“The girl became a soldier. The soldier became a leader. And the leader became a legend.” Disney’s live-action Mulan is NOT the animated classic you grew up with. Does this adaptation live up to its hype? Is Mulan 2020 kid-friendly? I’m breaking down all of the thematic elements in my live action Mulan Parent Movie Review to help YOU decide if it’s appropriate for kids. As always, no spoilers!
Disney’s Live Action Mulan Parent Movie Review
Disney is back at it with the live-action films. This time, it’s Mulan’s turn. Before you start groaning about “another classic remake,” I’m going to jump right in and tell you, this isn’t the Mulan you’re expecting. For starters, there is absolutely NO music. Shocking, I know. There is also NO Mushu! That’s correct. Mulan’s trusty sidekick is not in this film. I have heard some say there is no love interest, however, I disagree with that and will come back to that one later.
You need to forget about the animated version, at least while you’re watching the live-action Mulan. You cannot possibly compare the two, because this is NOT a retelling. This is a re-imagined version focusing on the legend of Mulan. It is filled with inspiration, and beautiful picturesque cinematography.
Are there nods to the animated movie? Absolutely. But the fact that it’s NOT exactly the same is exactly why it’s even MORE powerful.
The film opens with Mulan as a young girl. We get to see a vibrant child who is boisterous and full of life. Mulan has a very close relationship with her father. It is evident how much she admires and looks up to him. She is dedicated to practicing and perfecting her “chi.”
She is not like the other village children, and you can see their eyes light up with delight when they see Mulan’s strength. They look at her as inspiring, while the village women look at her disapprovingly. After all, little girls are supposed to hide their chi. Mulan defies those norms as a child, until her father explains specific gender roles within the family to her. Girls are not supposed to be brave and strong.
I appreciated getting a glimpse into Mulan’s childhood. It was the perfect opening to see where she came from, and how she gets to where she’s going. Ultimately Mulan is on a journey towards self discovery. There are so many important messages tucked within this film.
The live-action Mulan’s cinematography is stunning. China’s landscapes are captured beautifully. The soldiers training is choreographed so brilliantly. I had to remind myself these “men’ were training for battle and not practicing a routine. Even the war scenes are so exceptionally well-done. They were not your over-the-top fighting scenes. They showed more emotion and less blood. Mulan is truly a visual masterpiece.
Mulan Celebrates Being True to Yourself
The theme of believing in yourself and being true to who you really are, is evident in Mulan 2020. There is a major dose of girl power in this movie. I think it’s important that all little girls and boys can have a role model warrior like Mulan. Girls need to see themselves as strong and independent. Mulan is fierce. She’s empowering. She’s brave and she’s determined. Mulan’s journey towards self- discovery and being true to herself is inspiring to all of us.
Xian Lang(referred to as the witch), is a very important character. She considers her and Mulan the same. Xian Lang tells Mulan, “You will die pretending to be someone you’re not.” I feel Mulan takes that statement to heart. It guides her on her path to finding herself and embracing it.
I know there was A LOT of controversy over Mulan NOT cutting her hair like she does in the animated film. However, I don’t think it was needed. I feel she stayed true to herself with her long flowing locks, and dare I say it made her even more empowering.
What does the Phoenix Symbolize in Mulan?
While there is no Mushu in Mulan, there is a phoenix that appears at all the right moments. I looked up what a phoenix symbolizes and here’s what I found: “The phoenix is the ultimate symbol of strength and renewal.” This couldn’t describe Mulan’s journey better. I felt that Mulan is ultimately the Phoenix.
Is Disney’s Live-Action Mulan Kid-Friendly?
Mulan is Disney’s first ever live-action film rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, and rightfully so. This is a movie about WAR. It has a running time of 115 minutes, which might be hard on the little ones. The beauty about this film is you’re watching it in the comfort of your home…perfect for those antsy kiddos who need to move around a bit. Let’s take a closer look at this PG-13 rating.
Violence: This is a movie about war. There is obviously violence. You will see lots of weapons, swords, bows and arrows, and fighting. There isn’t really any blood or gore though. I didn’t find it overly graphic. You did see dead soldiers. If your children are sensitive to violent themes, they could have difficulty watching Mulan. With that being said, I found the Marvel and Star Wars films much more intense.
Language: None whatsoever.
Adult Themes: Mulan bathes in the lake just like she does in the animated film, but you don’t see anything. There’s also a scene where a man drops his pants, but again, nothing to see. Mulan’s love interest in the original, Li Shang, is not in this version. However, there is absolutely some chemistry between Mulan and the character Honghui. It was subtle, but it was definitely there.
Age Recommendation: Both of my children, ages 6 and 10 watched Mulan. My 10 year old enjoyed every single second. My 6 year old? Well, he liked it a little bit, but it was really too long for him. He watched it while bouncing around the room and eating copious amounts of snacks. I’d recommend Mulan for ages 8 and up, however, older children might appreciate it and what it represents more.
Should you pay $30 to see the live-action Mulan on Disney+ with Premier Access?
Mulan is available to stream on Disney+ with Premier Access for $30. Is it worth the price tag, or should you wait until you can stream it for free in December? Our family obviously purchased it without giving it a second thought. We would have seen this movie in the theaters (thanks Covid), and spent at least $50 for our family of four.
Purchasing it on Disney Plus allows us to watch the movie as many times as we’d like, as long as our Disney+ account remains active. This is not a one time rental. I think it’s absolutely worth the price and more. I’m sad we cannot see this movie on the big screen to appreciate its beauty even more. If you were planning on seeing this movie in theaters, I’d encourage you to support this film on Disney Plus.
Disney’s live-action Mulan is NOT your classic animated version. And you know what? That’s what makes it so good! It’s a brand new story with a sprinkle of the original thrown in. It is a very moving and inspiring story. One that will encourage all of us the power of being true to ourselves, and accepting others for who they are. “Loyal. Brave. True.” Those words were inscribed on Mulan’s fathers sword. This re-imagined version of Mulan will encourage children to rise up and represent those words.
Disney’s Live-Action Mulan Synopsis
Acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro brings the epic tale of China’s legendary warrior to life in Disney’s “Mulan,” in which a fearless young woman risks everything out of love for her family and her country to become one of the greatest warriors China has ever known.
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
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I hope you found my live-action Mulan parent movie review helpful. Will you be watching Disney’s latest film?
Celebrate the release of Mulan with this printable activity packet!
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