Disney’s Live-Action ‘Mulan’ is ‘Fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes, Here’s What Critics Are Saying
The much-awaited live-action adaptation of Disney’s “Mulan” is finally out, receiving a “fresh” 78% rating on the review aggregation website for films and television, Rotten Tomatoes.
Positive reviews: The film, directed by Niki Caro and stars Liu Yifei as the titular character, received positive reviews from many movie critics, Boston reported.
“‘Mulan’ feels as if it were made by someone who didn’t necessarily love Disney’s earlier treatment,” Peter Debruge of Variety wrote in his review. “That may disappoint fans who grew up on that version but should pose no obstacle to a new generation sure to be inspired by this epic-scale tribute to female empowerment.”
Ty Burr of The Boston Globe said the live-action adaptation of “Mulan” does not feel like a “perverse corporate money-grab.”
“The stars of the film are the camerawork, the battle scenes — vertiginous exercises in whirling stuntmen and twirling angles — and leading actress Liu, who matures from rawboned girl to seasoned leader as we watch,” Burr wrote in the review. “… In the end, ‘Mulan’ 2020 stands as an inspired oddity: A reenvisioned remake that improves on the original even as it owes everything to movies that have come before.”
Johnny Oleksinski, from the New York Post, said he was relieved the live-action adaptation was not a “reflection” of the 1998 animated film, CNBC reported.
“‘Mulan,’ however, while not totally original, transitions to live action with real guts and reinvention,” Oleksinski said. “Yes, I missed the 1998 animated film’s catchy music and talking animals — Eddie Murphy as a joking dragon called Mushu might be tough to swing in 2020 — but I was swept away by the breathtaking Chinese backdrops and high-stakes battles.”
“Removing from mind the original’s existence, Mulan—to me—was a mediocre attempt by Disney to tell a legendary Chinese story,” Ng said. “I’m not going to get into identity politics. Niki Caro does a fine job with drama and action, but I wonder what the final product would have looked like if an Asian director and writer—under Disney’s guidance—had been at the helm.”
Negative views: Although the live-action adaptation received positive reviews from critics, others were not exactly fond of the new Disney film.
Inkoo Kang, a critic from The Hollywood Reporter, described the great scenery in the movie as a way to distract the audience from the “anemic characterizations, uninvolving storyline and stunted performances” of the film.
“The result is a creatively squeamish, pokily paced movie by committee that has four credited screenwriters, a slew of hackneyed Disney tropes and an enervating lack of emotional resonance,” she said. “No wonder it relies so heavily on the 1998 animated film for its musical cues — the nostalgia from the instrumental snippets of ‘Reflection’ are the only reason to feel anything. Despite all the splendor, there’s little sense of vision.”
Justin Chang of National Public Radio (NPR) described “Mulan” as a “watered-down version of a potentially captivating story.”
“It’s not surprising to hear Chinese characters speaking stilted, accented English, which is standard practice for a Hollywood blockbuster set in an Asian country,” he said. “I was more disappointed by how the script treats fairly intuitive cultural ideas — about a person’s chi and the importance of family honor — as if they were difficult foreign concepts that needed to be repeatedly explained to the viewer.”
The Detroit News’ Adam Graham called the costumes used in “Mulan” as “a little flat” and how its aerial acrobatics in the fight scenes lack the magic other wuxia (martial arts genre in China) films have.
“When the characters in films such as ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ or ‘Hero’ fly through the air, there’s a visual poetry to the fluidity of their movements, and their soaring feels like a majestic reflection of the human spirit,” he said. “That magic isn’t present here, and the action scenes don’t achieve lift-off.”
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