2023 Just Another Film Blog Awards

It’s once again time for the Oscars. In 2019 I decided to start my own film awards the JAFB Awards and I received an overwhelming response! So, I am very happy to share with you the winners of The JABF Awards 2023. You should probably know that I my issue with the Oscars is their lack of diversity not just in gender, race and background but in genre - I give awards to the films I enjoyed over the past year, most of which are popular movies.  2023 was a huge year for film, the first year post covid where all films scheduled to release at the cinema did so. It was a huge year for franchises and superhero movies however this success is not reflected in the Oscar nominations - not that I'm surprised. Diversity wise the Oscars is making no huge moves to change, with most nominations and awards going to white males in general - the majority of the best picture nominations feature male leads and no female directors have been nominated. The Oscars year on year highlight the lack of equalit

Mulan Review

I'm back with a review after what feels like years and what a film I get to review. Let me start by saying that Mulan is one of if not the best Disney live-action remake to date. Mulan is well worth the £20.00 price tag on Disney Plus, it deserved a cinematic release in my opinion. Mulan is a visual spectacle, an inspirational tale and an action movie. Mulan exceeds expectations in every way. I was really not hyped for this movie at all, the animated version was the first movie I saw at the cinema at the age of 4 years old, and once I learnt that Mushu would not be in the film I lost interest. I was wrong to not be hyped and I did not for one moment miss Mushu. I am so incredibly excited about this film! Please read on for my full review, there will be minor spoilers!
You can check out my Mulan trailer reaction by CLICKING HERE 

Most of you will have seen the animated 1994 version of Mulan at least once and will therefore be familiar with the storyline. This remake follows the central plot, Mulan joins the army to protect her father, she saves China and returns home. However, that is mostly where the comparisons end and that is why this film is so unexpected and enjoyable. It is not a carbon copy of the animated film, there are no songs, no talking dragons and no stereotypes. The focus is on a strong female character and her mission to do what is right, it's a well-paced action movie. There are fun little hints at the animated version such as music moments that incorporate music from the songs, instead of there being a literal cricket there is a man whose nickname is Cricket, some lines are reused, the imperial palace looks identical and the original Mulan Ming-Na Wen even makes a cameo which is awesome. All of these little hints made the film a very interactive watch as we were constantly saying 'omg the cricket' or 'is that the Reflection music'. The film plays with moments of calm, which juxtapose the intense action sequences unlike anything we have ever seen in a Disney movie. Narratively Mulan is pretty awesome, feels fresh and will engage audiences for the full two hours. 
The cast including: Lui Yifei (Mulan), Jet Li (The Emperor), Donnie Yen (Commander Tung), Jason Scott Lee (Bori Knan),Gong Li (Xian Lang - The Witch) and Chen Honghui (Yoson An) bring this adaptation to life. Each character shines perfectly, each actor making every scene their own, this film really showcases a fantastic cast. But it is the director Niki Caro who shines most because this film is perfect. Mulan is a true testament to the talent of the crew, every moment is perfectly crafted, timed, edited and shot. Caro creates a film that connects us with Mulan on an emotional level, dialogue is not forced to create wordy scenes which is rare in Hollywood movies. Scriptwriters Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin create believable characters and great moments (something I aspire to with my own work). Visually this is hands down the most beautiful Disney remake, from the sweeping shots of diverse habitats, from snow, to mountain ranges to deserts and cities. The scale of this film is undeniable, the battle sequences are perfectly choregraphed and executed which gives a sense of authenticity but is also just straight up awesome. The costumes designed by Bina Daigeler are stunning, well researched and add again to the authenticity. The production designers, prop makers and set builders are the real reason this film looks so perfect, every shot is full of colour, props, and fantastic set pieces. From the moment the camera pans down at the start we are taken into a world that is a pure feast for the eyes. This level of production value is the only real hint that Mulan is part of the long list of Disney live-action remakes. 
Mulan has always been a story about a strong female character, a character that is inspirational. This film evoked a lot emotion, in the same way Wonder Woman did. I felt emotional watching Mulan embrace her power and fight for her country. This film takes the feminist themes to another level. In the end Mulan is not validated by a love interest showing up at her house, but by a job opportunity. Love is also not a central theme of the movie here, there is a love interest, but this is a very minor sub-plot and highlights once again that female characters can do more than fall in love. The addition of The Witch is brilliant! The scenes between The Witch and Mulan are riveting and The Witches arch is so unexpected but believable that she will become one of your favourite characters. But the moment that really stood out was when Mulan revealed herself as a woman and revealed that The Emperor was in danger. Her friends in the army stood up for her, they supported her, and Commander Tung asked her to lead the army! They then protected her so that she could save The Emperor. Mulan is at the very centre of every action sequence which is fantastic and incredible to watch.
Overall Mulan is a triumph, an empowering action movie that knows when breathe. It is a cinematic spectacle and a stunning fresh adaptation. I love everything about this movie. What makes me really sad is Mulan deserved a cinematic release, I understand why Disney made the tough decision to release it on Disney Plus but I admit I think it was the wrong choice, especially with films like Tenet performing well at cinemas. It is a shame for the talented cast and crew that their creation is not getting the release and possibly recognition it deserved. Mulan is 100% worth the £20.00 fee and let's face it thats not even the cost of two cinema tickets! Go buy it and watch it, you won't regret it. I am certainly going to be watching this film on repeat for a while. 

Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think in the comments below xx