Quick Hit: Beautiful animation leads a story that is a bit too familiar to be excellent.
Pixar and Disney have always exceeded with the fairy tale formula, so it was a bit surprising when they come out and said that they would be abandoning it with Tangled (It’s obvious that was a bit of a misnomer, we got Frozen just a few years later based on a fairy tale). However, it was easy to see the comparisons and the fixes that took place to address the criticisms of Disney’s highly underrated Princess and the Frog from just a few years back. The story became simpler – fewer characters, fewer motivations, and one swashbuckler.
That’s not a bad thing for kids, but it dropped the story a bit for adults. Everyone of a certain age at least has heard of Rapunzel, so it would have been nice to see the story taken in a more interesting direction. I did like the addition of the magical healing hair, it’s something you don’t often see. But the story’s almost immediate focus on Flynn (he is even the narrator) is a bit disappointing. Though it’s nice to see Rapunzel fighting and taking care of herself (though, with a frying pan… enough said), it’s too much male focus for a female-centric story.
On a complete aside, it’s really interesting to look at some Disney films as you watch them perfect their way towards Frozen. You see Tiana give way to Rapunzel to fix some mistakes, and then, to level the field with critics of the focus on Flynn, we go an entire flip towards Brave, which has its own mistakes. From there, it was a quick skip and a jaunt over to Frozen which gives us not one, but two princesses, simultaneously magical and traditional as well as groundbreaking.
Anyways, back to Tangled. The animation style is beautiful. Very few people have seen Tangled in 3D (as it’s a dying home format, I understand why), but I highly recommend it to those that can. It’s one of the best 3D animations I’ve seen, with beautifully rounded and shadowed characters. Along with that, the colors and movements of the characters, including Rapunzel’s hair, which could be a character in and of itself, are tremendous. You forget at times (if you can get past Rapunzel’s anime inspired wide-eyes) that you are watching an animation. It’s glorious.
Finally, the music in the film is catchy and upbeat. I guess that’s what you get when you cast a former pop star as your lead, but I was nonetheless impressed. My favorite song may be the opening with Rapunzel in the tower, but there are a lot of impressive songs, including one in a bar that allows others to sing as well, and a song that I can’t help but sing whenever I think of “Motherrrrrr”. Catchy tunes aside, the words in these lyrics are very good and tell more of the story than what is on screen.
But unfortunately, what can't be overcome is the familiarity of the film. It all feels like we've been there before, and therefore it's understandable as to why Disney decided to scrap the fairy tales.
Overall, Tangled was a good addition to my Disney shelf. I’m going to give it a “B”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
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