Live-action “Mulan” fails to capture the magic

Following the shutdown of many movie theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, the live action remake of Disney’s “Mulan” was released directly to their streaming service Disney+. While some regret the loss of classic songs, the lovable dragon Mushu, and love interest Li Shang, others are excited for the Asian cast and sweeping cinematic views. So far, reviews are mixed. 

For many, this new version of the movie is a champion of female empowerment. It had a production cost of $200 million, the most expensive movie ever to be directed by a woman, and the classic Mulan story of a young woman going into war to protect her father and her country was still present in its basic form.  

This version of the movie also tries to be more realistic and serious, stripping the 1998 version of its jokes, songs, and sidekicks so it better fits the sweeping war epic format it seems to be trying to create. This also seems to apply to the actors facial features which are stiff and expressionless the whole movie. 

[Mulan] may have an independent spirit but she is given no inner life by the stony-faced lead performance from Yufei Liu, who twirls through the film with one stern expression (possibly two) frozen on her face,” writes movie critic “Jim Schrembi.

While other Disney remakes have managed to keep some of their childish appeal, “Mulan” struggles to try and fit in both categories and succeeds in neither. 

Although the original movie may have been a comedy and a musical, the emotional scenes had all the more impact when seen next to the humorous ones. This was something that was lacking in the remake. Even the scene where the army comes upon a burned village and sees the tragedy of war doesn’t have the same power because the whole movie has the same serious tone. 

That said, it is a beautiful movie. The film was shot in both China and New Zealand and the beautiful scenery proves that it was meant to be watched on the big screen. 

In the end, Disney took an empowering, funny, enjoyable movie with a complete story and changed it to fit the present standard of Hollywood. It may be beautiful, expensive and diverse but these changes do not necessarily make it a better movie. It is hard to watch it and not wish you were watching the original instead. 

This was a movie without personality or emotion and with such an amazing source to draw from, the remake was disappointing. I give the movie 3 out of 5 paws.