Co-directed by Barry Cook and Tony Bancroft, ‘Mulan’ chronicles the journey of Mulan, a young maiden, who takes it upon herself to save her father from death by undertaking the guise of a male warrior to replace him in the army. ‘Mulan’ stars Ming-Na Wen as Mulan, Eddie Murphy as Mushu and BD Wong as Captain Li Shang. The musical action-adventure film is co-written by Rita Hsiao, Philip LaZebnik, Chris Sanders, Eugenia Bostwick-Singer and Raymond Singer, and is edited by Jerry Goldsmith. Adapted from the story of the mythical warrior princess Hua Mulan, the film received some criticism for its portrayal of the Chinese culture and heritage. Nonetheless, it won positive reviews from a critical standpoint, and grossed $304.3 million against a budget of $90 million, making it an immensely profitable venture.
For this article, I have taken into account films that have similar narrative structure and visual style. Here is the list of best movies similar to ‘Mulan’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like ‘Mulan’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. The Prince of Egypt (1998)
A musical drama, ‘The Prince of Egypt’ follows Moses, the titular Egyptian prince, who, after discovering that he is the chosen one to be the deliverer of his people to peace, goes on an endeavour to realize his mission. Co-directed by Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells, and co-written by Philip LaZebnik and Nicholas Meyer, the mythos of the musical drama stems from the Book of Exodus. ‘The Prince of Egypt’ boasts of an amazing voice cast. With Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, Martin Short and Ofra Haza leading the narrative, the film is built on their resonating performances. ‘The Prince of Egypt’ went on to win the award for “Best Animated Feature” at Critics Choice Awards.
7. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Adapted from English author Lewis Carroll’s novels ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking-Glass’, published in 1865 and 1871 respectively, this musical fantasy adventure film is the story of Alice, who, after falling down the rabbit hole, finds herself in the mystical and magical world of Wonderland. Now, she has to use the magical elements in the world to escape, otherwise she will fall prey to the ruthless and conniving Queen of Hearts.
Co-directed by Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson and Hamilton Luske, the film was met with immense criticism from the literary aficionados, who complained that the film Americanized the visual aura and literary magnetism of Lewis Carroll’s vision. This was one of the major reasons why the film was a commercial failure. However, some critics had better things to say: they defended the production decision to sway from the cultural foundation of the novels, calling it an artist’s meter. Over the course of time, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ has been met with positive reception.
6. Moana (2016)
Co-directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and written by Jared Bush, ‘Moana’ chronicles the journey of Moana, the strong-willed daughter of a chief of a Polynesian village, who is chosen by the ocean to reunite a mystical artefact with a goddess. When a blight affects her island, Moana sets out on a journey to Maui, a legendary demigod, hoping to regain the heart of Te Fiti and save her people. ‘Moana’ stars the voices of Auliʻi Cravalho as the titular character and Dwayne Johnson as the shapeshifting demigod Maui. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, the musical adventure film released on November 14, 2016, at the American Film Institute Fest, and received positive reviews. With foot tapping musical pieces and resonating voice performances, ‘Moana’ holds a rating of 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also did extremely well at the box office, grossing $643.3 million against a budget of $150 million.
5. The Little Mermaid (1989)
A musical romantic fantasy film, ‘The Little Mermaid’ follows Ariel, a mermaid princess who bargains with the iniquitous sea witch Ursula, to become human and win the heart of the charming Prince Eric. Adapted from the classic fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, the film is beautiful, educating and alluring. The narrative bases its characters along the lines of classic archetypes but reinvents it with the concepts of the legend of Faust to make a complex piece of work.
‘The Little Mermaid’ released at a time when Disney was under scrutiny due to its below par films and completely revitalised the studio’s perception among critics and audiences. It was met with immensely positive reviews, with film critic Roger Ebert writing, “The Little Mermaid is a jolly and inventive animated fantasy—a movie that’s so creative and so much fun it deserves comparison with the best Disney work of the past.” With a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, the musical romantic fantasy film is one of the best Walt Disney films till date.
4. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Co-directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and written by Linda Woolverton, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is the story of a prince, who has been cursed for his arrogance to spend his days as a hideous monster, which can be broken when he finds his humanity. When the days are numbered, and the curse seems to last for eternity, Belle, an intelligent and charismatic princess, finds refuge in his castle. The film thus follows his journey to win her love and regain his humanity.
The narrative of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ finds its roots in the French fairy tale of the same name, written by novelist Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. What makes the film such a beautiful piece of art is how the story develops through the perspective of the characters; it isn’t just a visual spectacle. The film, like the aforementioned ‘The Little Mermaid’, released during the time when Disney was trying to reinvent its image and find a strong standing in cohesive storytelling. The film was met with immensely positive reviews and holds a rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.
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3. Aladdin (1992)
Adapted from the Arabic Folktale of ‘Aladdin’ from ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, the musical fantasy flick follows the magnificent story of the titular Arabian street urchin, who finds magic lamp containing a genie, and in order to hide the lamp from the villainous Grand vizier, Jafar, disguises as a wealthy prince. In the midst of doing so, he comes across the Sultan and his beautiful daughter, Jasmine, and uses the aid of the Genie to impress the two and win their hearts.
Co-directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and co-written by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Clements and Musker, ‘Aladdin’ is remembered for the hilarious and captivating performance of Robin Williams. However, what many forget are the compelling performances of Scott Weinger, Linda Larkin and Jonathan Freeman, who perfectly capture their characters with their voices, giving them distinctive identities. With captivating animation and taut direction, ‘Aladdin’ holds a rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and has become one of defining musicals of all time.
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2. Frozen (2013)
Co-directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, and written by Lee, ‘Frozen’ is a musical fantasy film which follows the story of Anna, a young fearless princess who sets off on an epic journey alongside a rugged iceman, his loyal reindeer, and a naive snowman to find her estranged older sister, Elsa, whose magical powers of controlling ice and snow inadvertently trapped their kingdom in eternal winter, and was causing her to leave the kingdom and live a hermit’s life. ‘Frozen’ has often been hailed as “the best” animated film in the modern age of Disney. There are many things to boast of, such as the foot-tapping mellifluous score and soundtrack, the brilliant animations and the epic storytelling. The musical fantasy film premiered at the El Capitan Theatre and later received a theatrical release. A critical and commercial success, ‘Frozen’ is widely considered as one of the best-animated films of all time.
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1. The Lion King (1994)
No matter how many great animation films release every year, none of them can match the class of this iconic film. A musical flick, ‘The Lion King’ is the story of Simba, a Lion cub prince whose life completely falls apart after his father, the courageous Mufasa, is murdered by his villainous uncle Scar. Accused of causing his death by Scar, Simba is outcasted. Seemingly broken, battered and defeated, he is saved by the comedic and compassionate duo of Timon and Pumbaa, fellow outcasts who help Simba rekindle his responsibilities and identity to become the king his people deserve. ‘The Lion King’ was a critical and commercial success, and in 2016, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
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