Mulan ★★

Underwhelming and uninspired, Mulan (2020) is a real disappointment. The cast is game, the photography is pretty, the sets are big, but the film isn't able to competently tell a story. Running two hours long, somehow the film has less character development and character building moments than its ninety minute, animated musical counterpart. Right when it seems to get going, it starts to end. There's something about the generation of filmmakers who are forty to fifty-five in America that seem to either not be able to grasp that storytelling is more than a large group of scenes that consist of a beginning, middle, and end or they begin to experience diminishing returns. I'm really not sure what it is but these new American filmmakers who are starting to gain prominence in Hollywood just aren't able to tell a sustained story most of the time. Mulan should be an easy win, it's got action, romance, big battle scenes, magic, etc., and it even has a prior American version that was pretty solid that it could copy yet this one doesn't succeed. You know there's big problems where the film features architecture and costumes that are off by centuries from the time period of the original folktale and the film's portrayal of qi/ch'i is identical to the force from star wars. It doesn't help that Mulan herself has no genuine growth from beginning to end and no real struggle and is pretty much born all powerful. The film's two big battles are also very tiny in brevity and scope and they pale in comparison to the kind of filmmaking featured in so many of China's ever-popular and enduring Wuxia films. All in all, you might as well watch one of those instead of Mulan (2020) because most are great unlike this American knockoff.

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