For a low budget movie, this was an actually amazing movie!
This is a ridiculous, over the top and heavily artistic movie, but it was done so well that I can't help but give it 5 stars. The movie aesthetic is incredibly niche, so this movie will not be for most people, but it takes a very elevated take on a dystopian film. The acting is disjointed, but the aesthetic of the movie is meant to be disjointed so even the less than average acting (with a few standout professionals doing a fantastic job in their roles) adds to the holistic movie quality. If you are a fan of movies like the city of ember or holy mountain, then i think you will like this movie alot.
For an explanation on the aesthetic...imagine a radical leftists dream utopia...but taken in through a very subtle satirical lens. It is meant to be ridiculous in all the best of ways. It also carries some profound social contemporary commentary in a very subtle and non-pushy manner. Fantastic movie!
How did Disney mess this up so much? To put it simply, this is a movie that had such a high special effects budget that they revolved storyline and plots around justifying the use of these effects...which is a problem. Everything that made the original Mulan great was just not there. They incorporated virtues like loyalty and honor into the movie, yet they were not really substantiated by the film. Like, if you fail the training camp, you get sent home...so why did Mulan take her father's place to save his life if....worst case....he would have been sent home? It doesn't make sense. But aside from plot holes, weak character development and overall story development, the worst element was turning Mulan into a superhuman. She is in touch with her "qi" and that pretty much makes her invincible and everyone else relatively foolish.
The original Mulan is a classic for a few reasons...Its character growth, overcoming adversity and hardships through will and virtue; touching scenes that hold critical value to the film while also being of pure artistic value (like when Mulan makes the choice to run away from home); realistic and romantic ideals that many coming of age children will have and already have learned to appreciate; a gruff villain with a simple relationship with the protagonist, but one that drives the protagonist to overcome trials and tribulations; Some catchy musical numbers that add another depth and layer to an already fantastic and balanced animated film.
The new Mulan has NONE of this. Characters are inherently either strong or not (Mulan was pretty much a superhero since being a child), Mulan's growth an journey is dictated by a witch whose only real purpose is to add magical effects to things (every other purpose being relatively impact-less to the movie if you had them removed) and the results of her "transformation" has no real relevance to the story (She decides to come out as a woman, still does what she could have done the whole time as a man, gets kicked out of the army and then there is a 180 flip and its agreed she'll lead the army because she....is...a woman?), there are NO heartbreaking or touching moments because though there were attempts at this, the story line and character development makes alot of scenes seem forced or redundant and only existing so you could say this movie is "Mulan" and not "Star Wars, rise of China"; the ideals and virtues are constant themes that hold no real purpose or value (since the protagonist is already a super heroine who could probably beat up the antagonist immediately, but fails because the movie would be too short if she didn't)...and the romance....come on...; the villain makes little sense and is just the stereotypical crude male with anger issues and an abusive relationship with his almighty witch who has for some reason pledged loyalty to him...; no musical numbers or really anything to add any layers or polish to this film. What I will say though is that the special effects are fantastic! ... because as everyone knows, the reason you buy a cake isn't for the taste of the cake, but because the cake looks cool. Acting was either stiff or good, so i'll give it to Disney that the cast seems relatively decent to good, but an actor can only save a movie to an extent with good acting.
I would give this movie 0 out of 5 stars just because its such a let down given every opportunity and extensive budget it had.
It was a really fantastic movie. The plot was simple, but between the acting and the development, it really told a sad and stunning story of torture and cruelty. There are certainly elements in the movie which are not spoon fed to the viewer, but that adds to the movie. I can't help but believe the reason this movie gets such a low rating from viewers is precisely because you need to have a certain intellect and love of the abstract to appreciate this story.