Disney+ changed the movie industry yesterday when it released its $200M live action adaption of MULAN on its streaming platform instead of theatres.
At $30, it cost less for us to rent and watch on the big screen at home than it would have for 5 of us to go to any theatre and I love this option. That being said, there are many films that I would only see on a big screen first, like OO7's "No Time To Die" or the latest big-screen Marvel saga.
So how is the film? Having not seen the original animated version, I walked in with zero preconceived notions and really enjoyed it.
A big budget, large scale action epic, its beautiful to look at and squeezes in plenty of smaller family drama along the way.
Yifei Liu stars as Mulan, a spirited daughter at a time when women had very defined roles in Imperial China.
The Emperor (Jet Li is back on screen!) faces a massive threat from lethal warrior Bori Khan (Jason Scott Lee who played Bruce Lee in "Dragon") and the evil sorceress Xianlang (Li Gong of "Memoirs of a Geisha"). As they lead a massive army aided by the witch's evil powers across the lands, The Emperor commands that one man from each family come to join his forces.
With her aging father (Tzi Ma from "Arrival") barely able to walk, Mulan sneaks away in the night and pretends to me a man, joining the Imperial forces.
There are comic and dramatic moments as she keeps her deception up during training. Some of her fellow recruits shine in both comic relief (newcomer Jun Yu as Cricket) and romantic interest (Yosan An as Honghui).
There are plenty of family friendly (no blood) violent battles, inspirational commitment to country and family and moments of personal triumph.
Filmed in New Zealand, the final battle reminded me of some of the warring armies of Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" films. The camera work, sets and costumes reflect the huge budget.
Jonah said he missed the "funny dragon from the cartoon version", but he never moved from the couch during the nearly two hour running time.
As an opening day streaming experience, it was a winner. As a movie, it gets a solid B from me. Yifei Liu is excellent in the title role and is an actress to watch. She reportedly did about 90% of her own stunts and martial arts, while bringing a classic Disney character to life. Not easy...and well done.