Disney’s live-action remakes have started to grow up a little. After nothing but PG adventures, the studio and director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) are going PG-13 with their remake of Mulan. Considering it’s a story dealing with war, the PG-13 feels more appropriate than a G or PG.
Disney is no stranger to PG-13 movies. Outside of Marvel, the Mouse House rarely makes them, but every once in a while, they make a Pirates of the Carribean film or something in that vein. The upcoming Mulan is similar to the Pirates movies in that it’s going for a more photo-realistic style. While past Disney remakes have often lived in the cartoony uncanny valley, especially the Lion King remake, Mulan is more rooted in the real world. The violence should carry some weight, which is why Mulan is rated PG-13 for “sequences of violence.”
What Else is New About Mulan?
The story remains more or less the same, except without a talking dragon (voiced by Eddie Murphy) and the excellent musical numbers. As the classic story goes Mulan, who’s the oldest daughter of a warrior, takes her father’s place in battle. She pretends to be a man to fight. You know how the story goes. Caro’s vision is grounding the story with some fantastic-looking sets. Instead of relying far too much digital effects, like previous Disney remakes, Caro is going for a more tangible aesthetic.. It’s a part of probably why the PG-13 is important. Would anyone believe a warrior’s journey without a little blood and pain?
A New Step for Disney?
Disney is all about being family-friendly, despite continuing to charge families more money to visit their parks. To clarify: Disney is all about making family-friendly movies. They don’t do R-rated films and they rarely go for a PG-13. Hearing Mulan is PG-13 is a slight breath of fresh air from the studio, since they’ve become very predictable in what movies they make and how they make them. Yes, Mulan is another remake from the studio, but as far as big adventures movies go, it looks new and fun in this current climate. The scale and sets look mighty impressive. Who doesn’t want to see a $200 million action epic starring Gong Li and Jet Li?
Does The PG-13 Make a Difference?
It’s Mulan, so how much of an effect is it really going to have on the box-office? Will it stop a few youngsters from attending the movie? Maybe, but the Disney live-action remakes are practically unstoppable with an exception or two. Even when Disney practically copied and pasted The Lion King with their remake, audiences went nuts for it. The studio is nearly unstoppable with their live-action remakes, and for the most part, they’re good entertainment. Especially Cinderella and Pete’s Dragon. Both those movies, like Mulan, were a little more grounded and practical than the usual Disney remake. They weren’t CG fests like the garish Alice in Wonderland. The PG-13 for Mulan, too, should go a long way in making the new remake more tangible, fun, and less restricted.
When the Emperor of China issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial Army to defend the country from Northern invaders, Hua Mulan, the eldest daughter of an honored warrior, steps in to take the place of her ailing father. Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner-strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.
Mulan opens March 27.