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Review: Mulan – “A pretty sumptuous film”

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Just as we sat down to start Mulan I felt something I never thought I’d feel… I felt sorry for Disney.

I know, I know.

But I honestly think they’ve been really fair with Mulan and it’s release strategy. They’ve listened to feedback, dropped the price (in the U.K. at least) and even confirmed it will be available in December for “free”.

I think people have used it as a chance to just have a pop. For years of dominance, it’s a good chance to lash out. I totally understand how flying solo, £19.99 still feels steep. But for a family, or anyone intending to watch it more than once, it represents excellent value.

Less so if you can wait 8 weeks, but of course you’ll still need to pay your subscription to see it. Let’s not act like Disney would’ve needed additional subscriptions to show this for “free” initially. That’s just not how it works.

Billion-dollar company or not, the economics mean they’ve got an asset and the asset is worth a price. They’ve got to try and get what they can back for it. £19.99 is what they’ve come up with.

Let’s not act like anyone is going to boycott them when the second season of The Mandalorian drops on the 30th October. Or when Black Widow finally releases. Another reason they need a pricing structure, as they’ve set precedent now.

So… what do you actually get for £19.99?

Well, honestly, you get a pretty sumptuous film.

From the opening scenes you ache for the cinema, as however big you watch/project, this would’ve looked glorious, but we said that about Greyhound as well — when it dropped from nowhere on AppleTV+

I’m sad to say we’ll likely say it about many more until this whole pandemic thing finally blows over. Meet you in 2022?

The use of colour is fantastic, and whilst watching, I slyly checked if I own The Last Emperor. I do and will frantically carve out the 4 hours needed to rewatch ASAP, because these vistas… wow! Who needs science fiction landscapes? It looks stunning.

The story, as you likely know, is all about a female warrior posing as a male, in a male-dominated society. In this version she’s not just equal — she’s superior. As a warrior. As a leader. As someone that can climb walls and remind us all that wuxia films really do need a comeback.

The scale is mind-blowing at times and I’ll forgive anyone frustrated they can’t see this as big as they should be able too. Yet for every one of those, there’s another blaming Nolan and TENET for giving The Batman COVID!

Joe Chill, indeed. 2020. There are no winners.

The film plays nicely on the male/female divide. Covering some interesting scenarios, such as: how will Mulan shower? How will Mulan sleep? What happens when Mulan cleans in a lake, to avoid the male gaze, even though a male follows her there? It’s done pretty tastefully, to be fair, but you’re often reminded this ain’t no cartoon.

The fight scenes are fantastic, but it all feels a level up from “kids film.” Making my argument that families will sit and watch as potentially null and void. My 5-year-old, as I expected, just wouldn’t accept the lack of Eddie Murphy voicing a Dragon. No matter how pretty the Phoenix was.

As it ended my initial thought was the relief I’d finally seen another BIG film.

TENET and this in a two week period is big news for film. However you view it. Throw in Netflix and Prime pumping out new content. Bond rolling back to November. There’s suddenly hope.

But, as ever, caution is needed. I keep thinking back to being locked down for 100+ days when no new films was the reality.

We should celebrate any new ones we get. Especially this year.

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