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Robert Harris

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Robert Harris
Where to begin?

It's difficult to view the new live-action Mulan, as directed by Niki Caro (Whalerider - if you've not seen it, grab a copy), without bringing along the international and political baggage, the veritable elephant in the room, of the Disney / China connection, without which this beautiful film wouldn't have been produced, or at least produced as it was, on a huge two hundred million dollar budget. Connection so noted, you can find discussions elsewhere.

Mulan is a beautiful film, with magnificent cinematography by Mandy Walker, especially the Chinese landscapes on location. Interiors were shot in New Zealand.

No need to go into the storyline, as this is a re-make of an earlier Disney effort, that reached a more than moderate audience, taking in over three hundred million dollars world-wide.

What caught my eye is the overall resolution of this 4k release from Disney. I don't know if it's an up-rez, or whether we're seeing the original 2k files - the film was shot large format - but the resulting imagery is magnificent, and appears either 4k or close to it.

Colors leap off the screen, black levels, presumably with a bit of help from HDR, which is extremely delicately applied, are magnificent, even in projection, which means that flat panels viewers will be thrilled.

Audio in Dolby Atmos, is likewise, beautifully rendered, with one surprising audio image perfectly placed in height.

With bloody battle scenes now de rigueur, it's both interesting, and a wonderful nod to younger viewers, to have them totally devoid of blood.

A wonderful film, and a must-own for any serious home theater enthusiast for both content as well as technical virtues.

The extras and bonus features are too many to list, but know that they'll be found on the Blu-ray disc.

On a final note, I seldom make note of slipcovers or steelbook designs, tossing more than 90% of them, as they take up shelf space.

This one's a keeper. Beautifully designed, and with blind embossing and metallics, the imagery replicates the main titles.


Image – 5

Audio – 5 (Dolby Atmos)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

 
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noel aguirre

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Watched this last night and what a demonstration disc- so vivid and detailed. Reminded me of my first viewing of The Last Emperor many years ago when the theater gasped at the site of the forbidden city. Truly spectacular and well done.
 

Nelson Au

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I just saw this last night going in totally blind. I never saw the animated version and I wasn’t familiar with the folklore source material.

Overall, I enjoyed it. But I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some Disneyfying going on to adapt the story for a modern audience. I figured there was a romance that was removed or entirely sidetracked too. And Mulan’s rise with such natural powers, it felt a lot like The Force Awakens. Nothing wrong with that, but I wish there had been more explanation for how her skills became so well developed. I suppose it’s a folklore, so it’s doesn’t matter. She just is that way. In the same way Rey was born with the Force and had an innate ability to tap into it. I at least can think of Rey similarly and as Lucas has said, Star Wars is a fairytale. And Mulan is based on a story from ancient China.

After watching the film, I had to read up on it because before going in, I wanted to go in with no preconceptions. I was surprised by the controversy lead actress Liu Yifei created. I won’t go into the specifics or the politics. It was unfortunate. Though I did like her portrayal of Mulan, she was very good.

I also read the Witch was a new character, the villain was different then from the animated version and three characters were missing from the animated version. The missing songs I understand was controversial too. For this kind of more realistic combat action film, I can see why the director made this choice. So without the experience of the animated version, I was fine with it. I also did not know the songs, so I could not hear the song‘s influence on the film’s score.

The action sequences and gravity defying fighting was very well done, even if it was bloodless. Which I was fine with too. Running up and on walls felt like time honored Chinese costume dramas I sometimes saw on TV as a kid. And I could not help but think of Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger. Another controversy which I thought of as Disneyfying/Westernizing, was the lack of diversity in the behind the camera people. I re-watched Hidden Dragon last year on blu ray. I really enjoyed it a lot more as it was the second or third time I’d seen it and I watched it with a different mindset. I wasn’t so focused on why it wasn’t based on reality and I could go with the mystical aspect of it. It was lyrical and seemed so perfect. So I felt like a live action Mulan would have benefited from that kind of style Ang Lee brought to Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger. and the screenplay could have benefitted too. The Disney film is good, it looks great, the cinematography is great, the imagery is great, the cast is really good! The cameo was great! The only thing about the animated version of Mulan I knew is who the voice actress is. If someone like Ang Lee was directing, I wonder how much of his vision would have been allowed before Disney pushed back.

By the way, I watched the film from the 4K disc even though my display is a 1080 plasma screen. I thought it looked great! (a 4K display upgrade will happen soon) But my pre-amp is pre-Dolby Atmos. The Oppo player seemed to down res to Dolby TrueHD. Which surprised me as most 4K discs have audio tracks my system will not decode. I didn’t hear a lot of enveloping surround going on. The only thing I heard overhead was when the witch shape shifted after leaving the Emperor and flew overhead. So I tried the blu ray which is DTS Master that my system can deal with and it didn’t sound much different, maybe a little stronger surrounds during one of the battle sequences.

It’s too bad the pandemic messed up this film’s theatrical run. I wondered how well it would do. From the trailers, it looked great and I wanted it to do well.

Now that I’ve seen this live action version, I’m likely going to purchase the animated version and compare them. I’m also interested to learn more about the source material someday.
 
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Edwin-S

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I found the film unwatchable, no matter how good it looked. The film's story felt like it was full of cliches. 30 minutes of it was all I could take.
 

jim_falconer

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I tried watching this the other night, and turned it off after 20 minutes. The animated version is the one to watch.
 

Colin Jacobson

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I found the film unwatchable, no matter how good it looked. The film's story felt like it was full of cliches. 30 minutes of it was all I could take.

I didn't think it was unwatchable - to me, that means relentlessly BAD - but it's a bit of a bore.

My biggest issue is that the film works so hard to be "respectful" of Asian culture that it lacks any personality.

Of course, it's good to respect cultures, but here the filmmakers just seemed so worried about anything that vaguely smacked of stereotype that they neutered the entire movie.

I might've already said this in the thread. I'm too lazy to check! :D
 

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