Remember back in the aughts when the buzzwords “gritty” and “realistic” were on the tips of each producer’s tongue as they cannibalized property after property hoping that it would be enough to attract an audience? Well, that mentality never quite died — it just morphed into things being “serious.” Taking things “seriously” has been this decade’s defining produceorial ethos, and one only needs to look to the Walt Disney Company’s live-action remake output over the last four or five years to see the havoc that it’s wreaking across Hollywood. This is a very long-winded way to ask a very necessary question: Did anyone ask for a version of Mulan without the songs or the jokes?
Well, Disney thinks that there’s a market there for it internationally, regardless of those fun memories you might have watching a faded and beat-up VHS for the thousandth time when you were a kid. And, as a side effect, the production has really stepped into some landmine-filled fields, especially when it has come to the Hong Kong protests. Star Liu Yifei posted some pro-government stuff on Weibo, the Chinese social media network, and a boycott has already started up. But Niki Caro’s film is still coming out, regardless of what we may think about it, and the Mouse dropped a new trailer for the film on Thursday.
Here’s the trailer:
Well, as we thought from the first footage, this looks very, very bland, attempting to “pay homage” to modern-day Wuxia filmmakers like Zhang Yimou or Wong Kar-Wai. Sure, it looks “pretty” and whatnot, but then again, the photorealistic take on The Lion King that this company made last year did as well. Sure, that made money, but it flopped critically, which had to be a pain point for Disney on some level. This will probably be the same way, though it’s somehow found itself in the midst of an international political flashpoint.
Here’s a synopsis:
“When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation… and a proud father.”
Mulan hits theaters on March 27. At least you’ll get your fucking Szechuan Sauce now, Rick and Morty fans.