Mulan - 10 stars out of 10
"Mulan" is a masterpiece. It operates on a deeper level than many Disney films as it tackles heavy thematic material in a way that will still appeal to children. Like Simba from "The Lion King," this film's main character operates on two levels: a fun character that kids enjoy and an internally conflicted character whose trials resonate better with adults than children. Her character is much deeper than the warrior depicted on the DVD cover, trapped in an identity crisis. The song "Reflection" is incredible, drawing the parallel between Mulan's sense of responsibility to abandon who she is in order to find a suitor and her self-sacrifice to dress up as a warrior in order to save her father's life. She questions: "Why is my reflection someone I don't know?" and this film is her journey to discover who is in that reflection. Honor is an overtone throughout the film as the dishonor that she brings on her family through her failures becomes honor through her heroic actions. Beyond the themes of self-identity and honor lies the importance of family, which will strike you on an intrinsic level once you've grown up and watch the film again. This story challenges us to examine ourselves and understand how we became who we are. While "Mulan" is often underrated, I believe that it deserves a spot toward the top of the Disney pyramid. The characters are great (Eddie Murphy is hilarious as Mushu), the music is amazing (particularly Donny Osmond singing "I'll Make A Man Out of You"), the humor is tasteful but knows exactly how far to go without crossing the line, and some of the visuals are just perfectly pieced together (like Mulan's reflection in the sword). One of my only criticisms of the film is that Mushu creates comic relief at some of the worst moments. His funniest moment of the entire film is the look on his face when the rocket explodes from the wagon and yet, one of the most intense battle scenes in the movie occurs seconds later, making the humor seem misplaced. Outside of that, there are very few flaws in the armor of this film. In true Disney fashion, the writers know precisely how to put tears in our eyes with one simple line that warms your heart and sums up the entire film: "The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter."