Disney makes good animated features, but once in a long while Disney will create a great animated feature. Mulan fits into the latter category. There’s nothing to criticize Mulan about, so this Don’t Miss film will get a shorter review than most films.
The animation for Mulan is stunning, to say the least. It’s a mix of highly detailed backgrounds, computer generated special effects, and simplified-yet-detailed characters all blended to give a sense of grandeur. The main characters are all well done.
Mulan is an ancient Chinese tale about a young woman who takes her father’s place in the Imperial army. Mulan’s father is old, fragile, and has a bad leg - he is also the only man in the Fa family. The Imperial army is in need of more men to fight the incoming Huns; each family from each village, by the order of the Emperor of China, will send one man to fight for the army.
Mulan’s father had already fought in one war and Mulan sees no reason that he should go fight again. So, late one night Mulan cuts her hair, steals her father’s armor, and goes off to join the army for the Fa family. Protecting Mulan is Mushu, a small dragon who is trying to prove himself to the spirits of the Fa family.
Ming-Na Wen (One Night Stand, The Joy Luck Club) is the voice talent for the character Mulan. Wen does a wonderful job with Mulan. The voice I loved the most was Eddie Murphy’s Mushu the dragon, and he is hilarious. Murphy’s Mushu is to Mulan what Robin William’s Genie was to Aladdin.
With Disney animated features it’s not just the animation that counts, it’s also the music. With the score done by Jerry Goldsmith and the lyrics by Matthew Wilder, Mulan is one of the best sounding Disney features. I liked Hercules, but Mulan beats Hercules by a long shot.
One thing I’d like to mention. At first when I saw the previews for Mulan, I thought that Disney had messed up and not studied up enough for the costumes. I wondered, “Why are all the Chinese people dressed like that? Why are they dressed in Japanese-like kimonos?” I found out later from my mom that Disney had done their homework and the costumes were consistent with the period.
Let’s not forget why Disney’s animated features are so popular; they are written on two levels one for children and one for adults. For children, Mulan is the perfect film. It’s funny and it has cute characters (including Mushu the dragon, a cool horse, a funny dog, and a cricket.) For the adults, Mulan has a story rich enough with well-written characters and action that will entertain you for its full running time.
Kudos to the handful of writers for putting together a wonderfully entertaining film with enough laughs to keep us interested - but also well developed and emotional characters to round out the film.
Don’t Miss Mulan. This is the best Disney animated feature since The Lion King. Mulan is not just for kids either, adults can go and enjoy a well-written and funny movie.
Edited by Cher Johnson.