The live action version of Mulan is great, as long as you don’t walk into it comparing it to the animated version of the film.
So, how does it compare to the animated version? It doesn’t or at least it shouldn’t be compared because then you’ll miss out on the beauty of this film.
That being said (I am talking to you my fellow Mulan fans), do not go into this film comparing the two because while the premise remained the same (Mulan leaves her family to go fight in the Imperial Army on behalf of her father pretending to be a man), the story is told differently and that is OK. Actually it is better than OK, because this movie is really well done.
I say all of that as a major fan of the animated version who had her doubts.
Let me set the stage for you, I was 18 years old when Mulan was released back in 1998 (wait, did I just date myself?) but being an “adult” wasn’t going to stop me from watching a Disney animation…and it still doesn’t. After watching the movie, it instantly became one of my Disney faves for numerous reasons but specifically because of the music (“I’ll Make A Man Out Of You”), the characters (Mulan and Mushu) and the message.
Having loved it so much, I had mixed emotions when I heard that they’d be making a live action film of Mulan. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see this movie brought to life with real characters but you know how that can go. Needless to say, I approached this film with some doubts. However, all that was pushed to the side as I sat in that theater watching their version of Mulan unfold.
Mulan is a powerful story about embracing your true potential.
This version gave me all the feels, but in a different way. I feel like the the movie grew up with me. Watching it again as adult and a mother of a young lady, I know how important it is that she feels seen and heard. That she knows she is fully capable of being who she wants to be without holding herself back. Mulan doesn’t get that opportunity until she ventures out on her own and is brave enough to let them see who she really is. That is actually one of the things that is different about the live action, Mulan chooses to show them who she is instead of them discovering it and there was something empowering about that. It was at that moment that truly embraced who she was and who she was meant to be.
They did find a way to incorporate a couple of things from the original film, like a song and a cameo (which was really awesome…but that’s all I’ll say about that) but some of the things I really loved like Mushu’s character or my favorite song of the film, I’ll make a man out of you was noticeably absent. Considering that their army training is a big part of the film, I think that they should have found a way to at least incorporate this epic song into the scene, even as a classical version playing in the background.
There are a few other differences. This story dives deeper into Mulan’s strength as a child, whereas the animated film started with her older, which makes for a really cool scene early on that provides us with more of a backstory. She also has a younger sister in this movie but sadly doesn’t have a funny grandmother. They also introduced a new character, Xian Lang, another strong female character who plays a vital role in the film.
But fear not, the matchmaker scene is still in the film!
While the animated version of the film has heart and makes you laugh, this version of the film has heart and a whole lot of action. Not just any kind of action though, it has the really good fight scenes that leave you wondering how they did that. You know, like when they walk on walls or catch an arrow before it hits them. It was reminiscent of older martial arts movies I grew up with that left us in awe of what we were seeing on screen.
The movie explores inner strength, family, finding your voice, respect, loyalty and friendship just like the animated film did in this film the focus on friendship is really between Mulan and her fellow soldiers. With all of those themes, there are definitely some great conversation starters after the film.
Given that there is no mature content, I felt good about letting the kids watch it with me and while I don’t think it is inappropriate for the younger kids (besides the fight scenes), I am not sure they would stay engaged in the film as they would for the animated version. This version of Mulan is an action film the whole family will enjoy and it is definitely more enjoyable for the men who don’t have to sit through another animated film and can enjoy the fight scenes.
Yes, this version of Mulan is different from the one we know and love but it’s all good and definitely worth the watch!
Mulan will be available on Disney+ for viewers with Premier Access on September 4th.
More about Mulan
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Fa Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.