These are the qualities in a great role model, and these are the qualities we see in Hua Mulan, the heroine in the latest live-action Disney Princess film.
While there are plenty of opinions going around regarding the 2020 Mulan movie — and while Disney’s live-action remakes can be pretty polarizing in general — one thing’s for certain, at least in my opinion. Mulan is most definitely worth a watch, even if that means paying around $30 to see it on Disney+.
Mulan (2020) Review
Mulan tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who would do anything for her family. Just like in the 90s animated film, the live-action version shows how Mulan disguises herself as a man (or rather, as her father’s son instead of his daughter) in order to serve in the Imperial Army in her father’s place. She faces adversity, challenges herself beyond belief, fights in a war, and ultimately saves China.
But the 2020 film pushes boundaries and reveals so much more than the 90s version. In this live-action visual masterpiece, we see one woman’s journey of self-acceptance and growth. We see her accomplish things she was told she never could. And it is through this story that we get one of the most powerful role models in Disney movie history — not only a role model for young girls, but for all genders, and people of all ages who have never truly felt like they fit in or who struggled with doubt all their lives.
Mulan herself was part of a new era of Disney Princesses back when her story was first told in animation. But the animated character of Mulan walked to her live-action counterpart could run — or even fly.
I truly enjoyed this film, from its stunning visuals to its exceptional characters. The timeless story was brought to life in an excellent way. But I was able to view this film alongside my long-term partner (who is Chinese). His review provided me with an extra layer of cultural context that I likely would not have experienced, had I viewed the movie alone. We discussed Mulan together, as we always do after watching movies, and I was able to hear why he values this film and this story being told. That (in combination with the fact that I think Mulan is one of the coolest characters in Disney history) led me to appreciate this film even more.
Is $29.99 a Reasonable Price for Premier Access?
Disney announced this summer that Mulan would be coming to Disney+ on September 4 in a premier access program. That means that for $29.99 in the U.S. (and for varying prices in other markets), Disney+ subscribers can get early access to Mulan on their Disney+ accounts. This price will allow for Disney+ subscribers to watch the film as many times as they want once they pay the fee — and the film will arrive on the streaming service for everyone else at a later date.
When the price of Mulan premier access was announced, many Disney fans, Disney+ subscribers, and movie buffs in general were wondering why the cost was so steep for a movie on a streaming platform. But digging a little deeper and giving it some more thought, the price may actually make more sense than we think.
First, you get to watch it as many times as you want. The premier access fee means that the film is arriving on your personal Disney+ account early. So if you love the movie after you watch it, you get to rewatch it over and over again, unlike a pay-per-view or rental service.
Additionally, even though $29.99 is a steep price for a single movie ticket, that’s truly not the case here. Yes, many of us movie buffs love the atmosphere of a movie theater and value the experience of seeing a film on the big screen for the first time. But with premier access of Mulan on Disney+, you and everyone in your household (or everyone who has a profile on your Disney+ account) can watch this movie. If there are a lot of people in your household or if you share your Disney+ account with 6 people or more, then the per-person cost of viewing Mulan for the first time is far less than that of a movie ticket.
Yes, you can wait three months to see Mulan on Disney+ for no additional charge. But we’ve already waited several months to see it, and I’d encourage anyone to purchase the film on premier access as soon as possible.
Why Mulan is Important
In considering whether or not to pay for premier access of the live-action Mulan film, I urge you to think about the importance of this movie.
Mulan is a mainstream Disney film that retells a story inspired by a Chinese legend, and Chinese stories rarely get told in American film and television. The animated Mulan film brought representation to the big screen and allowed children to see a Chinese Disney heroine and an Asian Disney Princess back in 1998. But now, 20 years later, Mulan has returned, this time with much more historical context in a film that made attempts to truly honor the legend it was based on.
Not only that but now, fans young and old have the opportunity to see this strong female role model in a feature-length, live-action production. Mulan is a young woman who holds her own. She is a courageous person who regards her family in utmost importance, and she is arguably one of the most relatable Disney characters in her vulnerability and realness (not to mention, she’s as “loyal, brave, and true” as they come).
Additionally, this is a historic film for Hollywood in that it is one of the highest budget films being directed by a female filmmaker. Niki Caro is one of only four female filmmakers to direct a movie with a budget of over $100 million.
Many people in Hollywood as well as film fans have criticized the Mulan team as well as Disney for not hiring a director of Chinese descent, noting that there should have been more Asians behind the camera making this movie come to life. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Disney had reportedly wanted an Asian filmmaker to direct the movie — and even Oscar-winning filmmaker Ang Lee had to pass on the movie due to scheduling conflicts. Ultimately, Caro took on the role.
Overall, when deciding to purchase Mulan on premier access, I implore you to vote with your dollar. In my opinion, it is highly important for stories like these to be told. Mulan has brought Chinese culture to life on the big screen, and it tells a story of a strong, independent, admirable female character that we don’t often get to see. I know I want to see more characters like Mulan in the future.
Editor’s Note: The opinion’s expressed in this review do not necessarily reflect those of Inside the Magic overall.