Sunday, August 1, 2010

As If Mulan 2 Wasn't Bad Enough....

. . . as Mulan?
Zhang Ziyi has officially bitten more off more than she can chew. This actress has recently announced her intention to both star in and produce a live action version of Disney’s Mulan.
Once an animated classic, Ziyi brought the idea to Walt Disney studios to create a remake of this ancient tale which follows an awkward, young girl in China rising to become a renowned and self-fulfilled warrior woman. Critically acclaimed, the original Mulan is definitely must-see material, but trying to follow up with a different version of this film is about as foolhardy and ill fated as rapper Eminem’s post Curtain Call comeback attempt.

First off, the new production must “face the music” in both a figurative and literal sense. Part of what made the original Mulan so great was its incredible soundtrack. The diverse musical score ranged from personal and introspective songs such as “Reflection” to epic and intense battlefield instrumentals to fun, upbeat tunes such as “A Girl Worth Fighting For” and “Honor to Us All.” Choosing between including music or cutting music for the remake is a bit like choosing between falling into a pit of boiling hot lava or an aquarium filled with angry piranhas: painful either way, and little hope for survival. On the one hand, if the music is included, it will undoubtedly not stack up to the original film. For instance, picture anyone other than Donny Osmond singing “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” At best it will come across as mediocre karaoke, unworthy of making it past the first round of an American Idol contest. At worst . . . well, no one wants to picture that. That being said, the alternative, not including any music from the original, is even worse. Music is half of what made the original Mulan so great. Taking it out of the picture would be virtually sucking the soul out of the entire project.

And who are they gonna get to play this guy?

Moving right along, a second possible snag could be the animation. Many of the characters in the original film were mystical beings, the most memorable of which being the loud mouthed dragon sidekick Mushu. However, various family gods and spirits that send Mushu on his quest to aid Mulan also play a crucial role in the original film. Now these, unlike the music, have little chance of being cut out. A body can live, albeit poorly, without a soul. It cannot, however, live without it’s internal organs and Mushu and company are this particular body’s lungs and kidneys. That being said, inevitably there is a whole bunch of animation that needs to be tackled in the remake of these characters. But this will be easily botched, potentially cheesy computer creations rather than the artfully drawn out 2D predecessors. The result may not be pretty.

A final concern could be the action and fighting scenes. As the film takes place during a period of war, it is certainly going to include a sword fight or two. Putting these scenes into a live-action film is problematic. If the battles get too fierce and gory, they will probably end up giving this film a PG-13 rating, and ruining the family oriented feel. Not only that, but it would be taking away it’s own innocence, for lack of a better word. However, being overly innocent would take away from the film’s dramatic tension and energy, thus coming across as, well, flat out lame.
Perhaps this third concern with the film is slightly unwarranted. Ziyi has worked previously on the well received martial arts picture, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, thus lending her some credibility in this area. Still, she is going to have an uphill battle perfecting this style and incorporating it into her latest work.

I would keep complaining about the other troubles this new film could develop, such as poor direction, bad acting, or sub-par dialogue, but it hurts too much to keep discussing. Until this film is released, just consider me Lady Gaga, because when it comes to this probable stinker of a remake I just “don’t wanna take anymore.” Consider me not sold on the remaking of a live-action film based on a spectacular original.

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