Out of all of Disney´s animated films, ” Mulan ” was the one that made the most sense as a live-action remake. Not that there haven´t been good and charming live-action remakes over the past decade – Kenneth Branagh´s “Cinderella” being at the top of the pack – but with most of them no matter how expensive or carefully executed or reverent to the source material, I usually walk out wishing I´d just watched the animated version instead. Part of that might be age. I was in the generation who got to experience Disney´s animated renaissance in real time in the theaters – unaware of course that it was a renaissance, but simply that the films I got to see in the theater and then on home video were something special. Perhaps it didn´t crystalize just how special they were and are until the live-action remakes became a regular part of the release calendar. Many just weren´t as enchanting or effective as their predecessors. That is mostly a compliment to the gold standard that is the animation. It would be shocking for a live-action version to somehow be better or even equal. Just look at the animated Hakuna Matata next to the “real” one. There is a reason most of these stories were animated in the first place. “Mulan” was different, though. The animated tale is wonderful and full of fantastic songs, but it´s a war epic. The story, about a young Chinese woman who steps in to serve the army in her aging and ailing father´s place, is naturally and fundamentally suited for the format.And make no mistake, director Niki Caro´s “Mulan” is without a doubt one of the best of the remakes. It is stunning to look at from beginning to end. The crisp landscapes (shot by cinematographer Mandy Walker), the brightly colored and divinely intricate costumes (from Bina Daigeler), the elaborate fight sequences and the actors faces – especially Liu Yifei, who plays Mulan – are so beautiful that it will take your breath away. It´s abundantly evident that Caro (“Whale Rider”) had a grand and sweeping vision for “Mulan” and for the most part she pulls it off.