various artists,
Mulan II
(Walt Disney, 2004)

Walt Disney was a visionary. With the successful debut of Mortimer Mouse (later called Mickey), Disney created a cartoon empire with such classics as Fantasia, Snow White and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, to name but a few. Disney's animatronic creations of small children from around the world, which debuted at the 1964 World's Fair in New York City, as well as numerous projects that became standards for the genre, eventually led to the Disney name becoming a brand.

However, as a sometime Luddite, and in context with this review, Mulan II is of such poor quality that I am tempted to compare it to early anime, rather than the more sophisticated standards for Disney's classic offerings. With its all-over-the-place music and cheap caricatures of characters in the movie as well as the CD, Mulan II is vastly inferior to Mulan. In fact, comparing the two movies/soundtracks in a cultural context is similar to comparing righteous Asian cuisine to certain canned meals that claim to be "genuine."

In its 2004 sequel to Mulan, the songs, graphics and other touches are sadly lacking, and do not demonstrate the meticulous craftsmanship of its predecessor. The music starts with "Lesson Number One" as sung by Lea Salonga, a singer of some note, with a long history with Disney productions as well as Broadway staples such as Miss Saigon. Unlike other soundtracks, however, Mulan II starts with a song by the main character, then continues to the "Main Title (Score)," as it is called on the CD. In a few instances, characters from the original score appear, although Harvey Fierstein, Jerey Tondo, Gedde Watanabe and Randy Crenshaw sing in "A Girl Worth Fighting For (redux)," which zips right along, albeit poorly. None of the music on this CD is memorable, particularly by the audience of young people for whom this mishmash was conceived.

With the dearth of music programs available in public schools today and the multi-cultural nature of the United States, it would seem logical for a powerful organization like Disney to be more interested in fostering music, theatre and artistic programs for young people. Also, as a grace note, and given the many losses of cultural venues and the like post-hurricanes Katrina and Rita, with so many displaced musicians, the recent bad press at some of its theme parks, being sued by board members and the closure of its Disney boutiques, Disney's empire could afford to infuse time, talents and treasure into some foundations to aid the many people affected by these catastrophes.

by Ann Flynt
10 December 2005

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