I think if I explained everything that I hated about this movie, I would be here forever, so I'll just list a couple of the things that I hated most. (Just for context, I am ethnically Chinese.)
1) Mulan doesn't resonate with me as a character at all. She feels like a hollow shell of the 1998 Mulan and has no emotions or personality. The most memorable scene for me in the 1998 Mulan was the scene with the song 'Reflection' and it was incredibly moving and emotional. In this version, I felt nothing when I saw it. Mulan was just so bland and boring in that scene.
2) Lovable characters like Mushu have been removed for some reason. (To make it more realistic? To cut down on the plot?) A magic CGI phoenix has been introduced but even after watching this entire movie, I don't understand the point of this addition. The phoenix contributes nothing to the plot and unlike Mushu, doesn't have a lovable personality (or any personality at all).
3) The action sequences were awful and seemed to me like they had been designed to fit a 5 year old's interpretation of 'cool'. This meant that they were actually extremely cringey and very over the top. There were moments where the characters were suspended for weirdly long periods in the air during jumps which made it very offputting to watch.
4) The repetition of honour, loyal, brave and true throughout the film. Yes these are important concepts in Chinese culture but this doesn't mean they need to be repeated every few minutes. If someone were to play a drinking game every time these words were mentioned then they'd probably end up in hospital from alcohol poisoning. Imagine if someone created an American movie where the characters kept saying 'freedom' and 'the american dream' in every other sentence like a broken record player. Although these are important American ideals, that doesn't mean anyone wants to watch a movie where they are repeated a million times. The 3 virtues should have been introduced into Mulan with more subtlety and grace to make it actually palatable to the viewer.
5) I disliked the addition of Xianniang. While I feel like her character could have been a cool concept, the execution was poorly done. We don't see enough of her and her backstory to be able to connect with her and her interactions with Mulan were shallow and artificial. I also can't accept that she had a 2 minute conversation with Mulan in the palace and decided to give up her life for her. Of course, I am not a witch who has been ostracised my entire life, so I have a different perspective from her, but I could not understand her decision at all. It feel like the director suddenly realised that the movie was too long and rushed to kill her off so we could finish the movie in time.
6) Mulan's makeup during the matchmaking scene. I have no idea why they decided to give her such garish makeup, especially since none of the other girls at the matchmaker's looked like that. At the end of the movie, we return to the matchmaker's room where another girl is meeting the matchmaker and she doesn't have such awful makeup. Was this an attempt to be historically accurate? I understand that there are difference between our modern concept of beauty and the historical ideal, but I think they could have tried harder to find a balance between these two. There are plenty of Chinese historical dramas that manage this; where the actresses look gorgeous to the modern eye even though they are dressed in the period style.
7) I was extremely excited about this movie because I loved the 1998 mulan. It was one of the only representations of Chinese culture that I saw in western media as a kid. It was an amazing movie and made me proud to be Chinese. But after watching this movie, I feel like I've watched a bad parody where Westerners make weird assumptions about Chinese culture that I, as a Chinese person, can't comprehend.
8) The magic chi. I can't even properly articulate my anger and confusion about this. I think that Mushu and many of the original songs were cut because they were unrealistic, but this magic chi business is completely unrealistic too! (for the record, chinese people cannot turn into birds and fly.) Mulan doesn't manage to save china through the power of hard work, perseverance and determination... she does it through this special handwavy magic energy
sorry about how long this review has become but i felt pretty strongly against this movie. Obviously other people will have different opinions to me, since we all have different likes/dislikes and come from different backgrounds. If you enjoyed this movie, I'm glad you did, but unfortunately I do not share your views.
I'd recommend everyone watch the 2009 Mulan instead because that's everything this movie tried to be and failed at. The 2009 movie stayed true to the story of Mulan and is an absolute masterpiece in comparison to this in my opinion.