“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” stars Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman. Released on August 13, 2010, the film is about a slacker musician who must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes.
The film was directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed films such as “Shaun of the Dead”, “Hot Fuzz”, “The World’s End”, and “Baby Driver”. It is based on the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley. You want to know what it feels like to read a comic book, play a video game, and watch a music video at the same time while being high on drugs? Then have I got a film for you. Two months ago, I reviewed a film that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, which is Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”. Today, I’m reviewing another film that is also celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and it’s something that I remember fondly. Back in the day, I usually go to the movies with my mother even though I was old enough to drive. Then one day at the mall, I convinced her that I would see it on my own at the built-in AMC theater while she does her errands, and the rest is history. That was the day that lead me to feel comfortable with navigating the cinema and pay for the tickets and snacks all by myself, and I got this film to thank for it. It also got me interested in Edgar Wright’s other works, so bonus points for that. Despite not being as successful as Wright and Universal Pictures had been hoping for in terms of the box office, the film went on to become a cult classic and became well-known by critics and audiences for its transmedia storytelling, which is combining many different techniques to form a compelling narrative. I believe that this is one of the films that I shared my thoughts on earlier on Facebook more than five years ago. You know, before I decided to make my blog. Now that I have my own website, I decided to give this one the proper review it deserves, and what better way to do that than during its tenth anniversary celebration? Like my other classic reviews, I will do my best to not give away any major spoilers in case you haven’t watched the film nor read the source material it’s based on.
The film tells the story of Scott Pilgrim (Cera). He’s a 22-year-old slacker who lives with his roommate Wallace Wells (Culkin) and plays for a garage band known as Sex Bob-Omb that consists of him and his friends Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and Kim Pine (Pill). He’s also dating Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), a high-school student who’s also a “Scott-aholic”. One day, Scott takes an interest in Ramona Flowers (Winstead), a young woman who works as an Amazon delivery girl. In order to date Ramona, however, he must challenge and defeat her seven evil super-powered ex-boyfriends. Why did they have superpowers? I have no idea. He also attempts to help the band win a competition that is sponsored by record executive Gideon Graves (Schwartzman). In addition to combining action and comedy with romance, the film represents a narrative that uses visual elements and easter eggs from comic books, video games, and music videos to create a surreal and somehow irresistible experience that felt fresh and exciting. After a decade since its release, it still has that same appeal that will satisfy those who are curious as well as people who grew up reading comics and playing arcade games with their friends. This is a film that’s never afraid to have fun and be creative with its bizarre concept, and it’s all thanks to Edgar Wright’s superb sense of direction. Wright had a clever way of mixing the fundamentals of action and comedy with a substance that audiences can relate to, resulting in a blockbuster that’s both riveting and heartfelt. While the “romance” part can be a bit corny at times, it didn’t get to the point where it made the entire film unwatchable thanks to the chemistry between the cast. Its screenplay by Michael Bacall and Wright did well in showcasing the basics of teen awkwardness and its coming-of-age themes like taking responsibility for one’s own mistakes, learning to let things go, and of course, understanding the true meaning of love. I believe that people who either experienced that phase themselves or are experiencing it right now should be able to relate to its themes while they drown themselves in the sea of geek culture. The cast in the film did a great job with their performances, especially Cera and Winstead as Scott and Ramona respectively. I think there are some critics who had mixed feelings towards Cera’s performance, but honestly, I thought he nailed his character perfectly. Scott has a sense of awkwardness that makes himself likable and flawed and leads him to make some pretty dumb mistakes, mostly the ones that involve love. Michael Cera was able to successfully manifest this type of personality through his mannerisms and tone. I guess you can say that this is my favorite performance from him so far. Kieran Culkin also did really well with his role as Wallace Wells in terms of the humor, and the actors that portrayed the seven evil exes were some of the best parts of the film, especially Evans and Routh as Lucas Lee and Todd Ingram respectively. These actors knew how to have fun with their characters without taking themselves too seriously. The real cherry on top of the colorful sundae was the visual style and the soundtrack. Not only did the style offer a unique and dazzling perspective on the genre, but it also worked extremely well with the teen-related humor, the references from specific comic books and video games, and the nicely-choreographed action sequences. They made the film look like the holy grail of geek fandom. The visual effects looked amazing back when it first came out, and after rewatching it now, I’m glad to say that they haven’t aged a bit. My only concern is that some of the visuals may have a negative effect on people who have experiences with epilepsies, so if you’re one of them, proceed with caution. I also have to give props to the film’s amazing soundtrack for its mixture of rock music and video game music. Interesting fact: the film’s score was provided by Nigel Godrich, who is known for working with Radiohead as the band’s producer, which would explain why the film is so obsessed with rock and roll.
Overall, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is something that you have to see to believe. Not just for the story, the action, and the comedy, but for the uniqueness in its narrative. This is one of my favorite films of the 2010s because of what it brought to the experience. The visual style and the soundtrack are the two major things that made the film special in its own right, and they are backed up by its cast, Wright’s direction, and its themes. It still holds up well after a decade, and I hope it continues to hold up in the years to come and maybe inspire others to provide their own sense of imagination in their own narratives. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend that you do so.
“42” stars Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, André Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater, and Ryan Merriman. Released on April 12, 2013, the film follows the accomplishments of baseball player Jackie Robinson.
The film was written and directed by Brian Helgeland, who also directed “Payback”, “A Knight’s Tale”, “The Order”, and “Legend”. For an occasion like this, I think now is the time for me to look at one of the films that honor some of the legends from the African American culture. One legend in particular had the courage to end racial segregation in the baseball community and inspire others to put more focus on racial equality, and his name was Jackie Robinson. Without him, the world of baseball wouldn’t be what it is today. There were at least a couple of attempts to adapt Robinson’s life story as a feature film. Spike Lee was originally attached to write and direct the project in 1995, and Robert Redford was set to produce it in 2004, but both of these attempts fell apart, resulting in Brian Helgeland taking over the helms in 2011 under the distribution deal with Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures. It was then released to the public two years later to positive reviews from critics and became a modest success at the box office, earning over $97 million worldwide against the production budget of $40 million. This was something that I was planning on revisiting for my blog for quite some time not just because of the “Black Lives Matter” scenario, but also because of how much I loved it. I remembered watching it for the first time with my sister in a sold-out theater and immediately recognized how well this story was told in a PG-13-rated manner. My sister and I enjoyed it so much that I wound up getting the film on Blu-ray. Plus, it was the film that introduced me to Chadwick Boseman, who went on to portray a couple more real-life historical figures like James Brown and Thurgood Marshall and join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Panther after his success with “42”. Yeah, it was a good day for me to be a film lover. So, how does this sports biopic held up in my critical eyes? Let’s travel back to the 1940s and find out.
The story focuses on the life-changing career of Jackie Robinson (Boseman), a baseball player who is chosen by Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Ford) to play in the Major Leagues, resulting in him becoming the first African American player to play in the MLB (Major League Baseball). From playing with the Montreal Royals to leading the Dodgers to the World Series, Robinson faces several race-related challenges that happen on and off the baseball field. What makes Robinson such an iconic person is not just his undeniable talent in baseball, but also his personality. He didn’t let anyone bring him down with their racist remarks and their awful actions towards him. His acts of kindness and respect towards others showed the baseball community that generosity is the only path to victory and that everyone is equal regardless of their skin color. As I mentioned before, I loved every minute of “42” during my first viewing, mostly because of the cast and its inspiring storytelling. Those major things are what made it one of my favorite baseball movies of all time. Looking back at it now as a film critic, I can see that it’s not exactly a perfect sports biopic, but it still holds up well as an important and well-acted baseball drama that honors Robinson’s accomplishments. The only thing that kept it from being an A+ movie was its screenplay. On the one hand, the script has plenty of moments that offer some respectable dialogue and heartfelt drama. On the other hand, it didn’t exactly transcend beyond its genre tropes nor further explore its social commentary in an emotional light. People who wanted a Jackie Robinson biopic with stronger storytelling may feel a bit disappointed with this one, but if you don’t mind this flaw, there’s a good chance that you’ll find plenty to enjoy. I can understand that some of its mild sequences may become a problem for some viewers, but I think the reason why Brian Helgeland went with this direction was because he wanted to make the film accessible to people of all ages, especially kids. It’s important for children to learn this type of stuff. While the execution was far from perfect, the film is suitable enough to show to your kids without making them feel uncomfortable with its themes. What kept the film going for me in terms of storytelling was Helgeland’s direction. Despite missing some of its emotional beats, I thought he did a good job at balancing the film’s themes with some of its light-hearted moments, which goes to show that biopics don’t always need to be overly serious to be great. Sometimes, you just need the good moments to go along with the bad. You know, like life itself. The performances from the cast were also top-notch, most notably Boseman as Jackie Robinson. Boseman had that specific soul in his performance that made his character endearing, but also vulnerable. The film portrays Robinson as a person who enjoys playing the sport he loves, but is struggling to keep his cool around other people who were against him being in the same field as the white players. With all that talent Boseman had to play this type of character, it’s no wonder why he was chosen to sing several songs from James Brown and become a Marvel superhero. Harrison Ford also delivered one of his best performances in his career as Branch Rickey. His strict and scruffy voice was well-balanced with a character who wasn’t afraid to do the impossible despite the controversy he’ll wind up getting. I also want to point out the elephant in the room, which is Alan Tudyk as Phillies manager Ben Chapman. Tudyk’s performance was obviously respectable, but it was his character that I both appreciate and hate. Chapman served as an example of how society treats people of color during that time period in the most distasteful way possible, which I thought served the film’s purpose quite well. I am not kidding, once Chapman opens his big mouth, you will immediately despise him like he was the plague. I like what they did with this character from a critical perspective, but from my normal perspective, his actions made me want to smash his head in with a baseball bat. It’s like having a love/hate relationship with someone. You like them because of their appeal, but you also hate their attitude.
Overall, “42” is far from a grand slam, but it’s still an entertaining baseball drama that’s both inspirational and heartwarming. While its screenplay didn’t delve deep into its social commentary and Robinson’s personal life, the film was able to hit a couple of home runs thanks to its superb cast, Helgeland’s direction, and its heartfelt messages. It’s an endearing biopic that honors the struggles Robinson faced in his baseball career and the spirit of the sport itself. It’s understandable that the film didn’t exactly do anything special with the genre in terms of storytelling, but thankfully, it didn’t take away my love for it. I will always appreciate this film for its themes and the incredible talent from the cast regardless of what anybody says about it. For those who haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth checking out.
“Inception” stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. Released on July 16, 2010, the film is about a thief who steals information from people’s dreams.
The film was written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who also directed films such as “Memento”, “Insomnia”, “Batman Begins”, and “Interstellar”. If you have the power to infiltrate people’s dreams, what would you do with it? This was the question that master filmmaker Christopher Nolan answered in his most ingenious and trippy film of the 2010s. Nolan was originally planning on working on it after the completion of “Insomnia”, but he later shelved it in order to gain more confidence with a project this complex and grand and instead went on to work on the two “Batman” films and the 2006 thriller “The Prestige”. Fast forward to the summer of 2010, where the film became a critical and commercial success and won four out of eight Academy Awards, including Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. It also became a major influence in popular culture in terms of its memorable sequences and its trailers using the popular “braam” sounds. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the sci-fi action classic and with Nolan’s upcoming film “Tenet” heading to theaters soon (hopefully), I decided to revisit it and see if it really is a filmgoer’s dream come true or if it’s actually an absolute nightmare when it comes to the complexity of its plot and themes. For those who still haven’t watched it, I will do my best to share my thoughts on the film without giving away any major spoilers, so that you can experience it for yourself someday.
The story centers on Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) and his partner Arthur (Gordon-Levitt). They’re a group of professional thieves known as “extractors” who use experimental technology to invade their targets’ subconscious and extract information through a shared dream world, hence the term “extractors”. Dom runs into Mr. Saito (Watanabe), a businessman who promises to erase his criminal record by completing this request: implanting an idea into the subconscious of Robert Fischer (Murphy), the heir to his father’s business empire. With a team by his side, Cobb works to complete this dangerous mission while also dealing with his own personal demons in the process. Now, you may think that this plot is as simple as telling time, but it’s actually a complex and modern heist film that does two things: expand on the concept of dream vs. reality through dialogue and deliver a heart-pounding and visually striking thrill ride that every summer blockbuster is known for. With a runtime of two hours and 28 minutes, the film does take a while to get to the actual heist, but with its interesting characters and Nolan’s execution on the “dream vs. reality” scenario, getting through the first act didn’t feel like an absolute chore. Instead, it sets up this idea in a way that Nolan is known for: mixing together character-driven moments with the genre elements while keeping the pace consistent. Once the heist kicks into high gear, that’s when things get even more exhilarating. From its thrilling action sequences to its mind-bending visuals, the film is a trippy and invigorating experience that’s more intelligent than brainless. In other words, it still holds up as one of Christopher Nolan’s best-looking and intense blockbusters of his career. The cast did such a fantastic job with their performances, especially Leonardo DiCaprio as Dom Cobb, who serves as the focus of one of the film’s themes, which is dealing with guilt. Throughout the film, Cobb has been haunted by the events that led his wife Mal (who is played marvelously by Marion Cotillard) to commit suicide, and those thoughts are affecting his job, which helps make the film’s high stakes much more serious. The way they handled this character arc was undoubtedly riveting without feeling forced. This is one of those moments where storytelling and character depth are just as important as the action set pieces and the visual effects. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, and Ellen Page were also great in their roles as Arthur, Saito, and Ariadne respectively as they insert enough interest in these characters to prevent them from being one-dimensional. The scope of the set pieces and the film’s mixture of practical effects and CGI play a big part in portraying some of the most memorable sequences in film history, including the Paris-folding sequence and the zero-gravity fight scene that takes place in one of the dreams. These things alone looked incredible ten years ago, and they still look incredible now. The sequences that I mentioned successfully portrayed how the dreams are affected by the real world and the characters without taking some easy shortcuts that most of the action blockbusters are known for. Another thing I want to mention is Hans Zimmer’s score, which still sounds great in my opinion. Zimmer definitely knows how to create music that matches the intensity and the scope of a specific film without making things too overwhelming or too underwhelming, and “Inception” is a well-deserved example of that. Give it a hear if you get the chance.
Overall, “Inception” is the type of experience that remarkably blends intelligent thrills with awe-inspiring visuals. Ten years after its official release, the film still remains as one of the best examples of what Christopher Nolan can do with a higher budget and his intriguing concept. The cast was great, Cobb’s character arc was well-executed, the visuals and the action looked stunning, and the story was complex, yet interesting, thanks to Nolan’s direction and screenplay. It can be a bit confusing at first, but once you fully understand its substance, I can assure you that you will be in for one heck of a treat. Here’s hoping that Nolan’s latest film “Tenet” will deliver that same experience as this one.
“The Princess Bride” stars Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, André the Giant, Robin Wright, Peter Falk, and Fred Savage. Released on September 25, 1987, the film has a farmhand rescuing a princess from an unpleasant prince.
The film was directed by Rob Reiner, who also directed films such as “This Is Spinal Tap”, “Stand By Me”, “A Few Good Men”, and “The American President”. It is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by William Goldman, who wrote the film’s screenplay. The 1980s was a special decade for actor/filmmaker Rob Reiner. He went from acting in the famous 1970s sitcom “All in the Family” to directing some of the best films of all time. Before his directorial fame came crashing down with some of his notable flops like “North”, “Rumor Has It”, and “LBJ”, he became a household name by making several classics that spanned many different genres like comedy and drama. One of those classics in mind is a fairy tale that depicts swashbuckling heroes, a princess in distress, and twists that were inconceivable. That fairy tale is none other than “The Princess Bride”. Since its release in 1987, the film has been well-received for its delightful and fresh take on the classic damsel-in-distress story. Plus, it became a modest success at the box office. It even became a cult classic after it premiered on the home video market, with many people regarding it as one of the films that are highly quotable. It is a fantasy classic that still holds the test of time as of today. Sadly, I was one of the very few people who haven’t watched the film all the way through until now. I only saw parts of the film, but other than that, my experience with it is so small that you need a magnifying glass to see how small it is. Thankfully, the movie just premiered on Disney+ a month ago, which means I didn’t have to wait for it to appear on television. I can just watch it anytime I want, and by that, I mean today. With that in mind, let’s see if this fairy tale classic has enough magic in its soul to impress me.
The film is a story within a story in which the grandfather (Falk) visits his sick grandson (Savage) and reads him a story to cheer him up. Fun fact: that sequence went on to be parodied in the PG-13 version of “Deadpool 2” entitled “Once Upon a Deadpool” with Fred Savage reprising his role as the grandson. The second narrative, which is the grandfather’s book, takes place in the fictional land of Florin where a farmhand named Westley (Elwes) falls in love with a gorgeous young woman named Buttercup (Wright). When Westley sets out to seek his fortune so they can marry each other, he unfortunately gets axed off by the hands of the mysterious figure known as the Dread Pirate Roberts. A few years later, Buttercup is now forced to marry the heir to the throne of Florin, Prince Humperdinck (Sarandon). Moments before the wedding, Buttercup is captured by three outlaws: a Sicilian boss named Vizzini (Shawn), a giant named Fezzik (André the Giant), and a Spanish fencing master named Inigo Montoya (Patinkin), who seeks revenge against the person who killed his father. Prince Humperdinck sets out to rescue the fair maiden, not knowing that a peculiar Man in Black is also in pursuit of the outlaws. This film had the proper ingredients to make a fairy tale come to life on screen: a love story set in a fantasy world, side characters that provide comic relief, and plenty of action. On paper, it sounded like something that Disney would’ve created as an animated film, but in reality, it’s a kid-friendly fantasy adventure that not only respects the fairy tale tropes, but also includes several moments that are light-hearted and surprising to make the entire experience fresh and endearing for newcomers. Along with a story that’s well-told and nicely-paced for the young kids and characters that are extremely lovable, “The Princess Bride” also had the most crucial part that kept it going strong for more than 30 years, and that is its flawless blend of comedy, adventure, fantasy, and romance. Sure, the latter has a few corny moments, but I think that’s what makes the film charming in its own right. It’s the film’s corniness that help it celebrate the joy and imagination of listening to a bedtime story as a child. To remind ourselves how fun it is to envision a world filled with never-ending possibilities that are straight out of the pages instead of a television screen. The romance element may not be for everyone, but for those who do, I can assure you that there’s lots to enjoy from it. Then there’s the comedy element and the adventure element, both of which were properly well-balanced with one another. It’s hilarious without becoming a straight-up parody of itself, and it’s adventurous without taking itself too seriously. It’s a win-win on both fronts. The majority of the film’s comedy comes from William Goldman’s screenplay and the characters themselves, most notably Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo Montoya, aka the best parts of the film. The screenplay offers some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard in a film as well as some of the most memorable lines in film history, such as “Inconceivable” and “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die!”. So if you’re wondering why a lot of people are quoting these lines over and over again, “The Princess Bride” has the answer you’re looking for. As for the cast themselves, they did a really nice job with their performances. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright were both good together as Westley and Buttercup respectively, but the real stars of the show, in my humble opinion, were the three outlaws who captured Buttercup, played by Shawn, André the Giant, and Patinkin. These guys have a chemistry that was absolutely hysterical and noticeably fun to watch. If they decide to do a spin-off of the film centering on the outlaws, I will watch that in a heartbeat. It probably will never happen since this is something that deserves to be left untouched, but Hollywood has a way of surprising us almost every day, so…
Overall, “The Princess Bride” is a delightful and astonishing fairy tale classic that showcases Rob Reiner’s directorial style and its genre mixtures. Ranging from its charming characters to its memorable dialogue, the film has the right blend of adventure, comedy, and romance to enchant and entertain people of all ages for generations to come. After finally watching it all the way through, I can now declare myself as one of the people who witnessed “The Princess Bride” and loved every minute of it. The film is available on Disney+ as of this writing, so if you haven’t seen it and you got a Disney+ subscription, do yourself a favor and experience it for yourself because not watching it is nothing but inconceivable.
“Mulan” stars Ming-Na Wen, Eddie Murphy, BD Wong, Miguel Ferrer, June Foray, James Hong, Pat Morita, and George Takei. Released on June 19, 1998, the film is about a woman who takes her father’s place to serve the Imperial Army.
The film was directed by Barry Cook, the co-director of “Arthur Christmas” and “Walking with Dinosaurs”, and Tony Bancroft. It is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, and it was the 36th animated film in the Walt Disney Animation Studios library. This weekend would’ve seen the release of Disney’s latest live-action adaptation of one of their animated classics. However, since it got delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, I had no choice but to go to the original source as a backup plan. The source I’m referring to is a small animated film about a Chinese woman who disguises herself as a man. This is one of the films that were released during the Disney Renaissance, the period during the 90s which saw the studio making a huge comeback after releasing hit after hit after hit. While it didn’t earn as much money as the likes of “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King”, it did manage to revive the studio’s winning streak by outgrossing the box office totals of the previous two films that came before it, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Hercules”. The film’s success resulted in the main character becoming a part of the Disney Princess lineup and inspired Disney to develop the 2004 direct-to-video follow-up, “Mulan II” and the just-mentioned live-action remake of the same name. Like my past experiences with the other Disney classics, I had some fond memories watching “Mulan”, including the characters and the songs, although I didn’t watch it as much as “The Lion King” during my childhood. I guess that’s what happens when I have a bunch of Disney films in my inventory. Now that I reached adulthood, it’s time to see if Disney’s take on the Chinese legend can hold up well in my critical eyes. For those who haven’t watched this film yet, I will try to keep this review as spoiler-free as I can.
The story takes place in China during the Han Dynasty, where the villainous Huns, lead by the ruthless Shan Yu (Ferrer), are invading the country. This lead the emperor (Morita) to order a mobilization to defend China from the invaders. The army requires one man from each family, including Fa Zhou (Soon-Tek Oh), an army veteran and father of Fa Mulan (Wen). Concerned about her father’s weakening health, Mulan decides to take her father’s place in the army by…wait for it…disguising herself as a man. With the help of a disgraced former guardian Mushu (Murphy), she must assist the army, under the command of Captain Li Shang (Wong), in defeating the Huns and bring honor to her family. The film followed the same plot as the poem it’s based on, Guo Maoqian’s The Ballad of Mulan, but offered a few changes to make it more appropriate for its target audience, which is undoubtedly families. So if you’re looking for a film adaptation that’s 100% accurate to the source material as well as its historical culture, Disney’s “Mulan” may not be the one that will bring honor to your needs. Disney is usually known for taking historic moments and classic stories and adapt them into animated features with some minor changes and a few doses of kid-friendly material to boot. When you get past some of their “inaccuracies”, these films have plenty of charm to impress almost everyone, including me. Some of them work well enough to be successful. Others, not so much. “Mulan” is a suitable example of the former. Following the traditional Disney formula, the film showcases fast-paced action, fun characters, and a plot that touches the hearts of kids and adults. In addition to exploring its themes of war and honor, “Mulan” also offered an inspiring and well-portrayed story that involves the main character’s journey to bring honor to her family and become her own person. What makes the story inspiring is that it represents two different traditions, one for the women and one for the men, and Mulan, who happens to follow the women’s tradition, was able to break that tradition in order to save her father’s life despite the consequences she’ll receive. It’s a film that says “be who you want to be, not what others think you should be”. Not only was Mulan a strong and fitting character for this scenario, but she was wonderfully voiced by Ming-Na Wen, who is also known for her role as Melinda May in the Marvel series, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” She brought a lot of depth and personality into this role much like the other voice actors for the Disney Princesses. My only minor issue with the story was the film’s antagonist, Shan Yu. I can admit that he’s an intimidating foe and Miguel Ferrer’s voice work was top notch, but he’s not something that I would call “Best Villain Material” compared to the other memorable Disney baddies like Scar from “The Lion King” and Gaston from “Beauty and the Beast”. Aside from that, the story has enough heart, humor, and action to successfully deliver its intended message to those who seek to be one’s self and provide some good, kid-friendly fun for the little ones. The animation also served as one of the strong qualities of the film, ranging from its vibrant background designs to the fluidity of its character designs and action scenes. Like “The Lion King”, “Mulan” has a couple of scenes that combine 2D animation with computer-generated imagery, including the snowy mountain showdown between the army and the Huns which, by the way, still looks amazing. If there’s one thing you should know about these types of animated films, it’s that Disney knows how to make quality animation, even in the 90s. Of course, it’s not a Disney animated film without some comical side characters. While the likes of Yao, Ling, Chien-Po, Chi-Fu, and Cri-Kee have plenty of humor to go around, the only main attraction of the show was none other than the mini dragon himself, Mushu. I really liked Mushu when I was younger, and I still like him today. With the combination of Eddie Murphy’s charismatic voice work and his endearing personality, Mushu is another Disney sidekick that kids will love and adults will find tolerable. The musical score by the late Jerry Goldsmith had the proper essence to capture the serenity of its Chinese scenery and the intensity of its action scenes, and the songs were quite lively, with “Reflection” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” being my personal highlights of the soundtrack.
Overall, “Mulan” is honorable enough to join the ranks of the Disney Renaissance. Filled with a well-told story, likable characters, great animation, and a respectable soundtrack, the film has brought honor to its audience more than 20 years ago, and it will continue to do so for the next 20 years or so. It doesn’t rank as high as “The Lion King” and “Aladdin” in my opinion, but it’s still a worthy addition to the studio’s collection of animated treasures. It’s also something that will keep us occupied until the live-action remake finds its official release date. Hopefully it’ll find one sooner or later. The film is available on Disney+ right now, so if you have the streaming service and you’re one of the people who either haven’t seen it yet or haven’t seen it in a while, it’s worth checking out.