Mulan Movie Review
Mulan (2020) follows the story of Hua Mulan, the oldest daughter of Hua Zhou who is better at handling a sword than being a proper housewife. When the Emperor decrees that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Mulan steps in to take the place of her injured father. Being that no woman is allowed to be in the army, Mulan must masquerade as a man which has consequences on her abilities to use her chi.
During training she learns what it takes to be a warrior from Commander Tung and her fellow recruits. Before their training is complete, they are called into battle against Bori Khan and the witch Xianniang. This conflict forces Mulan to confront her own lies and decide once and for all if she is willing to sacrifice it all to save China and her family's honor.
Mulan 2020 pulled inspiration from both The Ballad of Mulan and the classic Disney animated film. There are just enough nods to the original to make diehard Disney fans, like myself, happy while bringing enough new material to the screen to make this Mulan feel original.
Visually, this film is gorgeous. From the bright colors of the costumes to the breathtaking sights of China's mainland, you really can get lost in the details. Overall, the cinematography brings something new to the table for these live action remakes while still being pure Disney magic.
(Note: this movie was filmed in New Zealand and China)
Viewers can easily get swept up in the fight scene choreography, swearing they are watching a classic martial arts film and not a movie based on Disney animation. Yifei Liu maneuvers through those moments in a graceful and powerful way. Donnie Yen also proves how the
force chi is with him when he demonstrates to awestruck recruits tactics that are precise, and effortless.
After watching this, I am even more excited for Shang-Chi. Not that I had my doubts, but now I've seen that my confidence in their ability to produce a martial arts is well placed.
Mulan showcases girl power and individuality, lighting a fire within even the youngest viewers. She is poised and sharp, much like her father's sword. She shows us the way to following our own paths and not ones laid out for us by others. Mulan is not a perfect hero and her flaws are our own. But like Mulan, it is what we do with those flaws and our strengths that set us apart from others.
The reasons you loved the original are present in this film, even if Mushu and Li Shang are not. Li Shang's character is present as a combination of Commander Tung and Honghui. The former being her teacher and the latter her awkward friend/possible love interest in the future. Mushu however is not to be found, unless you count the statues of dragons surrounding the Emperor and a few dishonors. I thought I would miss him, but it turns out you can have a Mulan movie without Mushu.
My only real complaint I have is not being able to see this on the big screen. Those beautifully choreographed fight scenes deserve to be seen in IMAX. In fact, if Disney decides to release it further down the road in theaters (when this current nightmare is long gone) I would pay to watch it.
Mulan continues to teach us to be true to ourselves, and by doing so unlocking the power within. When we stand for what is right and protect those who cannot protect themselves, we can all be as heroic as Hua Mulan. I believe there is a Hua Mulan in all of us, just waiting for the opportunity to come out.
Is Mulan safe for kids?
Mulan is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence. This is a movie about a war hero after all. Taking it out of animation and making it real is bound to raise the gravitas of those action scenes we all watched as children.
There is death, with a lot of sword fighting and arrows flying. However, Marvel Studios films have shown more in their PG-13 outings. Nudity is implied when one character drops his towel to Mulan's disgust and when she takes her solo night swim alone to clean herself up. Nothing is seen however and both echo the original animation.
Aside from the violence and suggestion of nudity, there are no bad words or blood and gore. If your children have watched other movies- like any of the MCU titles, they should be fine watching Mulan.
Download your free Mulan activity packet
Is Mulan worth paying for?
Short answer: yes. I paid the $29.99 for premier access for Mulan and I would do it again if I had to. If you are a Disney+ subscriber, your rental of Mulan is with you as long as you have the service. Yes it is coming to Disney+ in December, “free” with your monthly service but why wait?
Long answer: yes. Thirty bucks is barely scratching the surface of what it costs to watch a movie around here. Matinee for two people on any screen that is better than a normal one would run us at least $20 and that's at the “cheap” theater before my husband buys his popcorn and drink. And that's only for one showing, not as many as you want wherever you want. And since this is also a film for the kids to see, $20 is non-existent and we would easily fly pass $30 after it is all said and done.
Mulan is streaming now on Disney+ Premier Access. Runtime is 115 minutes and it is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence.
We love movie Easter eggs aka hidden references around here, and although Mulan was a fresh take on a classic Disney film, it did not disappoint when it came to nostalgia. From Shanghai Disney to A Girl Worth Fighting For, these Mulan easter eggsnare sure to make you smile. Lets get down to business and find all those Mulan Easter eggs you may have missed!
All The Mulan Easter Eggs You May Have Missed
Cue the Disney music and the opening credits. But look closely because that isn't Cinderella's Castle, it is actually the Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland.
Before you start looking, no Mushu does not appear in this movie. You can however find Dragon Statues surrounding the Emperor.
Young Mulan accidentally breaks the wing off of the Phoenix statue. Mushu broke the stone dragon in the original Mulan.
Bori Khan resembles Shan Yu in that he has scars on his face that mimic the drawing of Shan.
Xianniang transforms into a hawk. In the cartoon, a hawk was the pet of Shan Yu.
Mulan's horse is black with white on his nose, just like Khan in the animated film.
Listen for “Honor to us All” instrumental playing in the background when she is getting ready to go to The Matchmaker.
Hidden Mickey: Xiu is wearing her hair up in buns to The Matchmaker, they look like Mickey ears.
During the scene with The Matchmaker, there is an issue with the tea cups and The Matchmaker ends up falling over. This is a callback to the scene in the animated film.
Mulan's outfit in this scene including the hair clip and the extra long sleeves also mirrors the original.
She leaves that same hair clip when she decides to join the army on her father's behalf.
Cri-Kee didn't make it into this version either but she does meet Cricket whom tells her he is a good luck charm.
Li Shang is also not in the film but his character is split between Commander Tung and Honghui.
Mulan has to deal with an awkward towel drop, this time in the barracks instead of the water.
It's not disgrace on your cow but Sergeant Qiang does tell the recruits “Disgrace for you. Disgrace for your family. Disgrace for your village. Disgrace for your country”
read more: Mulan Movie Review
One of the songs missing from this one is “I'll Make a Man Out Of You.” Sergeant Qiang tells the newbies that “We're going to make men out of every single one of you.”
The training montage has a lot of callbacks to the animation, including shooting arrows, standing in awe of Commander Tung's skills with a staff, and carrying water up the hill.
Ling unrolls a scroll with a painting of his match, this is from the animated scene in “A Girl Worth Fighting For.”
The conversation about what type of women they all want references the song “A Girl Worth Fighting For.” Po doesn't care about looks, only what she cooks like. Mulan as Hua Jun speaks of a woman who is courageous, funny, and smart.
Mulan waits until night to bathe alone in the water. But just like in the original, someone shows up for a chat. She undresses by a magnolia tree.
Reflection plays, for the first time, in the background while she practices at night, showing flashbacks to when she was younger. It continues to play as she climbs the mountainside.
Her finally reaching the shrine references her getting to the top of the pole to retrieve the arrow.
During the same scene Reflection plays, Commander Tung says “tranquil as a forest, but on fire within.” This is a direct line from “I'll Make a Man Out Of You.”
The avalanche happened in the original film.
When she sheds Hua Jun and no longer is lying about who she is Reflection plays again as she rides to meet the army. This also is her Phoenix moment. She is reborn.
Her ride, along with the powerful orchestration callbacks another Disney classic- The Lion King when Simba returns home.
Mulan fights Bori Khan on the roof which mirrors her fight with Shan Yu.
Fireworks going off at the end, although this time not set off by Mushu. However there is a dragon seen during the party.
Ming-Na Wen! If you didn't yell out when you saw her at the end introducing Mulan we cannot be friends. If you are uncultured in the ways of Disney royalty, Ming-Na is the original voice of Mulan.
Michaela Zee, Ming-Na Wen's daughter also made a cameo in the same scene. She is the girl in the crowd shown after Mulan declines the Emperor's offer.
Ming-Na's dress also resembles the animated Mulan's green dress she wears before going to The Matchmaker.
Honghui and Mulan have an awkward goodbye. This is keeping with Li Shang's general awkwardness when it came to his feelings for Mulan. The only thing missing was a “you fight good” statement and grandma asking if he wants to stay forever.
Ming-Na wasn't the only Disney veteran. Jason Scott Lee (Bori Khan) voiced David in Lilo & Stitch and played Mowgli in the 1994 The Jungle Book.
Donnie Yen (Commander Tung) also played one of my favorite characters in Rogue One, Chirrut Imwe.
The One and Only Ivan Review
“Hi I'm Ivan.” The film starts out with Ivan introducing himself and his home, a circus located at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. Ivan lives there along with the older elephant Stella, dog Snickers, chicken Henrietta, rabbit Murphy, seal Frankie, and parrot Thelma. He seems pretty content with his lot in life, he is the star of the show and doesn't dream about what his life was like before humans entered it.
That all starts to change when along with his best friend, a stray dog named Bob, begins telling stories to the newest member of the Big Top family, a young elephant named Ruby. At first he doesn't remember much of his childhood but those memories come flooding back. When they do and as he watches Mack (his owner and the ringmaster) train Ruby for the ring, he begins to reevaluate what his life has become and what exactly he wants for himself and all of his animal friends.
read more: What to binge on Disney+ Right Now
At only 94 minutes. The One and Only Ivan is ideal for a family movie night, especially with children who cannot sit through longer films. With adorable animals on the screen, humor, and some action, it will easily grab and hold the attention of even the youngest viewers.
Visually, Ivan is grounded in a realistic landscape. A far cry from Tim Burton's Dumbo, the Big Top Mall gives off a lates 80s early 90s feel. Complete with an original gameboy and cameras with actual film in them. The realism of the setting aides in the audience's connection with the story. It looks like what we readers of the book have conjured up in our heads.
In Ivan, the animals talk in an expressive way that reminds me of Disney's most recent live-action animal movie, Lady and The Tramp. Those expressions help the audience get involved emotionally as the story unfolds. And get emotional you will. The One and Only Ivan brought tears to all of our eyes, no surprise there with me though. I'm an animal lover and any animal movie gets me right in heart.
I think a big part of the connectivity is owed to the stellar voice cast of Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Chaka Khan, Mike White, Ron Funches, and Phillipa Soo. They brought light, love, humor, and depth to their roles.
Unlike other circus/animal movies, the main human character isn't some evil brute that needs to learn his lesson by getting a swift kick in the rear. Bryan Cranston's character of Mack comes off mostly as a nice guy who genuinely cares for his animals. There is one scene, when Mack is training Ruby for the circus, where his frustrations come through however they do not show him being abusive or hurting her in any way. Cranston is able to switch effortlessly from over the top Ringmaster to business man to “parent” to all these animals.
Ivan explores how animals should be treated, proving once again that creatures of all shapes and sizes deserve to be treated with respect all without being heavy handed.
The One and Only Ivan is an entertaining, heartfelt family movie. Fans of the book will love seeing one of their favorite stories come to life. Newcomers to Ivan's story will be enchanted by it and eager to learn more. You will walk away from this one remembering the importance of true friendship, especially in hard times and that kindness will be there when you need it most.
It might have you or your children looking for ways to free the animals on their next trip to a zoo. While I don't recommend you opening cages, if your children are interested in learning more about gorillas, download this free The One and Only Ivan Activity Packet.
The One and Only Ivan Post Credit Scene
Stay through the credits to see footage of the real Ivan, a mid-credit, and post credit scene that are too cute to miss.
The One and Only Ivan is now streaming on Disney+ and is rated PG for mild thematic elements.
Artemis Fowl Movie Review
Artemis Fowl II is a 12-year old boy genius who cares little for those he doesn't respect. His entire world is rocked when his father, Artemis Fowl I goes missing and is accused of stealing countless priceless artifacts from around the world. But everything is not as it seems.
For generations, the Fowls have secretly collected magical artifacts and protected the balance between the fairy world and ours. He has been kidnapped by Opal Koboi, a dangerous fairy who is looking for the Aculos. This powerful device was given to Artemis I to protect it from those who wish to use it for evil. With the help of his family's trusted bodyguard, Domovoi “Dom” Butler, Holly Short, and Dom's niece Juliet, Artemis II is determined to rescue is father and protect the Aculos from dark forces.
read more: What to Binge on Disney Plus
Book readers are always hesitant when it comes to adaptations. Movies made from books rarely, if ever, live up to the worlds we have created in our minds. One of the few that I felt were spot on was Secret Window, a thriller based on Stephen King's story of the same name. Artemis Fowl is not Secret Window.
The plot can come off jumbled at times with the story moving along quickly. With a 94 minute runtime some speed is necessary but I do wish they had taken some time to flesh out all the main characters a bit more. That is the main issue I have with Artemis Fowl, the film. The screenplay attempts to combine two of the books into one origin story and it leaves you feeling like you're missing out on a lot. Because you are.
This is where knowing the source material would help, you don't need the backstory or to get to know characters because you already do. Without the knowledge of the books, you may find it hard to connect to the characters, if at all.
If you can let go of what you think it ought to be, Artemis Fowl can be an enjoyable film. It has cool fight scenes, a farting giant dwarf, and magic. Josh Gad stole the show as Mulch Diggums. He serves as narrator and kleptomaniac extraordinaire. Mulch has the best lines and also happens to have extreme flatulence, which guarantees laughs.
Visually the film brings to life the beauty of real life Ireland and the fantasy world occupied by the fairies. Haven City was well done, and looked almost like I had imagined it. The fight scenes are CGI heavy and can be a little hard to keep up with visually, as things are happening in a blur. However, most kids watching won't even notice that or care. They just want to see someone their age kick butt and take names.
The film ends by setting up for a sequel, which has a lot of potential for being better than the original. However, with the negativity floating around I doubt we will see it made. Which is shame really, because there are those viewers that actually enjoyed it and would love to see more.
Despite not being 100% page for page of the novel, Artemis Fowl manages to deliver an entertaining movie that the family can sit down and watch together. Unlike other new releases for kids, this one was action packed and showcased a tween genius. Older kids are going to love it and younger ones too because who doesn’t want to see a guy eat dirt and fart it out?
Artemis Fowl ultimately shows the benefit of teamwork, having courage, and not making assumptions about anyone in your life.
Is Artemis Fowl safe for young kids?
The fight scenes can be a little intense for younger viewers but if they have watched any Marvel or Star Wars films then there should not be any issues. There is no bad language to watch out for which is always a plus for parents. Children who are sensitive to their parents being put in danger might struggle with Artemis' dad being in kidnapped and presumed dead.
Artemis Fowl is now streaming on Disney+. It is rated PG for fantasy action/peril and some rude humor.
Hamilton Film Trailer
Tune up the volume, switch to full screen, and enjoy the first look at #Hamilfilm.
The filmed version of Hamilton combines the best elements of live theater, film, and streaming to bring this phenomenon to homes all over the world. Hamilton is the story of America then, told by America now. It features a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway that has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre. This is a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education.
Hamilton the Film, was recorded at The Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway in June of 2016, this film is set to transport us all from our living rooms to Broadway. With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and direction by Thomas Kail, “Hamilton” is inspired by the book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow and produced by Thomas Kail, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeffrey Seller, with Sander Jacobs and Jill Furman serving as executive producers.
The 11-time-Tony Award®-, GRAMMY Award®-, Olivier Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning stage musical stars: Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson; Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler; Jonathan Groff as King George; Christopher Jackson as George Washington; Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler/Maria Reynolds; Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton; Leslie Odom, Jr. as Aaron Burr; Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan/James Madison; Anthony Ramos as John Laurens/Philip Hamilton; and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton.