Mulan is a Disney+ Original film that is a live action adaptation of the animated movie of the same name. It borrows some of the core concepts, while really going off and doing its own thing. It drops the musical elements, and some of the more whimsical features. It’s definitely got some super natural aspects to it, but is more of a grounded experience overall.
This follows Mulan (Yifei Liu), a young woman dealing with certain issues surrounding expected duties and her desire to be something more. She somewhat gets her chance by answering the dynasty’s call and taking her father’s place in the growing army. This is the core of the story, her pretending to be a male and working her way up to become a legendary warrior.
It deals with certain standards and mostly captures the style of the original. You get a sense of progression as she begins training, and believing in herself. There are more individuals around her, but they’re largely sidelined. It would have been nice to see the side characters have more development, as they were largely forgettable.
They do have some interesting foes in this one, but I would have liked to understand better why they were creating this conflict. It really pushes the idea of the dynasty, while not necessarily giving enough context as to why there was an opposing uprising. It definitely told an interesting tale, while not really being anything different from the original. It hits the same story beats, but could have expanded upon those further.
The real highlights of this film were the action scenes. It’s beautifully choreographed and looks slick. This was particularly true during the intense Mulan focused scenes where she channels a mystical sense of power. It’s neat seeing the training and growth in the characters.
Especially when that training starts to pay off and she really gets out there. A sudden shift I suppose when she does begin battling, but one that makes sense and was clearly laid out through a selection of smaller moments. There was also a lovely use of color, and scope within the cinematography. I was impressed by the visual experience, it was quite pleasing.
This was well paced, and went by fairly quickly. The performances were excellent, and I felt that Liu really nailed Mulan. She brought the emotion, heroism and grace that was expected with this type of role. I did find some of the latter combative moments to look a tad off visually, with the CGI being a bit more clear there.
Mulan was a solid live action adaptation of the original animated film that doesn’t necessarily enhance the plot, but does feature some very exciting action scenes. They don’t take the story in a new direction, but focus in on the sense of duty and the training of one for the army. The combative choreography was very well done, it looked cool and used the mystical elements to their full extent.
It was grounded with a sense of realism, yet at the same time had a certain extra bit of power to it. I felt the use of color was lovely, and it was really well shot. The set pieces were at times stunning and fairly varied. The performances were great, I just wish the side characters would have had more attention. I didn’t really get to know anyone else outside of Mulan, and the others were just largely forgettable.
It’s a fairly typical action film I suppose, with some neat scenes and solid pacing to it. It hits the narrative beats you would expect, and is just a generally more serious take on the animated classic. Still, it has a light hearted attitude to it with some laughs and more fun scenes. It can be dark, but does for the most part keep things light enough for any type of audience to enjoy it.
Mulan Review at Home with Streamed Viewing
Screening was Provided by Disney