June 29, 2021
I know the pun is worn, but this was truly two dimensional compared to the animated version. What could have been a passable wire-fu movie for tween girls suffered greatly by the shadow cast by its source material. Scenes from the original Mulan are recontextualized and incorporated along with themes from the original music, woven into it's score. Each time, it is jarring reminder of the warmth, humor, and joy that completely missing. You constantly are being challenged by this adaption, "why not just stop this and watch the real Mulan?"
In a confusing attempt to be more serious, this Mulan imagines a world where some people are able to harness their natural power, their chi. Such men are celebrated warriors. Powerful women are shunned as witches. Obviously, Mulan has the gift to be a great warrior but needs a convoluted plot to force her to hide as a man. The fight scenes never rise beyond mediocre, the acting never goes beyond stiff, and the wigs are always distracting.
In an obvious trope, masculine Mulan sheds her armor to ride back into battle and the simple transformation also imbues her with amazing makeup, a flawless nude lip, and the most amazing beach waves anyone could ask for. (Maybe she is a witch!) But otherwise the makeup, costumes, and prosthetics are pretty lack luster.
The main reason to endure this movie is to see the amazing settings created in China and New Zealand. Put the movie on mute and just watch it as a travelogue.