needs an inspiring heroine, not another cliche superhero movie.


If there are issues with this article, report it here.