AFTER a long wait, Mulan is finally in theatres.
The premise of the film should be familiar to anyone; when China is threatened by the invading Rouran forces, Mulan (Liu Yifei) is forced to join the Imperial Army to save her elderly father from being enlisted.
As women back then were not seen as equal to men, especially in terms of fighting, Mulan’s decision is one that is illegal and forbidden, so she masquerades as a man, leading to a journey of self-discovery and empowerment as she makes her mark in defending her homeland.
Some dodgy CGI aside, the film boasts the big production value that comes with being a Disney project, along with the technical aspects.
But it is not in the cinematography or costume design that the film fails, but rather in everything else, particularly the legacy that looms over it.
Though pushed as the live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated classic of the same name, Mulan isn’t a beat-for-beat remake of its predecessor.
While thematically intact, the film takes creative liberties that are sure to divide casual moviegoers, ardent fans of the animated film and film critics.
Ditching aspects such as the talking dragon Mushu and even songs that made the original iconic, Mulan attempts to go the Zack Snyder route by being serious, whilst at the same time never forgetting that it is a family-friendly Disney movie.
For instance, the war between the antagonistic Rouran invaders and the Imperial Army leaves no lasting impact, because (gasp!) children are watching.
Meanwhile, the departure from the fantastical nature of the original would make sense if the filmmakers stuck to their guns, but the film then includes a mystical phoenix, ambiguous ‘chi’ energy, and magic.
And then there is the decision to include comedy, which is largely tone-deaf in a film that is taking itself too seriously. The film does not break any new ground, with certain elements looking like they were taken from other films.
That said, Mulan is a serviceable blockbuster, but do not go into the film expecting to relive the experiences and nostalgia that made the animated film a timeless piece of cinema.