With the massive success of films like 2010's "Alice in Wonderland" and this year's "Beauty and the Beast," Disney has found a huge goldmine in taking the beloved classics from their animated lineup and giving them a live-action spin with giant budgets and a heavy emphasis on spectacle and visual flair. Next year, "Mulan" will be given the same treatment, with development currently underway. One of the more interesting controversies that has taken place comes from a Moviefone interview with director Niki Caro, in which she states the film will possibly cut out the songs from the 1998 film. This was also fresh off the news of Mulan's love interest in the original film Li Shang being replaced with a different character with a new personality.
What happened was outrage from fans of the original movie, believing the following changes ruined the original charm and spirit of the animated film. This led to Caro clarifying some of her statements in an LA Times interview, saying that songs have not been discussed by the creative team and no decision has been made, ending with "I haven't even started working on [the movie] yet."
Well to be quite honest, I fully agree on the changes made with the replacement of Li Shang, and I endorse a songless version of this story.
Now allow me to say upfront I have not been much of a fan of Disney's new trend of adapting their animated films into live-action features. There are many reasons for it, but one of the biggest ones has to be how similar the majority of the remakes are to their original counterparts. With the exception of 2010's "Alice in Wonderland" and 2016's "Pete's Dragon," every animated remake made within this decade has borrowed heavily from the original movies. "Cinderella" and "The Jungle Book" are half their own things half the Disney film with a new coat of paint, while "Maleficent" heavily used much of the storylines and ideas and characters from Disney's adaptation of "Sleeping Beauty." I have yet to see "Beauty and the Beast," but many critics have complained how the remake is essentially the Disney film almost beat-for-beat, save for some added filler material.
I know I'm in the minority about my personal issues with these films; look at the box office grosses each film has. Still, I just can't see the appeal of seeing a movie that's already incredibly strong on its own and wanting a remake that holds on to the ideas and story of another adaptation. The 1967 "Jungle Book" is already a classic, so why tack on Bare Necessities and keep King Louie, a character that wasn't even in the original story, instead of trying a new unique spin on the story? The 1991 "Beauty and the Beast" was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, so why do a version that's practically shot-for-shot with very few changes added in and a re-skinning with live-action actors and CGI characters? Disney already has movies that are perfectly fine as their own entities and are watched and beloved by millions around the world, so why not take these classic stories that have already been adapted multiple times before and try a unique spin on a classic story?
Really, by holding the hand of another adaptation of a story, a remake will offer nothing creative or all that exciting for new audiences, and more likely than not will end up swept away by the sands of time, while the original is still around to enchant new viewers for the next few decades. Remember when Gus van Sant directed a remake of "Psycho" with Vince Vaughn that was a literal shot-for-shot recreation of the 1960 film? Well, that movie has been completely ignored by audiences today, while people still purchase and watch the original classic. I'm confident that within 10 years, "Maleficent" will just be remembered as a pale imitation of 1959's "Sleeping Beauty," with the latter film still being regularly watched by millions of children.
So if I wasn't making it obvious, I don't want "Disney's Mulan - Reskinned," but instead "Niki Caro's Mulan." I want to see Caro give her own unique spin on the Hua Mulan stories, and not just copy a movie from a couple of decades ago. I want to see an adaptation that really tries something new that I haven't seen been done with a classic tale before, whether it be in its characters or in its story. And even if the movie comes out and is panned by everyone who sees it, I'll gladly take a movie that tried something new and failed, rather than a by-the-numbers retread of a movie that's already fine on its own.
It's still unknown if Disney's 2018 "Mulan" movie will actually remove "Reflection" and "I'll Make a Man Out of You," but allow me to say that while many fans may complain and protest, I'll buy my ticket for the movie on opening day if Caro and Disney decide to actually take a risk and tell a new story with an iconic character instead of retreading from the past. Hell, I'll probably even see it twice.