Is Disney's live-action remake of Mulan about to bring honour to the studio? It would appear so, judging from the initial social media reactions that have emerged in the wake of the Los Angeles premiere.
Liu Yifei stars as the title character, a young woman who takes her father's place in the Chinese army to help battle evil witch Xian Lang (Gong Li) and her forces. The movie derives inspiration from both the 1998 Disney animated hit, and the folkloric 6th-century poem 'The Ballad of Mulan'. Although several aspects of the animated movie have been removed (notably, the songs, the character of Mushu and the character of Li Shang), the live-action film amps up the action sequences and fantastical aspects.
It's directed by Whale Rider filmmaker Niki Caro and co-stars a who's who of martial arts talent, including Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee and Jet Li. Original 'Reflection' singer Christina Aguilera has recorded a new version of the song, plus a brand new anthem called 'Loyal Brave True'. And early responses have praised the movie's scope (it's been shot on a huge budget of $230 million) and spirit.
Mashable's Angie J. Han lauds the movie as the best Disney reboot since 2015's Cinderella.
#Mulan is the best of the Disney live-action remakes since Cinderella — I didn’t even miss the songs. Finds new notes in a story we already know while delivering gorgeous action, heart, and humor. Liu Yifei is on fire— Angie J. Han (@ajhan) March 10, 2020
Film critic Michael Lee says the movie strikes an excellent balance between the old and the new.
#Mulan is one of the best live-action adaptation of a Disney animated classic. It honors the 1998 film and the ballad by modernizing themes of female empowerment and iconic scenes, while also standing out w/ great cinematography & battle sequences are reminiscent of Wuxia epics. pic.twitter.com/2DUjzX1M1h— Michael Lee (@IamMichaelJLee) March 10, 2020
Fandango editor Erik Davis compliments Caro for striking out in a more "mature" direction.
#Mulan is exciting, vibrant, emotional, and different from the animated version. It's definitely its own thing, which I dug - a more mature Disney film, featuring stunning production design & fight choreography. Director Niki Caro & star Liu Yifei are the big stand-outs, imo pic.twitter.com/p6IEQUDNBu— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) March 10, 2020
Fellow Mashable writer Alison Foreman says that despite the absence of Li Shang, there's plenty of romantic intrigue in the movie, not to mention enough nods to the original to keep nostalgics happy.
Disney’s Mulan remake leaves a lot behind, but offers much more in its absence. Plenty of 1998 throwbacks pepper a story full of incredible action, humor, and heart.— Alison Foreman (@alfaforeman) March 10, 2020
Oh, and the romantic chemistry gets STEAMY. Like chanting “kiss” in a silent theater steamy.#Mulan2020 #mulan
The Movie Couple's Wendy Lee Szany describes the movie as a beautiful-looking and engaging experience, while also pointing out the references to the 1998 movie.
The cast of Mulan is fantastic in the film. There are lots of little moments that nods to the animated that’ll make the fans happy. Very beautiful & epic cinematography. It had more fantastical elements than I expected. Overall, a great re-telling of the animated and very fun— Wendy Lee Szany (@WendyLeeSzany) March 10, 2020
And Insider journalist Kirsten Acuna says the new movie honours the musical heritage of the songs, originally written by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel.
#Mulan is absolutely fantastic. Different enough with great action scenes, but with the heart of the original film. It doesn't even matter that it's not a musical. If you're a fan of the animated, there are subtle nods to many of the songs. Can’t wait to see this again.— Kirsten (@KirstenAcuna) March 10, 2020