Movie Review: Mulan (1998)

Confession time: I have never actually watched this movie before. I know dishonor on me, dishonor on my cow, blah blah blah. But I then thought that since Disney recently released their live action remake, I might actually give this animated version a go (finally). So let’s get down to business.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Mulan”.

Fearing that her father might die if he goes to war, young Mulan (Ming-Na Wen) steals his gear and pretends to be a man so she can take his place in the army. We all know the basic setup at this point, even if you haven’t seen this movie. And the way it’s handled here I quite enjoyed. It’s not without fault however. There are parts of the story that I feel they glossed over a bit, kinda rushing through some aspects in an effort to get to the “good stuff”. That’s not to say that the story here is bad, it’s still a fun family adventure without a good message at its core. I just wish it maybe slowed down a little more to let certain moments simmer more. But as it stands, the story and the way it’s told is still quite entertaining.

The characters in this are colorful, charming, fun, and surprisingly nuanced at times. First up is Mulan, title character and very relatable person. While the people around her want her to be a fancy girly-girl to honor her family, even though she’s not like that at all. And to see her development in the movie from somewhat clumsy and insecure to someone a bit more tough and confident, that’s engaging. And Ming-Na Wen does an excellent job voicing Mulan. Next we have Mushu, a guardian dragon who sets out to help Mulan become a hero… even if he’s only doing it for his own gain. He’s mostly there to bring laughs, but I think the filmmakers found a good balance in that and making him a valuable part of certain emotional developments. And while it might seem slightly jarring to put Eddie Murphy in a role like that at first, I must say that he was great in the role. Then you also get supporting work from people like B.D. Wong, James Hong, Harvey Fierstein, Soon-Tek Oh, Miguel Ferrer, Pat Morita, Frank Welker, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The music of this film is quite good. The main score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, and it’s an absolute treat for the ears, creating a lot of emotion through the various tracks, giving us a some great background ambiance. Then you have the songs (’cause you know, Disney) that were done by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel. While I don’t think that all of them are among the upper echelon of Disney musical songs, they still generally work pretty well for the movie. The peak of the tracks is of course “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” (sung by Donny Osmond), a most excellent montage song. So yeah, overall this movie has good music.

Based on a Chinese folk legend, “Mulan” was directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook (with writing credits given to a shitload of people, good grief). And I must say that the craft on display here is absolutely superb. The art style for example takes inspiration from traditional Chinese artwork, and blending it with traditional Disney animation to create an absolutely stunning look for this movie that feels wholly its own. The animation is especially breathtaking in motion, where it shows great fluency that is a treat for the eyes.

This movie has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 86% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 71/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.6/10.

While its storytelling isn’t the best, due to its fast pace, “Mulan” is still another winning movie within the Disney catalogue. It has a good story, good characters, really good music, and great directing/animation. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Mulan” is an 8,77/10. So while a little flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Mulan” is now completed.

Sometimes you just a need a film that can make you smile. This one did that for me.

Movie Review: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)

The final movie review of 2017. The final post of 2017 in general. It’s been a fun year filled with cool stuff. So let’s end on a predictable note. Once again, I’m reviewing a DC animated movie. So here we go.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract”.

Nightwing (Sean Maher) rejoins the Teen Titans to help track down villainous cult leader Brother Blood (Gregg Henry) who seemingly has some sinister plan for the Titans. All while the loyalties of newest Titan member Tara (Christina Ricci) come into question. And that’s the best way I can explain the plot without spoiling stuff. But is this any good? Well, it’s not bad. They have some decent dramatic story bits, but I never got invested in any of it. There are interesting-ish twists, and there are some parts that made me go “yeah, that’s some good drama”. But when it comes to the whole picture I never found myself truly invested in it.

The characters here are decently interesting and entertaining. Sean Maher returns as Nightwing, the more fun version of Batman. He’s a cool, charming, and heroic badass that I enjoy following. And Maher is once again really good in the role. Kari Wahlgren returns as Starfire, the alien woman who also happens to be the leader of the Titans.  She’s fun, cool, and is just overall pretty interesting. And Wahlgren is really good in the role. Stuart Allan returns as Damian Wayne/Robin, son of Batman and former assassin apprentice. He’s come a long way since his total brat days, and he’s actually an endearing and interesting character. And Allan once again does a really good job in the role. Jake T. Austin is back as Blue Beetle, who gets a bit more development this time around since we learn more about his family relations and such, and it’s quite interesting. And Austin is really good in the role. Brandon Soo Hoo returns as Beast Boy, the shape-shifting fun guy of the group. And while he’s still mostly played as the slightly over-confident comic relief, he does get some decent dramatic moments here. And Soo Hoo is great in the role. Taissa Farmiga returns as Raven, the dark and quiet daughter of a demon. She doesn’t get as much to do as last time, but she’s still fairly interesting. And Farmiga is really good in the role. Then making her debut in these movies, we have Christina Ricci as Tara Markov/Terra, a young woman with a mysterious past (she can also control rocks, which is neat). She probably gets the most development in this movie, and it’s pretty interesting to follow. And Ricci is great in the role. Then we have Miguel Ferrer (may he rest in peace) as fan favorite character Deathstroke. Ferrer has such a commanding voice, so even when he has slightly less serious lines they come off as badass. Yeah, he’s great. Then you get a bunch of solid supporting performances from people like Gregg Henry, Maria Canals-Barrera, Meg Foster, Crispin Freeman, and more! Yeah, this is a well acted movie.

DC animation regular Frederik Wiedmann composed the score for this. And while it’s not his best, it’s still good. It’s fun and exciting and works quite well for all the scenes in the movie. Not much else I can say here.

Sam Liu is the director of this movie and I’d say the direction here is fine. There’s something about the animation here that makes it seem a little less good than usual. It’s not bad, but it seems to lack some of the detail and energy that previous movies have had. The action scenes are of course the best thing since they flow very well and are generally fun to watch. There’s also a lot of attempts at humor in this movie. Some land, some really don’t. For example, there’s a running gag in this movie that Beast Boy uses social media a lot (despite there being no indication of that in the previous movie he was in). It’s not the only out of place joke(s) in this movie, but it’s one of the more notable ones.

This movie (despite limited data on it) has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 80% positive rating. On Metacritic it doesn’t even exist. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” isn’t really one of the best DC animated movies, but it’s still fairly enjoyable. It has an okay plot, good characters, great performances, good music, and okay directing/animation. My flaws (as previously mentioned) are that the plot isn’t the most engaging, the animation isn’t as good as usual, and some of the humor doesn’t land. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is a 7,78/10. While flawed, it’s still definitely worth renting.

My review of “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is now completed.

I’ll give the movie this: It’s the first movie in this DC animated timeline to not feature Batman in any capacity. Oh, and happy new year… I guess.