Friday, 28 January 2011

Tangled

Rapunzel, the young girl with the long hair, lives in a tall tower with Gothel, an elderly witch who kidnapped Rapunzel as a baby after learning her hair had the magical power to heal the sick and to keep her young, and now raises her as her own. Yet, she yearns to leave the tower to watch the floating lights which appear every year on her birthday. When Flynn Rider, a young thief looking for a place to hide, turns up, an opportunity presents itself for Rapunzel to leave the tower and begin an adventure which has repercussions for everyone involved...

Since I’ve started this blog, I have (somewhat) voluntarily lifted my self-imposed embargo on animated films; I’ve been catching up on the Pixar films I’ve missed – I’m yet to see a bad one of those. I’ve also watched Shrek 4 (atrocious) and Shrek 1 (OK, not as great as has been made out) due to finally developing an interest. This brings me to this: My first Disney film in at least 10 years, which just so happens to be Disney’s 50th animated feature. So what did I think? It was... Interesting.

Rapunzel is a story that has been done to death in various mediums, appearing in Shrek the Third and even Barbie got her own version in 2002. Now, we have a Disney version, but is it really? All the marketing suggests not: Calling the story Tangled makes it far less gender specific, and there’s been an awful lot of focus on the male lead as well as Rapunzel. You might think they were trying to market a princess film to boys. So what’s different? Well, this time, Rapunzel’s a confident and assertive young woman who isn’t technically rescued from her tower but choose to leave of her own fruition. Also, this time around, her hair has magical qualities, able to heal the wounded and restore youth, which explains why the evil witch Gothel kidnapped her and kept her in the tower.

In a way it’s good that Disney have taken their own twist on a classic story, but it almost feels wrong that they’ve messed around with folklore and legend; it’s almost akin to the Twilight series messing around with vampires. The difference is, whereas Twilight is trash, this was actually alright. It’s got something for everyone really: Rapunzel is obviously for the girls, along with all the musical numbers. Flynn Rider is for the boys, as well as all the fighting/action sequences. For the adults, the film’s a nice combination of comedy and drama, or at least there’s enough to keep you sitting through it for its 90 minutes without wanting to claw your face off. Particularly at the end, there’s a scene which could potentially be tear-inducing: it’s no ‘toys in the incinerator’ but it might set a few people off.

As for the film itself, the animation looks very sharp and it’s the first animated feature I’ve seen which has gotten hair and water pretty near perfect. The hair was, of course, pretty important to get right, and they’ve achieved it. I get the feeling their quest to perfect digital hair was the main reason why Tangled has become the second most expensive production of all time, costing a huge $260 million. What, 260 million dollars on drawings?! Did they colour it with gold?! Never mind that, yes, it looked really good, but I did not see this in 3D, so I can’t attest to how god that’ll be, though if Toy Story 3 was anything to go by, it’ll probably be top class with plenty of hair-whipping back and forth.

One thing which is troubling me is the voice cast. The voice of Rapunzel is Mandy Moore, someone who has been out of public consciousness for years, and the voice of Flynn is Zachary Levi, the guy from Chuck. They’re fine, but it just seems like a couple of weird choices for such a high-profile film. Mandy Moore was obviously chosen for her singing ability, which has become an important part of Rapunzel’s legend, and Zachary Levi chosen to give a comic twist to the bravado and masculinity of Flynn. There aren’t really any big names in the supporting cast either, only Brad Garrett (from Everybody Loves Raymond), Ron Perlman (from Hellboy) and Jeffrey Tambor (from Arrested Development) – No major Hollywood celebrities. In comparison, Dreamworks had Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt in their last feature. Can you see the disparity?

Overall, it’s not the best animated film I’ve seen the last few months, but in no way is it the worst. It seems like this might be Disney’s attempt at creating their own Shrek, and I would say this one’s better, but that’s not really saying a lot given my opinion of Shrek. It’s nice, good combination of everything you’d want to see from a modern family film, and it doesn’t seem to drag at any point, it keeps itself going all the way until the end. Unfortunately, there are about five different stories going on all at once, so at times you do face the risk of becoming tangled in the plot. See what I did there?

Rating: ***1/2