Director - Tony Bancroft, Barry Cook
Cast - Ming Na-Wen, Eddie Murphy
Country of Origin - U.S.
Discs - 3
Distributor - Disney
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
Date - 03/18/13
The Film (4/5)
With certain animation studios like Disney, Pixar, Aardman, Ghibli, Gainax, etc I tend to view them as a creative entity. The reason I bring this up, is that even though not one single person is responsible for the creative output for Disney Animation (or in turn Pixar, Ghibli, etc) I tend to watch the the ups and downs of the studio, and weigh them as I would as a single entity. Disney Animation historically speaking has some of the greatest feature films in American animation history, but like any creator it has lost its way numerous times only to find itself on top once again.
Disney throughout the 50's and 60's created quite a bit of classic animation, but in the 70's they had hit what is perceived as a slump, this was rectified in the 80's with a new Golden Period that lasted from The Little Mermaid to the Lion King. However, after that Disney was once again in a position of perceived mediocrity as far as many mainstream viewers were concerned. The thing about these downtimes in studio history is that they do tend to produce very good films during these periods. In the 70's and 80's they produced fine films like The Sword and the Stone, Robin Hood, and the Black Cauldron, but to name a few. During the late 90's and early 2000's they released quite a few minor goodies like the Emperors New Groove, and 2 films that were released on Blu-ray in double feature form this week the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mulan.
Disney's Princess line has always been a heavy hitter for them both in the box office, and for merchandising. In the early 90's they managed to add to the pre-existing stable of Disney Princesses Jasmine (from Aladdin), Belle (Beauty and the Beast) and Ariel (The Little Mermaid). Mulan feels like an attempt to add another Princess to that canon, but in a cross-marketing ploy also reach out to the action market typically populated by young boys by sending this princess out to war.
The film uses a beautiful yet minimal animation style to tell a story that blends elements of Chinese history and folklore, with elements of Disney Musical and Comedy. This blended tone certainly creates something that feels original in a Disney film, but also creates a tone of indecisiveness on the part of the responsible filmmakers. Mulan as a film tows the lines between drama, action, musical, and comedy, and for the most part does all of these things very well. It's just at certain moments in the film there might be some over the top out of place comedy in a moment that I suspect was meant to be tonally more dramatic. The vocal performances range from very good to decent, and no one feels out of place in the film. Also, the battle scene in the denouement is absolutely spectacular, and a truly fantastic piece of action animation.
Mulan will never be mistaken from some lost Disney classic, it is however, a very good film from the Mouse House. It offers a nice blend of action, historic drama, and comedy, and manages to create something unique and fun in the process.
Disney has created a truly wonderful 1080p AVC encoded transfer for Mulan. The film boasts an excellent color palette preserving the original intended look of the film. There is a lot of nice fine detail present. Also, unlike some past Disney double features I did not find much in the way of print damage or issues with the transfer to really complain about here.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Similar to the video restoration everything sounds great here. The dialogue comes through clean and crisp, with the music and effects blended together well. I did not detect any audio issues such as pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
OK, call this cheating, but on most of these double features I consider the sequel an extra. The one case where I don't is the Rescuers Down Under, because that went to theaters, and some effort really went into making a good sequel out of it. Most of the stuff on these double features are simple cash in's like Lady and the Tramp 2 that aren't going to sell unless paired with a more popular feature, so it's included. So with that out of the way....
The primary extra feature in this set is Mulan 2. Which is a decent little follow up, but comes nowhere close to being as good or interesting (or even as well animated) as it's predecessor. Mulan II also comes with it's own list extra features including a 3 minutes interview with the director about returning voice cast members, deleted scenes, a music video, and some sneak peeks at upcoming releases.
The extras for Mulan proper are as follows, an audio commentary with producer Pam Coats and the directors of Mulan Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft. There are also 23 minutes of deleted scenes with introductions by Tony Bancroft. We then get classic backstage Disney. This is 56 minutes of Behind the Scenes Featurettes on Mulan. We then get 28 minutes of music videos relating to Mulan. The disc is rounded off by some trailers, and sneak peeks.
Mulan will never be mistaken for a Disney Classic. It is, however, a fun time at the movies and good for the kids (My daughter gave it a 4/5). The A/V restoration is quite good, it comes with the sequel in tow, and has a decent slate of extra features. Mulan the Blu-ray double feature comes RECOMMENDED.