Mulan is not only the first Disney live-action remake with a PG-13 rating, it’s also among the priciest, with a reported $200 million budget. Expectations are high for the Niki Caro-directed film, which, unlike the recent The Lion King and Aladdin remakes, won’t rely on nostalgia and Will Smith as a magical blue dude to get people into the theater. Mulan has ditched the songs (even if “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” is a jam) and animal sidekicks for realism, or at least as real as a movie where an evil witch with shapeshifting abilities can be. Which, of course, means no Mushu, the talkative dragon voiced by pre-Shrek Eddie Murphy. (I signify time by things being pre- and post-Shrek.)
USC professor Stanley Rosen, who “specializes in Chinese politics and society,” explained to the Hollywood Reporter why Mushu was left out of the new Mulan. “Mushu was very popular in the U.S., but the Chinese hated it,” he said. “This kind of miniature dragon trivialized their culture.” Disney and the film’s writers had “a lot of conversations” about finding the right tone for the new Mulan, according to producer Jason Reed, and they settled on telling “this story in a way that is more real, more relatable, where we don’t have the benefit of the joke to hide behind things that might be uncomfortable and we don’t break into song to tell us the subtext.” That means more battle sequences.
“You have to deliver on the war of it,” Caro says, “and how do you do that under the Disney brand where you can’t show any violence, gratuitous or otherwise?” She took advantage of the film’s stunning locations, like setting a battle sequence in a geothermal valley, where steam could mask the fighting. “Those sequences, I’m proud of them. They’re really beautiful and epic — but you can still take kids. No blood is shed. It’s not Game of Thrones.” (Via)
It’s not Game of Thrones for multiple reasons, apparently. Mulan opens on March 27.
(Via the Hollywood Reporter)