A Walt Disney Picture, Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin, Directed by Niki Caro.
On the face of it, this is a film you would want to massively champion. A $200 Million Disney blockbuster, featuring an all Asian cast and is the most expensive film ever directed by a woman. However, the film has been dogged by controversies of its own making almost from the outset. It started off reasonably light with the backlash to the removal of songs and major characters from the animated original, and then it quickly got political.
The film’s lead star made comments about the Hong-Kong protests that quickly angered people, and recently the shocking news that part of the film was actually shot in the province of Xinjiang, where internment camps containing up to a million ethnically Turkic citizens are located, and they even thanked that local government in the end credits.
That is a lot to take in, and on top of that add how the pandemic resulted in this film no longer being a cinema release and debuting for extra cost on Disney Plus. However, I have separated myself from all that and I am ready to judge the film on it’s actual merits, and unfortunately, it still isn’t much good.
I will start with the things that I think are definite positives: there is clearly a lot of money on screen with some well done battle sequences and a clear large scale to the film, Tzi Ma is incredibly sympathetic as Mulan’s father and does a great job, and the cameo from original Mulan voice actress Ming-Na Wen is a nice touch and she looks stunning.
However, the rest of the elements of the film are not up to scratch. The songs are gone in order to make it a more ‘serious’ film and yet it leaves it feeling entirely soulless, and I was left feeling almost no emotional stakes throughout the film.
This might be down to: a predictable and uninspired script, mostly poor acting across the board that often feels stilted and unnatural, some action scenes that seem almost like parodies of generic Kung-Fu films, and the annoying fact that unlike in the original version, there is simply no way the main character here would’ve passed for a man at any stage.
It is likely this elements frustrated me more than usual due to the potential there was to do something really special here, and how that potential has been wasted in the most part in a film that really can only be proud of its visuals and scale.
Rating = 2/5