Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Misses a Really Unique and Nostalgic Opportunity. A review of the 2020 live-action Disney film. All text © Rissi JC

Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Misses a Really Unique and Nostalgic Opportunity

February 23, 2021 6 Comments

Continuing their movie-making that turns animated favorites and classics into live-action experiences, Disney’s Mulan arrives on our screens. Whether or not it lives up to its expectations is to be determined.

Mulan (2020) Disney Film Review

As a child, Mulan was wild and a little bit reckless. She never acts as she’s meant to, but rather as who she is. This gets her into more than a little trouble with her mother who hopes to see Mulan matched by the matchmaker. Eventually, all grown up, this is what her parent’s tell her. It’s now time for Mulan (Liu Yifei) to do her duty and marry whomever the matchmaker pairs her with. This ends in disaster, and shortly thereafter, the imperial army conscripts one man from each household to join the army in a fight against renegades attempting to do harm to the Emperor.

Believing she has brought same to her family, Mulan takes her father’s armor and papers, and reports as his son. A son her father does not have. In a battle of strength and courage, Mulan trains with these male comrades all while she does battle with her conscious over the honor code of being true.

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Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Misses a Really Unique and Nostalgic Opportunity. A review of the 2020 live-action Disney film. All text © Rissi JC

Seeing this has been a long time coming. Reason being, the release of Mulan (2020) to Disney+ was not the least bit of an incentive for me to pick up another streaming service. I couldn’t justify a monthly service fee on top of an additional rental fee. In the end, it’s a good thing I didn’t waste the time or money on it because, while good, there’s certainly something missing from Mulan (2020).

There’s an epic, shiny perfected production here which is something many of us like, but in that, the film also misses a huge part of what makes Mulan’s story so good. What made the animated film so good, and in some sense daring, isn’t “just” its message of strength, but its themes of friendship and of course, Mushu, too. While his character might not translate to live action, I cannot help but think there could have been some way to hold on this sense of nostalgia.

The film doesn’t skimp on its action sequences, many of which are intricate or “cool” in their forward movement. There’s also a good cast who help to put all of these pieces together, and though rare, the script does allow for a few instances of comedy while Mulan attempts to fit in with the guys. Beyond this, the film breaks from what makes this fictional legend so endearing.

In the end, Disney’s earlier live action efforts are way better. Sure this one has action and a good cast, but that’s about as far as its attributes go for me. I’m not sad to have seen this version, but it misses a mark when it comes to evoking the same kind of feeling of its predecessor.

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you to anyone who makes a purchase through these links. Read the disclosure page for details.)

You can find Mulan (2020) digitally on Amazon Video or Disney+; or on Bookshop.org.

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Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Misses a Really Unique and Nostalgic Opportunity. A review of the 2020 live-action Disney film. All text © Rissi JC
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Content: There’s battle scenes, weaponry and swordfights. One man falls a great distance to his death. Others die from explosions or other injuries. There’s one instance of two people in a lake together, but we don’t see anything inappropriate. The film is PG-13.

Photos: Disney

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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6 Comments

  • Angela February 24, 2021 at 3:06 PM

    I’ve never actually seen the original animated movie! I did like this one, although I haven’t been loving the live-action Disney films as much as the originals!

    • Rissi JC March 1, 2021 at 3:23 PM

      If you ever see the animated “Mulan,” I hope you enjoy it, Angela. It was one of the “new” animated films when I was growing up and we watched it quite a lot! It’s just a good (and funny!) little movie. :)

  • […] FILM REVIEW | Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Misses a Really Unique and Nostalgic Opportunity […]

  • […] FILM REVIEW | Disney’s ‘Mulan’ Misses a Really Unique and Nostalgic Opportunity […]

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