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What The Critics Are Saying About The Live-Action Mulan

Just how good is Disney's live-action Mulan? It's no longer as mysterious as the dark side of the Moon — the picture is a hit with critics.

Reviewers took to social media to slather praise all over Mulan after its premiere Monday evening, their near-unanimous chorus applauding virtually every aspect of the production. We know what you're thinking: but what about the absence of those iconic songs from the 1998 animated original? How will we contend with the fact hat this Mulan does not feature a tiny, wisecracking dragon voiced by Eddie Murphy as comic relief? According to the critics, the answer is simple: while this Mulan operates in the spirit of the original, it's also the unique vision of director Niki Caro, who has apparently knocked it right the hell out of the park.

Disney's live-action remakes of their classic properties have so far been a bit of a mixed bag (although that bag has contained some insanely profitable films). Last year's DumboAladdin, and The Lion King were all met with mixed-to-poor reviews, even as audiences rewarded the latter two with worldwide grosses well north of $1 billion.

If you caught Mulan's incredibly kick-ass, full length trailer this past Super Bowl Sunday, though, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that the professionals were roundly blown away by the movie. Star Yifei Liu's steely, charismatic presence, Caro's assured direction, and the film's stunning fight choreography were singled out for the most praise — and if you're among those fans who just can't picture Mulan without the songs, you may be pleased to know that the live-action adaptation didn't forget them entirely.

No songs, no Mushu, no problem for Mulan

Insider correspondent Kirsten Acuna made it clear that the filmmakers acknowledged that the bold choice to exclude the original's tunes would leave some fans wanting. "Mulan is absolutely fantastic," she wrote. "Different enough with great action scenes, but with the heart of the original film. It doesn't even matter that it's not a musical. If you're a fan of the animated [movie], there are subtle nods to many of the songs. Can't wait to see this again."

Mashable entertainment editor Angie J. Han went even further, writing, "Mulan is the best of the Disney live-action remakes since Cinderella — I didn't even miss the songs. Finds new notes in a story we already know while delivering gorgeous action, heart, and humor."

Of course, there were also those critics who had no particular connection to the original film; by and large, they, too, enjoyed the heck out of Mulan. "I'm very surprised at how much I liked the live action Mulan movie," wrote Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta. "It's so majestic, the action is thrilling, it aims for a level of sophistication and beauty you don't expect. (I was never a huge fan of the animated film, I think I've only seen it once. So no attachments.)"

Mulan is an action-packed blast that's visually amazing

Indeed, Mulan seems to be rather singular among Disney's live-action remakes in that it doesn't really terribly heavily on nostalgia for the original to carry it. Instead, it appears to be a film seeking to carve its own path — with its bread and butter being those killer action sequences.

"I've seen Mulan twice now and I must say it is grrrreat," wrote Kevin Polowy of Yahoo! Entertainment, channeling Tony the Tiger. "Easily Disney's best live action reboot. I think it's also Disney's first battle epic? It is beautiful & absorbing & rich & empowering. The cast is excellent and Niki Caro's direction is just breathtaking."

That such an expertly-choreographed battle epic would serve a female empowerment narrative was also not lost on critics. "Mulan is about a warrior. And that warrior is a legend," wrote The Geekly Show's Tania Lamb. "Thank you, from all the female warriors that needed this kick-A movie. It's different from the animated version, and I'll be proud to show my daughters this film!"

Lamb's Geekly Show co-host Tessa Smith concurred. "Wow. Just wow. Disney's Mulan is not only visually stunning, it is absolutely magical," she wrote. "I laughed, I cried, and I loved every second of it. I cannot wait to take my girls to see it. Talk about girl power. WOW."

It's safe to say that offering up a live-action Mulan so different from its animated predecessor was a gamble of the sort that Disney's not exactly known for taking. Fortunately, in this instance, it appears to have paid off big time. We've had a good feeling about this one from the get-go, and we're pleased that so far, the critics are proving us right.

Mulan is scheduled to hit the big screen on March 27, 2020.