Title – Mulan (2020)
Director – Niki Caro (Whale Rider)
Cast – Yifei Liu, Donnie Yen, Li Gong, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Tzi Ma
Plot – Teenage girl Mulan (Liu) disguises herself as a male and joins the Chinese army when a vicious force of bloodthirsty warriors threaten to overtake her lands.
“My father cannot fight, so I will take his place”
Review by Eddie on 08/09/2020
Originally planned to be one of 2020’s biggest cinematic releases, the old foe we know as Covid-19 put a stop to Mulan’s plans of taking over cinemas around the world, with the high-profile update of the classic Disney animation released now in a premium VOD format to allow fans a chance to finally see their beloved female heroine take flight in a live action world.
Many wondered whether this release would detour from the spectacle and magic of the tale but all this worry was for naught as Niki Caro’s charisma free and lifeless updating of the tale of young warrior Mulan and her undercover journey in the ranks of the army is so devoid of spark that you feel like little, if anything has been lost in its release from the big screen to the lounge-rooms of millions around the world.
Quite clearly the result of significant financial investment and talented craftsmanship, Mulan looks the part of a family friendly fantasy epic but Caro and her behind the scenes creative team have lost any of the heart and soul of the original Disney offering along the way as the film ticks off a series of narrative progressions that are nothing more than markers that can be taken down at various points, as the films delivery and ideas are nothing better than generic at best.
It’s in many ways amazing that the film is so barren when it comes to any moments of memorability, Mulan herself who is played by the unfortunatly hamstrung Yifei Liu is in most scenes but can’t make us care, the film lacks any significantly grandiose or well-staged spectacle despite its budget and the story itself is so by the numbers in its delivery that you will find yourself unwilling to conjure up any type of enthusiasm as you plod your way through the film as a viewer.
Doing away with key elements of the animated film such as the song numbers, everyone’s favorite talking dragon Mushu and the frequent humor that was a key component of the films initial success, this po-faced re-imaging wants badly to tap into the female hero oriented market that has made itself prevalent in recent years but you can’t imagine any child, teenager or adult walking away from Mulan’s journey here feeling inspired in any way shape or form.
It’s hard to pinpoint what went wrong with the film as an outside observer, even the appointment of Caro as the director seemed like a great pick after her form with similar female-oriented features like Whale Rider and North Country proving solid pieces of work, but there’s little to recommend about this bland Disney offering that continues on Disney’s so-so live action catalogue of films that have mostly failed to inspire much long lasting greatness.
Final Say –
An extremely by the numbers offering from Disney with fans of Mulan likely to be left cold by this films lifeless and charmless delivery, this epic film may look that part but it lacks severely in almost every angle imaginable.
2 phoenixes out of 5