Mulan 2020 Review


The release of the live-action Mulan is one more unfortunate event to occur in 2020. 

The movie was full of issues, even before the film’s release. In August of 2019, it was found that Liu Yifei, the actress playing the role of Mulan, supported Hong Kong police brutality

When the film was released, the camera angles and blatant disregard of Chinese culture angered many audience members. In addition, after the release, it was discovered that filming had taken palace in Xinjiang, a location that has come under fire due to abuses committed against Uigurs and other Muslim minorities.

The trainwreck of a movie began with the required payment of $29.99 on the streaming service, Disney+, in order to watch it. This led to confusion from viewers, as earlier this year the company released Lady and the Tramp and subscribers did not have to pay an extra fee.

Many viewers decided to watch anyway, hoping the high price correlated to the value of the film experience. After all, Disney is known for releasing creative and exciting retellings of stories and the audience was swayed into believing that the film would be another favorite amongst their families. Unfortunately, the viewers were immediately let down as soon as the opening credits rolled through.

As the movie began playing, numerous problems were present. The cinematography, plotline, character development, and cultural aspects were frustrating and left a bad taste in many viewers’ mouths.

The cinematography was jerky, unpleasant, and incredibly distracting. As the characters fought and climbed, the constant flips and rotations of the camera took the viewer out of the scenes. This was problematic, as the storyline was dizzying and confusing enough without the addition of feeling as though one was riding on a poorly assembled carnival contraption.

The plotline was convoluted, stiff, and lacked the heart that the original is known for. Multiple scenes in the movie do hold a candle to the intensity of the original but the characters’ actions have very few consequences and events don’t lead very well into one another. 

Additionally, the lack of musical numbers made the movie have a more somber and dark feeling, which in itself is not a negative aspect. However, the addition of unfunny comedic gags to break up the mainly depressing themes made the atmosphere feel especially complicated.

The few character arcs present feel forced and unnatural. This is poorly coupled with the laughable dialogue that takes itself too seriously and does little to give insight into the characters’ personalities. 

Additionally, the characters’ personalities are undeveloped and never fully explored, as the audience is only given snippets into what a character’s potential could be before the plot is moved quickly along to the next scene. 

The running time feels too fast and too slow simultaneously because of this. When the credits rolled out and no loose ends were tied up, many viewers were left befuddled.

The subtraction of well-loved characters, especially Mushu and Li-Shang, only adds to the movie’s long list of misfortunes. The phoenix is a sorry replacement for the well-loved and sarcastic dragon, and Li-Shang’s replacements are one-dimensional characters who add nothing to the atrocious plot.

The director’s explanation to remove the dragon, a well-known icon of Chinese culture, was done to make the film feel more grounded and realistic, a claim that falls flat with the inclusion of mythological creatures from other cultures. 

The inclusion of the bird lady and the phoenix are just two of the many historical and cultural issues seen throughout the movie. It is incredibly clear that the level of research conducted was superficial and the film inevitably suffered due to this.

Despite the movie’s flaws, it did well in terms of commercial success, a fact that is shocking given the controversies that surrounded the film prior to and after its release. Luckily for the entertainment juggernaut, Disney still managed to scrape together some decent earnings and streaming service downloads.