Bleats

The Most Disappointing Thing About Live-Action 'Mulan' Isn't The Lack Of Mushu

Or the lack of singing.

I must confess that I’m a bit skeptical of Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan for a variety of reasons ranging from loving the original animated film to how the new movie will handle things like the cultural stuff and replacing Mushu.

After watching the new Mulan trailer, most of my worries have been appeased but a major new one has come up.

Speaking of movies that have a bunch of problems going from them…

But firstly, the good stuff. Mulan tells the same story we all know – Hua Mulan dresses up as a man so she can fight against invaders in order to save her father (and China) while bringing honour to her family – but holy hell it looks stunning.

There’s no singing, but this Mulan makes up for it with a clear reverence for the real-life story of Hua Mulan and Chinese culture. There’s also a stunning new orchestral rendition of the classic tune, ‘Reflection’, from the animated film, which should appease skeptics that the music in the live-action adaptation won’t live up to expectations.

As for the magical elements, there’s sadly no Mushu but he’s been replaced with a phoenix. This thematically makes more sense in this take of Mulan as phoenixes are the female counterpart to dragons and they represent rebirth, which perfectly ties in with the story.

Oh there’s also a magical witch in there played by Gong Li, which is a little odd yet it works.

Mulan looks and feels fantastic… but the big problem I have is the use of the Chinese language. Or more specifically, the lack thereof.

Despite all the efforts in casting Chinese actors, all of whom are native Chinese speakers, everyone speaks English. Seeing so many great-looking scenes that pay respect to the original Chinese history be doused in accented English is quite disorientating.

Stuff like Mulan reciting the Chinese characters on her father’s sword in English don’t sit very well with me (who comes from a Chinese background) and it feels a bit disingenuous that Chinese actors are being told to speak English in order to tell this story.

Live-action Mulan with no Mushu and… in English?

Here’s hoping that the filmmakers made a Chinese-speaking version of Mulan (with subtitles) come March 2020 because all those efforts in maintaining authenticity and cultural respect go straight out the window when you’re getting your Chinese actors to tell a Chinese story in broken English.

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Will 'Black Widow' Finally Give Natasha Romanoff The Story She's Been Robbed Of?

She's more than earned her time in the MCU spotlight.

Ever since the MCU became a thing in 2008, Marvel has managed to tell a bunch of good-to-great stories for its main roster of heroes. Well, except for Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow and the only female Avenger on the team.

But we absolutely should!

Since being introduced in Iron Man 2 in a very male-gazey fashion, Natasha Romanoff has consistently been short-changed when it comes to meaningful character or narrative arcs. In fact, she’s predominantly been sticking around to merely serve the stories of Marvel’s male heroes.

Sure there have been sprinklings of character moments, reveals and quips, but those are fall far short of what we would expect for one of the top Avengers in terms of longevity, screen time and importance.

In the Captain America movies, Black Widow has mainly been there as extra muscle and a shoulder to lean on for Steve Rogers. The Avengers movies are mainly about the greater threat at hand mixed in with bouts of conflict between the other male heroes, leaving little room for anything else, let alone something resembling a Natasha Romanoff character arc.

Speaking of Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow…

Even when Marvel tried to give her something of a deeper story in Age of Ultron, it ended up as a half-baked love story that not only existed to serve Bruce Banner’s arc, but it also grossly insinuated that Natasha is a monster because she’s sterile rather than the awful things she’s done as a superspy.

Hell, even Endgame managed to drop the ball for Black Widow despite giving her a massively increased presence in the film. While her valiant sacrifice is noble, her death comes well before any of the other main Avengers and it ultimately ends up serving as motivation for the remaining heroes against Thanos – an example of the troubling female character fridging trope if there ever was one.

By the film’s conclusion, Tony Stark ends up taking all the remembrance spotlight and the name Natasha Romanoff is all but forgotten.

Same ay.

And this brings us to Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff’s long-awaited solo film that’s come after the character has technically died in the MCU.

Some might see this as nothing more than a cash grab that also doubles as a belated remedy to the lacklustre treatment Natasha Romanoff has received in the MCU so far. That may or may not be true, but let’s also look at it this way: this will be first film where Black Widow’s story will be her own and not in service of other dudes.

After so many one-liners, references and vague flashbacks to her background and previous spy life, Black Widow finally pulls the curtain back on Natasha Romanoff’s life.

We see characters from her past, a fleshing out of her history and it seems like things will actually revolve around her rather than the other way around. You’d expect that from a movie titled Black Widow but it’s best to be a little cautious given Marvel’s history with its female characters.

Whether or not all those pieces present in Black Widow will result in the rich story Natasha Romanoff deserves remains to be seen, but the signs look (mostly) promising.

We’ll find out soon enough come May 2020, but hey, it’s better late than never from Marvel to finally acknowledge one of its longest serving heroes.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

Tim Allen, Mate, Stop Trying To Defend Using 'Provocative Words' Like The N-Word

There are better hills to die on than this one, Tim.

One of the strangest – and dumbest – topics of discussion that has come up in recent years and caused something of a generational divide is the notion of “PC” or “woke” culture. The latest Hollywood star of a bygone era to share their two cents on the matter is none other than Tim Allen, who had some interesting views on the usage of “provocative words” like the N-word.

Speaking of “problematic things people thought are still okay today”…

Appearing on The View, Allen went on a tirate against the “PC culture” today (which isn’t a thing) and had an almighty whinge over how older comedians like himself can’t tell certain, problematic jokes without getting in trouble.

“And you know, what I got to do sometimes sometimes is explain – which I hate – in big arenas, that this is a thought police thing and I do not like it. But when I use these words, this is my intent behind those words. So as long as you know my intent… I still get people who say, ‘Just don’t say it.’ And I said I’m not going to do that.

“I’m surprised they haven’t [run him out of town] because I do use some provocative words, but I tell them, it’s words I really got from my parents,” They said this stuff. When we talked about it… We can’t even say this stuff. Can’t even point to it.”

Uh huh, right. I hear what you’re saying there, Tim Allen, but maybe instead of blaming “PC culture” (again, not a thing) for your inability to say “provocative words”, perhaps you should look at why this is more an issue with you rather than the culture.

The comedy climate has changed dramatically since the 80s and Tim Allen, mate, you’re still stuck in the past. Instead of adapting and updating your material for audiences today, you’re just having a whinge over your old stuff no longer being relevant.

So instead of going around complaining about younger generations not allowing you to be “funny,” maybe go and come up with new, updated material that doesn’t require you to use problematic words.

Having said all that, we shouldn’t be surprised that a white conservative middle-aged “comedian” like Tim Allen is going around blaming “PC culture” for not being funny anymore.

The guy has had a history of complaining about being allowed to say the N-word as much as he wants as long as there is no “racist” intent behind it, so having him whinge about “PC culture” is actually pretty tame compared to his previous complaints. Plus it shows how he still doesn’t get the context as to why using the N-word as a white man is offensive.

So Tim Allen, mate, if you’re still doing the same jokes that involve using the N-word from decades ago and you’re not getting the same laughs as you once were, don’t blame the audience, blame yourself for not updating your material.

Always be in the loop with our snackable podcast breaking the biggest story of the day. Subscribe to It’s Been A Big Day For… on your favourite podcast app.

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