‘Mulan’ is just another soulless Disney rehash

Nolan Fullington, News Writer

“Mulan (2020)” is another product from Disney that you’re meant to consume, then praise this corporation for representation in a film that was already perfect and diverse 22 ago. Except this time, most of it was filmed in a room-temperature sound stage in front of a green screen.

However, I did not forfeit any money to Disney to see this film but rather waited for a fortuitous opportunity where I could watch it for free.

“Mulan (2020)” is about Mulan doing the exact same thing we already saw her do twenty-two years ago, except this time it’s more boring, blunt and overt.

‘Mulan’ 2020 Official Release Poster

This film and “Captain Marvel” have the exact same problem, and I don’t know what it is with Disney, but they have no idea how to write strong female characters anymore.

They’re characters who inherit a magic power that makes them do anything and everything while men specifically attempt to suppress that power. Each film is about the female protagonist unleashing that power to become overly powerful halfway through the film and be that way for the next hour.

So “Mulan (2020),” Rey from “Star Wars” and “Captain Marvel” are not about working hard or staying dedicated to achieve your goals, like “Mulan (1998)” did. It’s instead about relying on a magic power you luckily possess to do all the work for you because you’re a woman and in order to be a strong woman, you need a magic power that’s completely unattainable in real life to do anything worthwhile.

This “Mulan” remake just took all of the subtext from the original film and made it text, in case you didn’t understand the original film’s intentions for some reason. There are so many scenes where someone says, “But Mulan, you’re a woman. You can’t be a warrior because you’re not a man. Go be a good wife.” That was the literal dialogue at times.

One other major issue I had with the film was this magical force power called the Chi. It’s essentially the Force and it allows you to do everything, including the kind of floaty action that ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ features, which completely destroys the sense of grounding that this live action remake is trying to achieve.

The animated “Mulan” film had more realism to it than this remake. Characters are snatching arrows out of mid-air, running up walls and doing Jedi backflips that it ruined the sense of realism this film needed to really distinguish itself from its predecessor.

“Mulan (2020)” is standing on the shoulders of giants in the martial arts genre to self-proclaim itself as this “bold,” new re-imagining of “Mulan” when the film’s action is not inventive.

For the average audience member, yes, the action is something they may have never seen before, but if you’re at all familiar with even base-level martial arts films, you’ll find that “Mulan (2020)” is just taking whatever elements it wants from other great films and using it without acknowledging those great films it took from. It is reminiscent of the “Jungle Cruise” movie Disney is releasing soon and will probably not acknowledge how they are blatantly stealing from “The African Queen.”

Still, having taken from “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” “Mulan (2020)” still was still an awful action film. It’s not just that the drama and everything else didn’t work, but it’s edited with a weed wacker. It’s that kind of quick-cutty, CGI nonsense that nobody likes, but then someone occasionally runs on a wall and stabs someone without a single drop of blood being spilled because this is a Disney film.

One other thing that completely bothered me from the start was that everyone spoke English. In the original “Mulan,” it’s a cartoon and from the 90s; it gets a pass. But in this world of progressive thinking and increased representation in film, then also having this be a live-action remake, it’s bothersome that all of these characters are not speaking their native languages.

Especially if the point of this film was to ground the narrative in realism. Having these characters speak English versus any other language is Disney acknowledging that they understand what will make more money, so they decided to go the “marketable” route (Disney thinks you’re stupid).

This is also another one of those Disney films where everything looks perfect and feels so calculated. All of the edges are sanded off, everyone’s clothing looks shiny and washed, their hair is always perfect, green screens are incredibly obvious to spot as well.

I just utterly hate those kinds of movies because they don’t have character. It doesn’t feel like someone’s vision is on the screen. It feels like a bunch of suits were behind the camera with clipboards checking off boxes and looking at the market research.

The actress who played Mulan here is also so boring. There is nothing to her character when the 1998 version of that character had a pinch of whimsicalness. And because that version of the character worked hard to achieve her goals, there is a great deal of care for her. Mulan in this remake feels like a stand-in. As “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” would put it, “just filling a seat.”

In fact, halfway through the film, Mulan learns to unleash her power. So not even an hour into this film, she is already super powerful and can do everything, which makes for such a boring character.

You need that emotional element to her character that gets paid off during the end climax or her discovering to unleash that power during the climax. Instead, there is nothing and characters just wack swords at each other for a climax.

Cri-Kee from “Mulan (1998)” is a human being in this remake and they do absolutely nothing with that character. Take him out of the film and nothing changes. Literally nothing. Cricket (Cri-Kee) is only there in another desperate attempt to make you care about what’s happening on screen.

Donnie Yen was also tricked into another Disney production. I’m sure he just didn’t care anymore and took the paycheck. Good for him and Jet Li though who are legitimate martial artists, but the film made no attempt at highlighting their abilities.

The villain, Bori Khan, is also boring. He is an evil man who wants to take over the kingdom because he wants revenge and he dies in the most hilarious way. It’s like a subpar “Game of Thrones.”

This film just got more and more pathetic as it went along to the point where I was laughing at what was happening and this $200 million production turned into schlock.

In six months, everyone will forget this film exists and just go back to talking about how wonderful the 1998 film is. Nothing about this remake is impressive and it has no redeeming elements. It’s the illusion of grandeur, but it’s really a ploy to get people to spend thirty dollars to watch it on a streaming service you already have to pay monthly for.