Mulan, Why A Key Character Didn’t Make The Cut – Review
Following in the footsteps of The Lion King, Cinderella, The Jungle Boon and many others. Mulan is the latest Disney offering to make the leap from animation to live-action. Originally scheduled for release in March. The film was pushed back to September 2020. And then rather than a theatrical release, it made its debut on Disney Plus as a premium purchase. But as our Mulan review will show, this version is missing something important from the 1998 version.
WARNING: Spoilers from here on out, so proceed with caution.
Mushu made Disney’s 1998 animated version of Mulan, but that’s a different review. The plucky, overzealous mini-dragon created much of the entertainment for the movie.
So why didn’t he make the cut for the latest live-action adaptation? There are many answers, and not all of them have fans support. But a few alter the credibility of the original animation.
One of the main reasons for Mushu’s demise as a missing character comes down to authenticity. The 1998 film was deemed “too western” by audiences across China. This latest production set out to rectify this for all those of Chinese descent who felt duped by the lack of authenticity.
The origin of the tale is thought to have been iterated from a Chinese ballad of the female warrior Hua Mulan. Disney’s original adaptation told a very similar story. A young woman who takes her father’s place to fight against nomadic hordes.
Mulan’s origin is highly treasured by China. So the Chinese population can be forgiven for their grievance. A grievance against a Chinese-based animation where little Chinese is spoken. Where most characters hold an American accent.
Another explanation comes down to the sheer size of weaving such a beloved animated character into a live setting. The logistics of transforming such a lively animation into live-screen would have been some feat. Especially as there is already so much cinematography in the film.
The Directors thoughts
During a footage reveal for the release director Niki Caro stated that ‘we can all appreciate Mushu is irreplaceable. You know, the animated classic stands on its own in that regard’. Caro also confirmed that Mulan’s new guardian would more closely relate to the original Chinese ballad.
So who is this new guardian who is held in so much regard? A phoenix. That’s right, a large, heavily-feathered, soaring red phoenix.
‘Do you know why the phoenix sits on the right hand of the emperor?’ Mulan’s father asks, ‘because she is his guardian. And she is both beautiful and strong.’
Mushu possesses none of the qualities of the new mystical guardian, he is neither beautiful nor strong. But the phoenix is silent which seems to have audiences in a frenzy.
Understandably, both are completely different but fit their roles within the two movies. This review finds that Mulan (1998) is light-hearted in comparison to its successor. The latest adaptation is far more serious in both setting and cinematography. So, the soaring phoenix whose back-story is already engrained in Chinese civilisation only adds to the severity of the tale.
The phoenix also represents spiritualism, as Caro explained: “On the left and right hand of the emperor, there is a dragon. The dragon is representative of the masculine. And the phoenix is representative of the feminine.’
The director further expressed her desire to commit to the ‘gender fluidity’ of the film. This was done by appropriately following suit with a feminine guardian representative.
Although the movie was released via Disney’s newest platform Disney Plus, it has done exceptionally well raking in 43.8 million dollars.
The bottom line? Mulan’s cinematography is outstanding, and the settings are beautiful. All the basics of the plot are still there, albeit without a self-loving and whimsical mini-dragon to entertain. Plus a few added characters, and some originals that now have more traditional names.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 5/10
Thanks for reading our review and thoughts on Mulan (2020), currently available to stream via the premium service on Disney Plus. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our movie reviews HERE.
Read IMDB information about Mulan (2020) HERE.
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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