Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MULAN (2020)

Any of you that actually paid $30 for this on Disney Plus’s Premier Access…especially when you could’ve waited three months to watch it for free…what were you smoking? And to those that did and actually enjoyed this movie…seriously, what were you smoking? Was it expensive? Were you eating Member Berries during it? You had to be, because MULAN (2020) is a disaster on almost every level of film making I can think of. Put aside the fact that the cartoon in the 90s is a cinematic classic and is still likely to make you feel good to this day. Put aside the classic songs from it. Put aside all the controversies of the making of this live action remake, from some of the controversial locations it was filmed at, to the unauthentic filmmakers behind the camera (pssst, they’re white!), to the lead actress supporting police brutality in Hong Kong. Put ALL that aside. Judge Mulan as if it were this brand new toy you can play with. No prior notions…and it still fails on almost every level of film making I can think of. I couldn’t relate to the character of Mulan because from the get go, as a small child, she has chi like strength and abilities, making her training scenes seem trite and unnecessary. The main villain male is hardly in the movie and what little he is in is a cookie cutter, plain Jane, cardboard cut out of a character. The film, even though it has an over $200-$300 million budget, looks cheap. It looks like most of the film was shot inside a studio, with props here and there, and terrible, terrible green screen everywhere that joins the Star Wars prequels in how out of place it looks to everything else. The female empowerment message is watered down and not earned, especially when it is basically resolved only half way through the film. I’ll get into more in a minute, but all of this is just the tip of the spear of how poorly made and executed this film is.

To quote a friend on Facebook, “remember Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon? Well this is like that but way worse.” To quote another friend on Facebook, “It’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Disney.” You can both say that again and again and again. Not only does Mulan rip off a lot of the flying martial arts from that movie throughout the entirety of this one, but it cheaply rips off a symbolic scene from the final season of Game of Thrones, a season that has been critically slammed by all as being lazy and pretentious (I’ll give you a hint at the scene: the wings but not a dragon). That’s how I would describe this film if only given two words: lazy and pretentious. I promised myself that I would try my best to not compare this to the animated version, but to prove a giant point, I’ve got to. In the cartoon, Mulan EARNS her female empowerment arc. She trains, and she trains hard, to become the great warrior she was destined to be. In this live action remake, she’s basically Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. People complained that Rey was too strong in the force without any training and at such an older age. Well here, Mulan mastered the forc…errr I mean these flying chi martial arts abilities with absolutely no training. There is a beginning scene where she masters a fall as a young child that literally was so bad I laughed out loud hard. Hence, all this proves is that SHE HAS NO ARC IN THIS MOVIE. The female empowerment message that is as bright as day and so good in the classic animated film is lost here and nowhere to be found. Her training scenes here are a joke as she masters everything like a walk in the park. She’s like Anakin Skywalker too, already the chosen one without really having to do shit to prove herself. She leaps through mid air twice in this movie to effortlessly kick a giant spear and a small arrow into an enemy’s chest (I laughed inappropriately both times). And both times does it look goofy, unrealistic, and dumb.

Was Jet Li, who plays the Emperor, dubbed over in this film? From what I’ve researched he wasn’t but his words never quite matched his lips and he looked like he really didn’t want to be there. I think he accepted the role as a wish from his daughter, but isn’t he sick and has since removed himself from private life? Doing research he has hyperthyroidism, which causes fatigue and weight loss. He should’ve stayed home. All of the backgrounds in this movie, except for when characters are inside buildings, look awfully fake. Everything looks as if it was surrounded by green screen…are you meaning to tell me that they couldn’t have just shot at real locations? If the reason why they tried but couldn’t because the filmmakers were predominately white, including the writers and director Niki Caro, I wouldn’t be too surprised. This whole film watered down and feels unauthentic. You are meaning to tell me that Disney couldn’t have hired Chinese filmmakers that knew a lot about their history, lore and culture to film and show us something really special? I’m not saying do the whole thing with subtitles or something like that, but surely there were more talented filmmakers out there that could’ve done a better job than Niki Caro (she has arguably only directed one decent film, Whale Rider) and company did? I’m surprised the Chinese government hasn’t out right banned this film from screening in their country it feels so fake. Fuck they should’ve just got Ang Lee to write and direct this (he actually did direct Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, his best film) and even with his rocky track record of late, he could’ve done a much, much better job and had it be more realistic and emotional than this.

Not one emotion here is earned. When she sheds her boy image, only about halfway through the film, while riding her horse through computer animated back drops, I didn’t feel a fucking thing. her “romance” with one of the male warriors is rushed and barely there. There is a avalanche action sequence that is blurry, a CGI mess, and laughably bad. The acting is downright atrocious except for Tzi Ma, who plays Mulan’s father, as he seems like he’s the only one that wants to be there. The film is edited poorly and some of it looks like it was filmed for a class in college. It is just a poorly made film. If anybody that would try to argue with me on why it is a good film, I would argue that clearly 2020 isn’t making you think clearly, as you are eating tons and tons of Member Berries without even thinking of doing so. If you enjoyed this film, you are blind. The best thing about this film was the end credits with Christina Aguilera’s rendition of Reflection, which was not half bad. Go back and watch the animated version and then watch this one again and still tell me this was a well made film in its own right. I will literally laugh in your face. Did you automatically like it because you got lazy, privileged, and selfish during quarantine and would bow down to Disney just because they gave you something to watch at home and not “risk” going to a theater and getting coronavirus? You paid $30 dollars for this garbage for goodness sake (I didn’t, thankfully). Some of you sound like you will like anything, no matter how poorly made it is, if you get it at home and don’t have to leave your houses. You know what that is called? It’s called having a lazy, bias, and skewed film critique. I can see small children not knowing any better, but the adults that are loving this film should be. Those of you who recommend this version of Mulan, I hope that by the end of 2020, or by the end of this pandemic, when the dust settles, maybe you can re-watch this without nostalgia goggles, and change your poor critique reflection. You need to look past the glitz and glamour, be true to your heart, and not have Disney make a turd out of you.

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