March 27, 1999Jen,
I agree with your rating of the Disney movie, Mulan. It was not perfect, but it is definitely worth owning on video, even if you do not have children.
There are a few things about the movie that I would like to point out, that you did not mention in your review. Number one is the spectacular battle sequence that is the centerpiece of the movie. I never thought I'd see anything in conventional animation to compare with the wildebeast stampede in The Lion King, but Disney managed to top themselves with this one. Every horse and rider leaves footprints in the snow, and casts shadows upon the ground. The aerial view of the hawk overhead, panning from the massing hordes to the Hun leader out in front is beautiful. The avalanche that sweeps away the enemy is breathtaking. The movie is worth the price of a rental simply for that scene alone.
Secondly, the movie is beautifully drawn. It has the look of a watercolor and reminds of those gorgeous screens behind which a modest gal can undress. The cherry blossoms, the fireworks, the mountains behind the mist in the background...all were rendered with loving detail. I appreciate that.
Thirdly, Mushu was actually an asset to the movie. I remember seeing the previews for this one and rolling my eyes, thinking, "Great. A jive-talking dragon. I can't wait." But he is cute and held my daughter's attention, and Murphy surprised me by making him sweetly soft-spoken at times. And as a guilty pleasure, I love watching the scene in which Mulan's horse stomps on Mushu repeatedly, leaving him all tweaked and bent. I always rewind it and watch that part two or three times.
Lastly, as the mother of a little girl, I love the message that Mulan sends to both girls and boys. My daughter has no concept of a world in which girls are not encouraged to become anything they aspire to be. She has been told from day one, by her parents, her teachers, the media, that girls can do anything. Mulan teaches her that while, yes, that is true, it wasn't always like that. The only reason she is afforded such ignorance is due to the women who came before her, who had to fight tooth and nail for what she now takes for granted. Of course, that message is overt to an adult viewer, but between all the songs, all the sight gags, and all the action, it subliminally sinks into a child's mind. She learned a little something without even realizing it.
The one thing I really disliked about the movie was the very ending. Why in the world would ancient Chinese spirits suddenly start dancing hip-hop style to Stevie Wonder? I like the song. It's very catchy and upbeat. But it's appallingly out of place, obviously designed to appeal to little kids who idolize Puffy and Will Smith. Give me a break.-- Jen
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my review. And congratulations on being the first person to submit comments to AboutFilm.Com. I whole-heartedly agree with everything you wrote about Mulan, particularly about the battle sequence and the message the movie sends to children. I probably should have mentioned both in my review. The last scene bothered me a bit, too. Musically, Mulan could have been so much more than it was.
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