Tangled has the distinction of being the 50th animated film to emerge from Walt Disney studios. Lot of miles there. From being the king of the animated world, to the loss of direction in the 70’s and 80’s to the boom of The Little Mermaid and the run of animated hits that followed, to the complete lack of direction again in the 21st century. At this point you have no idea what to expect from the Mouse house, and often can expect better from Pixar. And yet Tangled is one of their better films, a charming version of the Rapunzel story, where the princess (Mandy Moore) doesn’t need rescuing as much as the would-be prince (Zachary Levi) does. Check out our Blu-ray review after the jump.
The film beings with Rapunzel being kidnapped for her hair. She’s raised by an evil woman (Donna Murphy) who wants to use the hair’s magical powers of rejuvenation. And such leads her to locking Rapunzel into a tower. Her family thinks she is lost, and mourns her. Flynn Ryder (Levi) wants to be Han Solo, or would if he had seen that movie. He steals a crown with the Stabbington brothers (Ron Perlman), and then crosses paths with Rapunzel. Flynn is also being pursued by the military in her family, with the horse Maximus his most strident foe. Rapunzel has never left her castle, and wants to finally see the outside world. From there she and Rider… well, you can figure it out.
Though the plot is familiar, the writing is deft, and the film has an energy to it. Disney last tried 2-D cell animation, and though this film is both 3-D and computer animated, it has the feel of old Disney, though it definitely has a more modern verve than their more classical narratives. But the relationship between the characters is strong and the film gets great mileage out of Maximus the horse and his desire for justice. And when the horse melts for Rapunzel, it works and you grow to like both characters for it.
The film is also very strong in the third act when the plot comes together, and things get tense. Though the finale falls into deus ex machine territory, it’s impressive how the film makes you suffer a little with the characters, and the film seems to go darker than the majority of recent Disney films (though not as far as Toy Story 3, at least in terms of length). But this is much smarter and sharper than to be expected, and it feels like the studio has found their legging. It’s unknown if this will lead to more or better, but directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard made a solid work.
Disney’s 2-D Blu-ray comes with the film in 1080p widescreen (1.78:1) and in 7.1 DTS-HD surround. The transfer of this film is reference quality. Pitch perfect. The set also comes with a DVD copy of the film. Extras include two versions of the alternate opening (7 min.) with director introduction, a countdown of the 50 animated movies made by Walt Disney (2 min.). There’s also three deleted scenes with director introductions (12 min.), two extended songs (7 min.), a brief making of (12 min.) hosted by Levi and Moore, and trailers for this and other Disney films. Not a great special edition, all things.