February 12, 2011

29.01: TANGLED

Tangled is a film I initially had absolutely no desire to see. The name change from Rapunzel and the rather insipid trailers really turned me off. Disney was trying too hard to interest the young boys (the trailers focused on the dashing male hero of the film) and it just really didn't work. Thank goodness then for a number of positive reviews. Anyone who decries well written reviews from professional critics and argues that they are no longer relevant: go hang. Those reviews are what got me in to see this, Disney's 50th animated feature film.

And Tangled is something interesting: it ticks the classic animated Disney boxes: fairytale, beautiful princess, plucky animal companion, songs and an evil witch/mother but still somehow feels like it’s doing something new. And by “new” I don’t mean “shoe-horned pop-culture references” (a terrible trend that seems to be on the wane, thankfully). It may be the look of the film; the animation is truly beautiful, seamlessly blending the computer generated with the look and feel of the traditional cel animation. Or it may be the deep dark psychology of a child being snatched in the night and raised by a crazed, controlling mother figure.

Mandy Moore impresses as Rapunzel: the young princess, whose golden hair carries magical healing properties that disappear once it is cut. Hence why she is stolen away by Mother Gothel and kept locked away in a tower for 17 years. The relationship that has developed between these two is nothing short of creepy, with Mother Gothel often professing her love for her "daughter" and wanting to "protect" her from the outside world; you almost cannot help but think of the many recent real world examples of this kind of thing. Mother Gothel's imprisonment begins to unravel, however, when a young thief on the run from the Royal Guard and his own partner's in crime climbs the tower walls in a desperate bid for somewhere to hide. Chuck's Zachary Levi turns on the charm as the male hero of the tale, dashing thief with a heart of gold Flynn Rider. After seeing him as the bumbling Chuck for so long, it's a nice surprise to see (hear) him as a charming rogue - someone Chuck would so desperately want to be. He really gives it all in his performance, while managing to not come off as an annoyingly cocky character.

Overall, Tangled impressed me far more than I thought it would. The characters are (ahem) well drawn, and really brought to life by their voice actors. The animation is fantastic, with it really coming to beautiful life in a scene on a lake, surrounded by floating lanterns. The songs zing along (although they're not entirely memorable), with the best of them coming from a gang of cut-throats and ruffians. The whole thing is a wonderful fairytale, that could only have been told like it is by the Mouse House. Disney may no longer be the sole animation giant it used to be, but Tangled shows that they've still got some of that magic.

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