Disney have their on and off decades and if Tangled is anything to go by, the next 10 years could very well be on again!
To put it simply; Tangled tells the age-old tale of Rapunzel; a golden child with magical hair which glows when she sings and is capable of curing wounds and replenishing aged skin. Being a Disney princess, of course it isn’t long until she lands herself in trouble and she is duly kidnapped by Gothel; a woman obsessed with eternal beauty. She then hides Rapunzel in a very high tower, hiding her from the rest of the world and raising her as her own.
The adventure comes along in the form of a thief, Flynn Rider, who in during an awkward escape happens upon the tower. His meeting with Rapunzel is fairly humorous as the two form a pact and head out into the world forbidden to her in search of some, er, enlightenment.
The rest you can figure out as this is classic in the sense of classic Disney. It is also perhaps the next step up for them too. While the writing is strong, they have also modernized a few tricks and used much computer generated imagery that blends in with the old style of animated creating an incredibly beautiful fantasy land. But they have also taken a few bolder choices: before they would not dare show much in the way of death or blood but here they are prepared to make children cry (and cry they will!) by showing a lot of the pain and agony heroes go through in the pursuit of heroism and even in a villain’s comeuppance which they were hesitant to do so in the past (see Beauty and the Beast for one of the biggest cop outs when it came to dealing with their villain – honestly? He slipped?)
Tangled may frighten the kids a bit in places, but adults will be relieved that Disney finally got themselves a bit of a stronger stomach this time round.
The cast of characters are all very likeable from our leads to their eventual sidekicks. The lizard, Pascal, is silently emotive but the horse, Maximus, is one of the funniest antagonistic heroes seen for many a year and has it in him to win over every member in the crowd. We also have a very fresh and effective villain, and even a half decent cast of supporting characters which liven the atmosphere up.
It should be of no surprise that Disney have roped in Alan Menken for musical duties as he is an almost guaranteed bonus with a long back catalogue of Oscar nominated songs and scores. Here, the score is wonderful and the songs are back to a standard where they really stand out. Two highlights include “Mother Knows Best” which is sung by the actress Donna Murphy with a commanding voice, and the accompanying visuals also lay on a sense of threatening gloom. Also “I Have A Dream,” which is one of the more comical tunes, but it is very lively and promotes a great message to younger and older audiences alike.
Less successful are the lovey-dovey tunes the couple share or basically anything fronted by Mandy Moore (who voiced Rapunzel). If you like her style then you’ll be fine, but otherwise they are fairly two dimensional in their content. But you can’t have it all.
The 3D is ok if you like it. The film will work just as well on 2D, but during a couple of scenes the technology was more than a little uncomfortable to watch, as they showed-off by playing with the focus (add 3D on top of that and you have yourself a splitting headache).
Overall, Tangled is a huge step up from what we have seen from Disney in recent years. The Princess and the Frog came tantalisingly close as it had a very strong start but got a bit mediocre in the second half. Tangled starts promisingly enough (although in parts threatens to be monotonous) but suddenly bursts with an energy that is hard to match and runs with it right through to the end.