Written by: Hannah Van Kuiken
Mulan, rated PG-13 for violence, partial nudity, and no easily quotable sassy dragon sidekick! On September 4th, I went to Lyon Hall to see the new, live-action Mulan movie! I knew that it was going to be very different from the beloved 90’s cartoon and tried to keep an open mind, but I did not expect to see what my eyes beheld. The movie was visually beautiful and made a few powerful points about feminine strength. The fighting style was also very well executed. However, despite the story being somewhat respectful to the Chinese culture and tradition, the writing for the film was done rather poorly and the characters did not leave any lasting impressions.
Visuals: The landscape of the Chinese countryside was gorgeous and jaw-dropping. The costumes were colorful, beautiful, and historically accurate. There was some CGI involved with a Phoenix and Hawk flying around, but the CGI was done tastefully and not to the point where it was tacky.
Points: In the movie, there were some points where people went “oh snap” when Mulan was faced with a difficult challenge due to her being a woman and she passed through the challenge with flying colors. There was a point that the movie made clear that women can do anything a man can do; don’t doubt the women, boys (statement made by the movie, and not necessarily the opinion of our writers)!
Fighting: The fighting style in the movie was cool, but the moves bordered on similarities between Karate Kid with Jaden Smith and the live-action Avatar Last Airbender, so it was a little cheesy at some points but it was well choreographed and amazing to watch.
The Characters: Mulan was the only strong character throughout the whole movie. Every other character was forgettable, especially the male characters. Sadly, there was no strapping General Li Shang to woo Mulan; however, there was a character named Honghui who showed some promise as a potential romantic interest. There was even a part where the characters imitated Star Wars Rise of Skywalker with the two characters touching hands. There was also no spunky grandmother and as stated before no Mushu to offer some comic relief.
Mulan also formed a bond with her fellow soldiers; but, unlike the tough cookie Yao, the hilarious Ling, and the adorably chubby Chan Po, they did not have that much of a presence in the film. There was a cute character named Cricket who did leave a minor impression on the audience, but only because he made us hold our breath for a second, but I will not say why. Mulan’s parents and sister did not leave much of an impression, except that the father was being strict with Mulan about not being feminine enough. The only other strong female character was the sorceress, who wanted to find a place that would accept her for her strength in the wrong way, and she met a sad ending. Again I will not spoil anything.
Awkward: Mulan was also filled with a lot of awkward silence where there could have been some lines to fill in the uncomfortable tension, for example when Mulan was bathing in the pond and one of her comrades tried to talk to her about her trust issues, ignorant to the fact of her femininity.
Other Inaccuracies: I consulted with my brother, an amateur weapons expert, about the weapons used and how Mulan and her companions fought with them. He said that the weapons used during the movie could be historically accurate because the type of sword that Mulan used, a jen, was mostly reserved for nobility and not normally used for war. He also mentioned several other issues with the fighting styles used with the weapons, like how one of the soldiers shot arrows behind his back and how that would require a lot of training. I also saw on a social media page that the way Mulan described chi as using witchcraft was offensive because chi is a source of inner strength and energy.
Personally, I was freaking out when I saw that Ming-Na Wen, the actress who voiced Mulan in the original film, made a cameo in the film! The movie had a point and it made it very clear while visually pleasing us but all in all, it was poorly done and could have stood to make a few improvements. I think it would have been better if the writers had tried harder to make the movie more like the cartoon, down to replicating Mushu with horrible CGI. Overall, I would not highly recommend this movie due to its poorly written script, but if you are more interested in martial arts and spectacular scenery and costumes, then this is the movie for you.