The latest DIsney live-action remake misses the mark, delivering a slow-moving tale devoid of the joy and emotion of its predecessor while ultimately minimizing the impact of the the hero’s journey at the core.
Mulan tells the tale of a young woman (Yifei Liu) in ancient China who takes her disabled father’s place in joining the Imperial Army upon Emperor’s orders, pretending to be a man as she and her fellow soldiers ready for battle with northern invaders. In what should be a strong story of female empowerment, this adaptation relies on a magical chi that Mulan is endowed with, undermining the core values at the very center of the film. Once again we are given a tale of a woman overcoming obstacles not because of her own bravery and skill, but because of an unseen factor that helps carry her through. This, to me, sadly decimates the strength of Mulan.
The film also takes quite a bit to get moving; boring plot development is stretched over much of the first hour, peppered with boilerplate dialogue that induces eye-rolls galore. There is certainly something to be said for the beauty of the film as a whole, with stunning costumes and picturesque locations, but little else is going for it. Even most of the acting seemed forced and lousy. I wanted to love this film, but sadly director Niki Caro has fallen short in recapturing the power of the story of Mulan.
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