Mulan, a remake of the 1998 animated feature, was originally intended for release in the U.S. in March

By Ally Mauch
September 04, 2020 12:50 PM
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Lui as Mulan.
| Credit: Jasin Boland/Disney

The new Mulan live-action remake has arrived on Disney+ for streaming — and the reviews are in.

Critics are calling the film one of the "best of the live-action remakes" from Disney, but many have lamented that viewers will not be able to see the visually “stunning” movie on the big screen amid the current coronavirus pandemic.

Mulan, directed by Niki Caro and starring Chinese actress Yifei Liu as the titular character, was originally intended for release in the U.S. in March but Disney postponed the debut as the pandemic shut down countries around the world. The company then pushed the date back to July, before it settled on the Sept. 4 release date on Disney+.

Mulan is the best of the live-action remakes so far, so the fact that it is always going to have the specter of ‘straight to [Premium Video On Demand]’ hanging over its head is a shame,” critic Kaitlyn Booth wrote. “This cast and crew put out a great movie that is absolutely worth the price.”

Inkoo Kang, of The Hollywood Reporter, similarly shared that “moviegoers lost out on the chance to partake in an infinite visual feast” in not being able to see Mulan in theaters.

“From its opening scenes, which take place in a multistory, walled town filled with dozens of colorfully dressed extras in traditional garb, Mulan is never not a delight for the eyes — it wouldn’t even occur to the film to stop stunning,” Kang added.

Other critics noted how Mulan differs from the classic 1998 animated feature, with NPR’s Justin Chang writing that “Mulan aspires to be more than an exact replica of the animated original.”

Yifei Liu in Mulan
| Credit: Disney Enterprises

Some of the changes include the removal of Mushu, the fast-talking dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy in the original film, and the songs. “That's a bit of a shame, frankly: The stiffly earnest script could have used a little more showbiz pizazz,” Chang added of the movie’s “serious tone.”

Critic Katie Erbland, however, wrote that “Caro’s ability to combine different tones” was successful, later adding that Mulan “is perhaps the best example of how to marry the original with something fresh” when compared to Disney’s other live-action remakes.

Mulan is a film bolstered by a series of jaw-dropping, wuxia-inflected fighting sequences that are genuinely thrilling,” Erbland wrote for IndieWire, sharing that the film “is a true action epic.”