By Ben Lindner, Contributor
Disney needs to stop. Their live-action remakes are complete failures, no more than obvious cash grabs at beloved childhood stories, and though they all pale in comparison to the originals, Mulan (2020) is the worst of them by a mile. The idea behind this one seems to be a more serious take that is more faithful to the original myth. This is not your grandpa’s Mulan. No more talking dragons voiced by Eddie Murphy, no more songs, no more fun stuff.
Read more: Movie Review: The Lion King
That could be okay; what is the movie going to do instead? Nothing.
Well, of course, that isn’t literally true, as this movie manages to be almost 30 minutes longer than the original, but this remake has still somehow gotten the worst of both worlds. The filmmakers remove everything lovable about the original Mulan, but also keep the basic structure of the original narrative. This makes for an empty husk of a movie that is missing too many elements to satisfy a fan of the ’90s film, but is still too undeniably based on it to be a successful new take.
It is impossible not to draw comparisons between Mulan (2020) and its animated predecessor, though it is easy to determine which one is superior. The original Mulan makes me cry, but this movie makes me feel nothing. The new things Disney ads are terrible. In this version, Mulan has chi powers that grant her superhuman abilities. Not only does this ruin the training and development of Mulan’s character, but the filmmakers are incapable of shooting her using these abilities in a compelling way. If they really wanted to “honor” the original myth, Disney could have made something different, but that is clearly not the purpose of the film.
Also new to this version is the character of Xianniang, who is a witch working for the villain who can turn into birds. That is not a hyperbole, that is just who that character is in this “serious” version of Mulan. Not to mention how clunky her characterization is and how forced her relationship with Mulan feels.
This movie is bad—and that’s not even considering the fact that it was filmed in a region of China where ethnic cleansing is happening and that almost no one who worked on this film other than the actors were Chinese. There is no excuse for this movie. Disney could re-release the original Mulan in theaters and make as much money. At least then they would stop distorting child hood memories by butchering these classics.
Watch the trailer here: