Mulan 2

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 01/29/05 17:28:36

"As mediocre as we're used to from the Disney sequels line."
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

I’m figuring I can’t be the only one who doesn’t really care one way or the other about “Mulan.” It never really seems to register as an essential title in the Disney line - a decent time-passer, sure, but nothing special. If you’re with me on this line of thought, then you won’t find much at all in the direct-to-video “Mulan II,” a sequel so uninspired that I found myself bored before it ever really got going.

Now, I should mention that if you are a fan of the original film, then you may indeed enjoy this second go; it certainly doesn’t trample on the good memory of the original, unlike many other of Disney’s sequels. And if anything, the film is certainly an improvement over the studio’s previous video efforts in terms of animation. Whereas the regrettable follow-ups to “Cinderella” and “Lady and the Tramp” looked rushed and half-assed (the sequels to “Tarzan” and “Atlantis” were even worse, recycled clips from their respective TV cartoon series), “Mulan II” looks fresh and crisply detailed, with many scenes matching the quality of its theatrical predecessor. This one’s on par with Disney’s “Lion King” video series, showing that maybe there actually is hope for the sequel division at the studio.

Then again, for all their efforts to make “Mulan II” a worthy successor visually, the filmmakers drop the ball story-wise. The plot here is nothing on the scale of the original. All we get here is some disposable something-or-other about Mulan getting engaged to General Shang, a plan that gets fowled up when Mushu, Mulan’s guardian dragon (OK, by this point I’m assuming you’ve seen the first film already), learns that he’ll lose his job once Mulan gets married, meaning he’s out to ruin the relationship in order to save his own hide. In other words, the cutesy, smart alecky talking lizard we kinda liked last time is now an annoying imp who exists merely to cause pain to everyone around him. It’s not that much fun to watch. (Oh, and veteran voice actor Mark Moseley’s attempts to impersonate an absent Eddie Murphy - something he’s also done for the Shrek video games - comes off as irritating at best. Then again, it’s not like Murphy could’ve done better with such an unlikable role.)

There’s also something about three princesses en route to marry as part of some land deal; they end up falling for three soldier characters from the first movie instead. In other words, there’s not as much Mulan in “Mulan II” as there is Harvey Fierstein semi-comically falling in love. Eh.

The whole script feels tossed together as an afterthought, as though somebody was given just one night to tie a wedding, some princesses, and a few songs together, and they kept writing even after they ran out of ideas. (There’s even a cheap rip-off of the rope bridge scene from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” although it is the only moment in “Mulan II” in which something actually seems to be happening.) The songs, the jokes, the romance, the story, it’s all cute enough, I suppose, but is “cute enough” really a good thing? Not here. Kids - especially young girls who eat up anything attached to the Disney Princess line - will find this to be mildly entertaining in a TV-as-babysitter kind of way, but it’s certainly nothing memorable. It’s harmless, sure, but it’s also charmless.

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