Today the teaser for Disney’s live-action remake of 1998’s Mulan finally hit the net. Mulan comes out next year in a long line of Disney remakes. You can check it out below:
Virginia: This teaser doesn’t reveal very much (which is as it should be), but I like what we are seeing. It appears to be very much in the spirit of Disney’s animated Mulan, but with an all-new aesthetic. Personally, this is one of a few Disney movies that I think could do with a remake. I actually like the original Mulan very much, but they could come at a remake from a totally different angle, and that just might be what they’re doing. What do you think, Munir?
Munir: As you know, I dread the Disney live-action remakes. I think most of them are easy cash grabs that bank on nostalgia and completely lazy storytelling. However, Mulan seems to be actually trying to do something different, and I’m intrigued. I love the animated film, but this one can work as a remake. This is not because the animated film is bad or needs fixing, but because it can approach the story differently and present us with a new take that can stand side by side with the original. The teaser is really effective. One thing that I really like is that it looks to be a complete drama. I’m sure there are comedic moments, but the lack of laughs or sidekicks really appealed to me. It makes me think of epic war films like Saving Private Ryan or Ran.
V: I agree entirely. I believe you and I have discussed this before, but I’m relieved that the character of Mushu won’t be present. I have no problem with him, but removing the animal side characters makes it a totally different kind of movie. It’s funny that people keep saying they want Disney to make changes, yet each time they do, there’s a riot. If the finished film is as different as this trailer looks, I’ll be happy.
M: Exactly. I really like Mushu as a sidekick, but I think he works better in an animated medium and not in live-action because I’m sure he’ll end up looking either a) creepy (like the objects in Beauty and the Beast), b) expression-less (like the animals in The Lion King), or c) just plain bad (like the Genie in Aladdin). Besides, it seems that this new approach is less rooted in fantasy and legend and more rooted in the human component. So maybe there could be some talks and prayers to the ancestors, but they won’t be active participants like in the animated film. Also, by the look of the teaser, it seems Mulan is not an only child this time, and she has a sister. I wonder what her role is going to be?
V: I completely agree there. If they take out animals like Mushu and Cri-Kee, we can avoid the uncanny valley that their non-human characters have been falling into. It’s interesting that they’re giving her a sister. I have heard that in some versions of the legend Mulan had a younger brother, and her dog in the animated one was named Little Brother in remembrance of that. I suppose there are a lot of different things they could do with this sibling dynamic. I assume that there will still be at least one comedy relief character, even if the overall tone is darker than the animated film.
M: Agreed. Maybe she’s replacing the role of Grandmother Fa, who is nowhere to be seen here, and she served as a comic relief character in the animated film. One thing that struck me as odd but interesting is that, towards the end of the teaser, Mulan is fighting the Huns, but she’s not in disguise. She fights them as a woman. I wonder if those scenes are at the end of the film? Or are they going to reveal her identity early on? I wonder how they’re going to play with that, which makes it even more exciting.
V: I would guess that it would be later on. Mongolia wasn’t as patriarchal a society as China or Japan, and this is reflected even in the animated Mulan. When confronted by Mulan, Shan-Yu addresses her only as “the soldier from the mountain.” However, I can’t imagine the film will play it off as though the Chinese army would simply accept a female soldier.
M: I agree, and that’s a crucial part of the story. I also hope that, musically, Harry Gregson-Williams does something different with the score. I love Jerry Goldsmith’s score from the animated film, but I think this one would be better served if it has a new and different sound altogether. Jerry Goldsmith is no longer with us, but I think that could benefit this film because it won’t have to recycle the scores of the animated movies like the other remakes, where they have Alan Menken and Hans Zimmer going over the same music again and again.
V: I agree. I’m not super familiar with Gregson-Williams, but Goldsmith was a master. His score for the animated film is nuanced and extremely underrated, in my opinion. The score is like any other aspect, in that I’m going to enjoy this movie more if they make something new, rather than copying a film we already know and love.
M: Exactly. I don’t understand people that are complaining about Mushu not being in the film. Why do they want the exact same movie? They already have the animated one to watch endlessly. I’m ready for a new take, not a lazy retread into old territory.
V: I agree completely.
M: Overall, the new Mulan looks promising. From the first teaser, it seems that it’s going to be a different take from the animated film. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be good (see: Maleficent), but at least, I appreciate the fact that they’re attempting to tell this story in another way from what we’ve seen before. I’m cautiously optimistic about it. What do you think about the new Mulan film? What do you think of the teaser? Let us know in the comments!