Words: Saam Das
'Tangled' (UK Release: 28 Jan '11)
Director: Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Voice cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Ron Perlman, Donna Murphy
Walt Disney Animation Studios has traditionally been a powerhouse in animated feature films but over the last couple of decades or so, its stock has dropped immensely. It has however undergone somewhat of a renaissance in the last few years.
I took an unintentional leave of absence from Disney films following 'The Hunchback Of Notre Dame' in 1996 till 2008's wonderful animal caper, 'Bolt'. Critical acclaim also followed with 2009's 'The Princess And The Frog', which garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. 'Tangled', Disney's 50th animated feature film, has continued the recent trend of acclaimed Disney animations.
'Tangled' is Disney's take on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, 'Rapunzel'. A tried and tested formula. Except this has songs. SONGS! No-one told me anything about songs. Sneaky buggers. Musical numbers aren't really my thing, although when done well as in 'The Lion King', they can add to my enjoyment of a film. In this case, I wasn't exactly thrilled by the musical offerings but thankfully, only a few were on offer.
The story follows lost princess Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and thief Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) as their lives intertwine. Throw in Rapunzel's evil "mother", an inexplicably persistent horse named Maximus, and the best sidekick I've seen in a film in a while - Pascal, the loveable chameleon.
Pascal reminded me a lot of Abu in 'Aladdin'. In fact, the whole film reminded me a lot of 'Aladdin', with similar backdrops of random songs and royalty, along with an evil guardian and a thief-with-a-heart-of-gold. As in 'Aladdin', there are also some dark moments in 'Tangled', to the extent that this film is actually rated PG. Best not to take very young children into the film.
Not that I didn't enjoy 'Tangled', it's just that I preferred the tale of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine over Flynn and Rapunzel. Some of that has to do with the cheap ways in which Flynn's character undergoes a metamorphosis but I suppose mostly it's to do with the traditional fairytale structure. 'Aladdin' felt new and inventive despite borrowing heavily from source material and I guess I'd have liked the people behind 'Tangled' to have pushed the creative boundaries more. I must be getting old.
Visually, however, the film is majestic. For a budget of upwards of $200 million, you'd expect no less. But even then, at times, it is breathtaking. The floating lanterns scene toward the end of the film will gain all the plaudits yet it's the amount of detail elsewhere that astounded me. From Rapunzel's lustrous locks, to the mane of Maximus, and even the eyebrows of Flynn - the amount of time and money that must have gone into the CGI boggles the mind. But the end result is really quite magnificent.
'Tangled' might be a visually stunning and enjoyable animation but I just wish that Disney had spent a little less time and money concerning themselves with the look of the film, and a little more on refreshing the 'Rapunzel' story further.
'Tangled' is on release throughout UK cinemas.