So, the Mulan trailer hit earlier this morning, and when I checked it out, I was delighted to see something we haven’t seen from Disney in a while: an actual retelling of a classic tale. It wasn’t just a live-action version of the animated version we saw, but a film that takes advantage of the fact that the movie is now in live-action.
The story was familiar, but the way that it was told was new, and the stakes somehow seemed even higher than they did in the original animated movie for me. And then I glanced down at the YouTube Like/Dislike ratio.
While the Like/Dislike ratio isn’t ridiculous — most seem to really like it — I casual glance in the comments reveals the why behind it all. Why many fans aren’t happy with this new trailer.
And a lot of the criticisms I’m seeing are flat-out wrong.
2019 — The Year Of Aladdin and The Lion King
2019 was a great year financially for Disney live-action movies. Aladdin made over $1 billion worldwide and The Lion King broke $1.6 billion, making it the highest-grossing animated film of all-time. And yes, I just called The Lion King both an animated film and a live-action film in the same sentence. Deal with it.
Though while these movies made plenty of money (save for Dumbo, but we don’t talk about Dumbo), they weren’t without their criticisms. By and large, fans and critics had similar complaints. They were essentially retreading the same ground as the originals. They didn’t really justify their existence and do anything unique with the live-action take.
The Lion King was probably hit the worst by this criticism, with it having a 55% Rotten Tomatoes score among critics…though you’ll notice it has an 88% Audience Rating, which is apparently a harbinger of things to come. That being said, even among fans, I heard plenty more comments about people wishing these movies were more different than their source material.
It turns out this is another instance of audiences lying to themselves
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s totally cool if you don’t like the trailer. If Chinese epics aren’t your thing, or if you hate the fact that they speak English, then I get it. But those weren’t the criticisms I saw.
That’s right. For the most part, we have people complaining that Mushu is gone, that Shang has been split into two characters, that the character names are different, and that this doesn’t seem like a beat-for-beat remake of the 1998 animated movie.
I think one YouTube commenter sums it up perfectly.
So, what does this all mean? Well, we’ll have to wait and see how Mulan does at the box office, so this may all become moot, but based on these reactions, the conclusions are disheartening: Disney has been right all along.
Many of us film geeks have been lamenting Disney’s approach with these movies as well as the sameness of big-budget movies across the board. We criticize these movies for taking chances, but then many of us then turn around and celebrate the movies that continue not to take chances. I’m guilty of this as well, as I really liked the Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast movies (though, in my defense, it’s mostly for the changes they made on the originals), but that’s just a microcosm of the problem.
This really seems to prove that audiences don’t like new experiences. They want the old and familiar. The comfortable. The easy.
I’m not saying film has no room for movies like this, but I do feel like audiences need to make up their damn minds about what they want. Do they want the animated films in live-action, or do they want genuine retellings? Mulan may not ultimately be a classic, but in this trailer, I saw something I haven’t seen in a Disney live-action remake in a while: a genuine vision from a director.
What do you make of all this? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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