Hey guys! Gerawallstar here, and I am here to review the 36th Walt Disney Animated film Mulan, which was released in 1998. Mulan came out at a time when the Disney Renaissance was about to end. It was a decent critical and financial hit for the company. As the years go by, people fell in love with the film, and they put the film in the top 10 best Disney films. In my opinion, this film is very good. I like the film, but I don’t love it like a lot of people do.
The story is about a girl named Mulan disguising herself as a man to fight in the war to defeat the huns in place of her ill father, while also fighting to prove herself that she is capable as a woman to fight in war. What makes the story stand out is how Disney portrays female empowerment with Mulan trying to fight in war defeating the huns. Disney has really gone out of its way in tackling the themes of gender, sexuality, and traditions of women in the chinese time period of the film such as being unable to fight in war, or forced to get married. I also give praise to this film for not sugarcoating war when Mulan and the men were fighting against the huns. An example of this was when one of the songs in the movie was cut abruptly when the men were witnessing a disaster territory. Theres no happy moments, but only dark and gloom which makes it a realistic reflection of war. The actual climax is even intense and epic in the fight with the huns and the battle between Mulan and the villain. My biggest issue with the story is the comedy. Dont get me wrong, there are a few funny moments in the film, but the comedy can be very weak and inappropriate at times such as when Mushu and the cricket accidentally launced the missle up in the sky starting the intense war scene with the huns. Its not as bad as Hunchback and especially Pocahontas, but I would appreciated it more if they toned down the comedy a little bit just so that the movie could be more serious, and not have tonal issues. I also wished that they took out the dance number at the end. It felt out of place in this movie. The story is good, and it portrays the war and women in the time period very well. I give the story seven stars!
Holy smokes! Disney has done it again with the animation in this film. Okay, it’s not perfect but close. Fun fact: this was the first Disney film that was worked on at the Walt Disney Studios in Orlando Florida. The animators did a terrific job with the animation working over there for the first time. The visuals are breathtaking and amazing. I loved how grand the animation gets here, especially in the climax. I even love the chinese symbolisms where the visuals provide decent use of chinese culture. I heard one reviewer complained about the animation being too much like a Saturday Morning Cartoon, and I agree with that. The biggest problem with the animation is that it does feel like a Saturday morning cartoon at times with the way that most of the characters are designed. The animation is gorgeous and one of Disney’s finest efforts. I give the animation nine stars!
My biggest issue with the movie is surprisingly the characters. I’m sorry, but I find most of them a little weak. Let’s start with the good characters. Mulan is an excellent female character, and one of my favorite Disney Princesses next to Tiana and Belle with her excellent female empowerment, her determination to fight in the war in place of her sick father. She is a excellent role model to girls representing a great female heroine. The leader Li Shang is also a great character with his excellent leadership skills as a new leader, and his character arc in the film. I even like Mulans family, too. That’s where the good stuff ends. The characters Yao, Ling and Chien Po are funny representing the three stooges, but I find them to be very very tropey and forgettable characters. Mushu is my least favorite comic relief. While he is funny too, I don’t like Eddie Murphy as Mushu. It’s not that he is bad as him, but he doesn’t fit for a character like Mushu where he fits in a role like Donkey from Shrek. Disney choosing a celebrity to voice a character in a lot of the renaissance films except for Aladdin, Hercules, and The Lion King feels phoned-in. Lastly, the villain Shang Yu is the worst villain in Disney because he is so bland and a generic bad guy. I am mixed on the characters in here. I give the characters five stars!
The songs in this movie are great. But they are not anything amazing. As much as I love the memorable songs “Honor to us all”, and “A girl worth fighting for” for representing gender roles, and satirizing them, the issues with these songs are that they do feel typical. “Reflection” is amazing. It’s a great song with a great message of identity, and learning about yourself. “I’ll make a man out of you” is the standout song where it shows a perfect montage of Mulan trying to train with the group she is in, failing and eventually succeeding. Voice actor B.D. Wong does a good job singing the song. The songs are good, but not top 10 worthy of best Disney songs. They are not the best songs to me. I give the songs eight stars!
I know this is everyone’s favorite Disney film, but as great as I find Mulan to be, it’s honestly not as strong as the other Disney films out there. It has a good story, fantastic animation, and great songs, but most of the characters, and the comedy does weaken the film a little bit. I would still recommend this film if you want to learn about female empowerment, and gender roles. May not be the best film, but it has an amazing female protagonist. I give this movie an 8 out of 10!