“Let’s get down to business.” And with that edict, Disney’s rendition of a Chinese legend gives us one of the best stories of female empowerment from the 1990s with “Mulan.” The film tells the tale of Fa Mulan, a girl who is thought to be bringing shame on her family because she doesn’t seem to fit in with her village’s way of life. But when one man from every family must go to war, she pretends to be the man representing her family because her father has previously been injured in war. She learns to be a soldier and ends up saving her commanding officer, but when she’s injured, she’s revealed to be a woman. She still finds a way to save China and the Emperor from the Huns and is seen as an honor to her family.
As I’ve been watching the Disney films in release order, this stretch of films has reminded me just how great the Disney Renaissance actually was. Every film has been great so far from “The Little Mermaid” all the way through “Mulan.” And I’ve already reviewed the next film in line, “Tarzan,” when it was added to Disney+ in the US last year, and it continues the string of greatness during this time period. Yes, the Disney Renaissance took a formula and used it for basically every film, “The Rescuers Down Under” being the exception, but it was a formula that worked every single time.
While “I’ll Make A Man Out of You” is a great song, the music is the weakest part of this film, which really goes to show you how strong this film is. The score is excellent and drives the film in crucial parts, but the rest of the songs are a bit of let down compared to other films of the Renaissance. I know “Reflection” is loved by many, and I appreciate it, but I don’t feel that it compares to other songs from this time period. The music isn’t bad, but after such great music from Howard Ashman, Alan Menken and Sir Elton John, a lot of this music feels just not quite as good. It’s still better than a lot of music that came before the Renaissance and after it, so don’t take this critique too harshly. The music is still really good, just not as good as others.
This film is great. This era of Disney animation is great. I really wish all of the eras of Disney animation could churn out hit after hit like this era did. There are better movies in other eras than “Mulan,” but there are a lot worse too. It’s been a while since I watched this movie before I started this journey through the Walt Disney Animation Studios films, but I’m so happy to have watched this one again. This film is just plain fun.
Ranking: 4 stars
What do you think of “Mulan?”