Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Ultimate Disney List 4: "Mulan"

This time, the princess saves
the prince.

Mulan Rouge

      Mulan is a 1998 animated film based on the Chinese figure, Mulan. The film was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook (Walking With Dinosaurs) and was written by, deep breath, Rita Hsiao (Toy Story 2), Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch), Philip LaZebnik (Pocahontas), Raymond Singer (Joseph: King of Dreams) and Eugenia Bostwick-Singer (NightScream). The film follows Mulan (Ming-Na Wen), who upon learning that her father (Soon-Tek Oh) has been called to war takes her father's place in the army with the help of a lucky cricket and dragon Mushu (Eddie Murphy). Together with leader Shang (BD Wong) and advisor Chi Fu (James Hong), they attempt to protect the Emperor (Pat Morita) from the villainous Hun leader Shan-Yu (Miguel Ferrer). 

Oh, and there's a horse too.
It's Animated, Alright

      I gotta admit that I never really love the so-called Disney Renaissance of the 90s. I just never got into them as a kid like others did. But, granted, I am taking a fair look back at them with this list, starting with 1998's Mulan. And was I wrong as a kid? Well, yes and no. I know a lot of people really like this movie. And I like it too, just not as much as other people. The problem with this film is the same problem I had with the other 90s film. It just doesn't hold my attention. And that's really at the hands of the characters. Sure, I like them. I just don't care about them. Mulan is a cool character voiced well by Ming-Na Wen. But I just didn't care about her story or how it ended. Mushu too. Even the film barely has him as the comic relief. Was it just me or did he barely do anything in this movie? I just don't find the characters that interesting and as a result, I have a hard time getting into the story.

Disney War

      And of course some things that I loved. The animation is typically beautiful for Disney. I mean, when the poster for the movie is a beautiful as the one above, the film better look great and this one does. The location are just terrific and the animation, especially in the battles are great. The songs are good and "I'll Make a Man Out of You" is one of the best training montages ever put in a film. And I loved how Disney had some honestly brutal depictions of war in this film. When one song abruptly ends at the sight of a destroy village, it becomes one of Disney's greatest moments. A beautiful and respectful look at a tragedy of war. It surprising to see Disney go that bold in a family film, but it's certainly welcome and makes the movie worth it.

The severed head was a bit much though.
The Verdict

      Mulan might not be my favorite Disney film from the Renaissance but I do love certain things about it. The beautiful animation, the great songs and the bold depictions of war make this more than an average film. However, the mild characters and okay story hamper the rest of the film. Overall, not one of the House of Mouse's best, but a solid film on it's own. Mulan gets 4 and a half stars out of 6.

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