(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from the 2020 remake of Mulan. Before that, we are shown the image of Doug Walker's first review of the remake, including the word "Dishonor!!!")
Doug (vo): Well, some time has passed since my less-than-positive review of the remake of Mulan. That begs the question, have I softened at all on the movie? Has it gotten better the more I let time pass? And the answer is...not really. When I did my first V-log review, I was so afraid people were gonna come after me, because I knew that Mulan had this big fanbase. I thought people were gonna be so pissed off that I didn't enjoy this, and much to my shock, most people agreed with me. Despite a lot of critics enjoying it, most Disney fans did not get into this. And I think part of the reason is, on paper, this is not a bad idea.
Story[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): This version of Mulan is pretty similar to the animated one in terms of the same beats. A giant army is attacking China, one male from every household must be drafted to fight them, an aging father of two daughters now...don't ask what the point of that is, I don't know either...is told he has to go, but his oldest daughter, Mulan, pretends to be a boy and joins instead. Through much training, she'll become a powerful warrior in comparison to...the powerful warrior she already was...yeah, we'll get to that in a minute...and she'll figure out how to defeat this army while keeping her secret...kind of. We'll get to that, too.
Review[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo): From the minute this film was announced, it had promise. They weren't gonna do songs, it wasn't gonna have comic relief, it was gonna be taken a lot more seriously, and honestly, that's kind of what I was looking for with the original Mulan. I like the original Mulan fine, but I kind of wanted this big, epic story on the level of, say, Lion King or Hunchback. But it played more like a comedy, which is fine. That's why we have films like this, to give a different point of view. The cinematography looked fantastic, the casting was great, with Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, and so many others, the director had pretty much done this story flawlessly before, so everything was set. (The poster for Whale Rider is shown) But it's almost like Mickey's gloved hand put his paw on this film and said... (Mimics Mickey Mouse) "Uh-uh-uh! Disney remake!" (normal voice) And it fell victim to this checklist that now these awful films have to meet.
(Clips focusing on the remake's version of Mulan are shown)
Doug (vo): The main character, if female, can have no flaws. This can be fine in other stories if it matches their journey, but that's not what Mulan's journey was about. She, right off the bat, has great chi, and even though they say chi a lot in this, I don't think they ever fully explain what it is, or if they do, they don't do that great a job. So rather than training with all the other soldiers to become this great warrior, she's already a great warrior, she can just become even better. In fact, the moral of the story is, "Don't hide that you're a girl. She was wrong for doing so." In fact, after the big avalanche scene, she isn't discovered that she's female, she just comes out and says it. "Don't hide who you are, girl! You're strong!" Um...okay. If...she just went up to this army and said, "I'm a girl, I want to join", they say no. Well, she'd have to be persistent and insist even more. Well, okay, then they just kill her. She had to hide in order for victory to happen, but that doesn't match our "girl power" quota. Well...too bad! Do you think a bunch of female spies shouted "I can't lie anymore" and got shot in the middle of war? No! There's times when you need to keep secrets! There's strength in revealing yourself at the right time. And, news flash, there's more than one female archetype.
(As more footage of Mulan continues to show, we are shown brief clips of female main characters from other Disney remakes, as well as images of main female characters from the Star Wars sequel trilogy and Wonder Woman)
Doug (vo): Mulan is the same as Belle, and Nala, and Cinderella, and Jasmine...okay, Jasmine was done pretty good...but, no! Fuck that! I think that was the actress, I think she's what made that role good. This actress, whether it was producer notes or director notes or maybe there just wasn't much there at all, is so stoic, she's beyond boring. I thought back to Rey in Force Awakens and how, yeah, she was kind of this perfect warrior, too, but she was passionate, she was afraid, she was happy, she'd get angry, she'd get giddy, you connected with her very quickly. Same thing with Wonder Woman. She was literally molded to perfection. That is her origin story. Yet, there's so many great scenes with her, trying on the dresses, having ice cream for the first time, getting on that battlefield saying, "No, I can't watch people die anymore." Good God! How inspiring! This character has the same reaction for everything. There's literally a scene where she says, "I'd rather die." And I have...no idea how she means that. Is she actually saying that like she wants to be executed, or just saying it as a figure of speech, like, "No, please don't drop me from the army"? I have no idea, because the film is that bland.
(Various clips resume showing)
Doug (vo): And the saddest irony of all of this is, this is still probably one of the better Disney remakes. I mean, I'm not laughing at how bad it is, it's not turning villains into good guys for absolutely no reason, the dialogue isn't insultingly bad. Actually, I kind of like the scenes when they're training, and they actually use some legit philosophies of battle. It looks nice, it has good atmosphere, and like I said, the initial idea of this isn't that bad. I was really hoping this would be the Disney remake I would love. But, no. They had to start off their main character as Super Woman, because...girl power.
(More clips of Mulan are shown, as well as footage from other Disney remakes and their original films, including the original Mulan, plus some images of the Disney Princesses and other female main characters from various films and TV shows)
Doug (vo): Okay, let me tell you something. We're not falling short of strong women. I don't know why you think we are, Disney, but we're not. There's tons of women and girls, both in reality and in fiction, that are doing amazing things. And they usually have amazing stories. What we are falling short of, at least from you, is the journey of the strong woman. You can say whatever inspiring buzzwords you want in Cinderella, but at the end of the day, the original tried to get out, she tried to save herself. She doesn't just twirl around in her bedroom, waiting for someone to do the work for her. Belle is not an ingenious inventor trying to change the world around her, she's just someone who did what she wanted and didn't conform to the norm. Nala isn't some goal-focused revolutionary who barely says hi to her best friend she thought was dead, she's someone who fled to get help and is shocked that a part of her past she thought was gone forever has returned. And Mulan wasn't fighting to be the ultimate warrior, she was fighting to save her father's life, despite her having no idea how to fight. That's part of what makes her character and this story so engaging. These are all elements every girl, every woman, everyONE can identify with. And they are not being represented in these remakes, probably because you're afraid to show they have any flaws. These are stories that require the main characters to have flaws so they can overcome them. A lot of famous characters have them. Batman has them, Indiana Jones has them, Steven Universe has them. But when you're telling kids, "Wake up perfect like our female leads", which ironically feeds into that stereotype of the perfect woman I think you're trying to fight against, you're doing a disservice. I'm not gonna act like all of these women are without problems, but most of them still had memorable journeys and personalities. This Mulan doesn't.
Final thought[edit | edit source]
Doug (vo; sighs): I don't know. I feel like if these other Disney remakes hadn't come out, maybe I wouldn't be so hard on Mulan, maybe I'd just see it as an "eh" movie, honestly, like several people do. But I've just seen so many characters that I've looked up to butchered by these live-action versions in disguise of progress. And, yeah, I just kind of get sick of it. I don't like Alice because she wore armor, I like her because she was inquisitive and kind of funny and reacted perfectly to what the story and world needed. This story and world needed the original Mulan, and instead, we got Anakin Skywalker with even less emotion. I didn't even think that was possible. But, (Sighs) I also get people that just put these movies on, because, hey, it's a way to distract kids for a little bit, and it's trying to tell a good message, girl power, yeah, you know, be tough, all that stuff, and I don't know, I guess kids aren't really gonna think that hard about what's being taught to them or the layers to it or anything like that. But...why would you put this on when there is a story that does teach all of that, one that's not perfect, but has clearly made more of a connection than this remake ever will? (Sighs) I was hoping to do this review a bit more calm and relaxed, but I think that Disney remake fatigue is just finally hitting me, and it already hit me pretty hard in the past. I guess I just felt like this would be the one, this is the one where everything was laid out, they were gonna get it right, it was practically made for you. And who knows? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe years later, we'll see this as some sort of grand, underrated masterpiece, or maybe this is what the director had in mind all along and Disney played so little a part in affecting it. But...have you seen Whale Rider? Have you seen the journey that girl had to go through? I don't see any of that here. And if that's what you're searching for, pack up, go home, you're through.
(A scene showing Mulan riding on her horse through a grassy field is shown)