TANGLED Review

by     Posted 3 years, 282 days ago

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Tangled could have been a disaster. Directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard really pushed for something different by attempting to modernize a classic tale for contemporary audiences while combining the classic storylines and imagery of Disney’s illustrious past. All of that experimentation can unbalance a film by leaning too heavily on one side or the other, but Tangled does a remarkable job at harmonizing the past and present. Gorgeous CG, an involving and up-tempo score, and some of the best sidekicks seen on screen propel this take on the character of Rapunzel. There is a sense of contemporary fun throughout the film, and yet the heart remains where it should; right in the middle.  My full review after the jump:

Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) has sheltered and raised Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) as her own to utilize her mysterious restorative hair, but the world beckons to the young girl from her secluded tower in the form of floating lanterns each year on the day of her birth. When smooth talking thief Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) seeks the shelter of the tower after stealing a crown, he is lured into guiding Rapunzel and her pet chameleon Pascal to the lanterns on the promise that his stolen crown will be the reward. Despite Rapunzel having mixed emotions about leaving, they have nowhere to go but forward when the vigilant palace horse Maximus, Mother Gothel, and the Stabbington Brothers (Ron Perlman) come after them. As their journey brings them closer to danger, truths are revealed that will forever affect themselves and the kingdom around them.

The journey is the bulk of the film, which is a curious twist on the story of Rapunzel. Instead of lingering in the tower as the Grimm fairytale does, Tangled opts to leave the tower behind within the first 15 minutes of the film. Right away, we know that this isn’t going to stick to the conventions of the story which it is based, which is fine by co-directors Nathan and Byron. The duo bring a knack for action set pieces that propel the story forward along the 100 minute runtime and yet the film delivers two emotional punches. One is subtle, while the other is obvious, and they continually play with that mixture throughout.

While Tangled takes inspiration from the tale of Rapunzel, the entire cast of characters is what makes the film such a success. Flynn has a fun sense of humor and his wit is blisteringly quick; some of his lines will fly over the heads of young ones but register completely with the older audience. Meanwhile, Rapunzel is immature and goofy, but has a voracious appetite for exploration that her tower simply cannot quell. Then we have Mothel Gothel, who is dark and cunning, and manages to form a mother/daughter bond that is realistically twisted. Murphy provides the perfect mixture that makes Mother Gothel so haunting. She can’t help but fall for the alluring Rapunzel, but their relationship is based on lies and deception for Gothel’s gain. She has no magical power of her own, so she has to be subtle in her deceits, which to me makes her one of the best villains in the heritage of Disney. Luckily, the great characters don’t stop there.

Slapstick is a constant source of laughter for the younger audience members, and it frequently stems from Pascal and Maximus, two of the most memorable animal sidekicks you likely have seen. While neither character talks, both are expressive in their own ways. Pascal changes color based on mood and is a positive inspiration for Rapunzel throughout the film. As for Maximus, he is part horse, part super cop and has an entire character arc within the film. Again, we see the directors playing with conventions as Maximus has decidedly canine temperaments that play out incredibly well on screen; when was the last time you saw a horse wag its tail?

Speaking of the screen, the animation is where the film really makes every effort to impress. Over the last few years, animation has made incredible leaps and bounds in ways that many audience members may have not noticed. However, when you deal with a film about Rapunzel, you have to account for 70 feet of flowing blonde hair, and hair is something many animated CG films struggle with even today. If the hair doesn’t work, Tangled doesn’t work; period. That’s why animation director Glen Keane, known for his fluid drawing and characters that deal with hair, and his animation team are worthy of praise. You may never notice how natural the characters and their hair moves, but that is the goal; to blend in and become seamless.

The art throughout the film is also playing with old and new. The target is to bring the sensibility of hand-drawn animation to a CG film, and that’s where the beauty of Tangled resides. The characters and backgrounds feel like classic Disney, but with modern techniques and visual appeal. You would be forgiven for mistaking stills of the film as traditional animation. Additionally, the stereoscopic 3D really pops in a number of scenes, including a climactic lake scene at night, but nothing is thrown at the screen. Whether you see that as a gimmick or not, it means the 3D isn’t integral to the experience of the film; it’s the cherry on this tasty cake and some people don’t like cherries or want to pay for them.

Experimenting with different mixtures also seeps its way into the musical scores in Tangled, and that’s where eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken shows his versatility. Menken has been a Disney staple on their animated musicals, and his talent shines through on Mother Gothel’s Mother Knows Best. Catchy and dark, there are a number of variations to the tempo and tone throughout the film while the lyrics, nailed by Murphy, will stay with you. Meanwhile, Menken went a different direction with Rapunzel’s songs. Joni Mitchell is an influence on When Will My Life Begin?, and the barebones use of guitar provides a different feel. One can easily see the parallels that Menken and the directors went for in blending old with new, and there is an interesting result. Mother Gothel’s songs feel as ancient as she is, while Rapunzel’s songs have a truly youthful exuberance and feel.

There are pitfalls, as the film’s constant mixture of tones can feel a bit off-putting for some. Inspiration is unabashedly taken from a number of eras and the darkness of the film isn’t quite as dark as past films in the illustrious history of Disney, and yet it feels more real. Gothel’s character is grounded in reality and her relationship with Rapunzel is a disturbing showcase of subtle brainwashing. Yet, Gothel will likely be one of the fan favorite characters–even for the little ones.

In the end, Tangled makes for a tasty smoothie that utilizes freshly picked ideas from Greno and Howard, while the classic storyline of discovery and adventure provide the usual vanilla standbys. There are exciting twists and turns when the film works, and the few pitfalls in the clashing tones of the characters aren’t enough to keep the ball from rolling. While Disney may not have the dominating foothold on animated films like they used to, if they continue to make films with this much heart and fun there is no doubt they can remain viable in this increasingly competitive genre.




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  • Hamptonx

    wats up tangled fans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i just looooovvvveee it it is soo romanic and funny at the sames time it picks u up out of yo seat and take u on adventure so i say rock it on tangled and show da haters whos boss

  • Mshavzin

    I didn’t love it, but it did make me laugh a few times. Its OK. I guss i like more serious people then Rupunzel. Im getting tired of the “Im not a anything like a princess” princesses. They tend to incorporate the worst of both worlds. They are still spoiled “I want it my way” little brats. But they don’t have the gravity to make it work. i don’t really see anything wrong with people being romantic without making a joke out of it. So its not a romance that I like. I also don’t like couples that fight, then grow close, then fight, then grow close. That is so overdone. Just either hate each other and go separate, or love each other and be in each others corner at all times. But one or the other. I did like the horse and the chameleon, I suppose. What i wanted to ask about was the start…
    I didn’t get just why the king had the right to send in his goons and steal a flower growing on a woman’s property. Even if his queen was ill, it doesn’t give him the right to take other peoples stuff. I don’t go to my neighbors and take their medicine if my boyfriend gets sick! Did I miss something? Who can blame the witch for simply wanting what was stolen back. Its tough when a king takes stuff from people. I would have just tied the little chit up and squished her frog, and not given her any psychological nonsense. Just threaten her with a whip.

    • emmych

      I think that a relationship that begins with a bit of conflict is attractive in its own way. While it is nice for couples to be in each other’s corners all the time from day one, life can’t always work like that. People clash sometimes and that creates tension, which, frankly, makes for an interesting storyline. They have to solve their problems and grow as people. I mean, think of it this way: who is a more interesting couple? Cinderella and Charming, or Rapunzel and Flynn? Phillip and Sleeping Beauty or the Beast and Belle? Ariel and Eric, or Tiana and Naveen? As the female characters started having values, there began to be clashes in those values which gave characters an opportunity to learn from each other which makes for an interesting storyline.
      Also, this kind of relationship is appealing to the 15-25ish crowd as it is overflowing with sexual tension. It’s got that “will they or won’t they?” charm.
      Also, I think that flower was growing somewhere and Gothel randomly found it. My guess is the King and Queen didn’t know about her before hand, otherwise they would have a) asked her first, or b) hunted her down and gotten their daughter back. Seriously – would she have been so hard to find? I mean, she has to get her groceries from somewhere, and that tower is only a little ways away from the kingdom. (Speaking of that – why so damn close? Why didn’t she move to Timbuktu or something? That way, Rapunzel would never have seen those lights and would never have dreamed of going to see them.)

    • emmych

      I think that a relationship that begins with a bit of conflict is attractive in its own way. While it is nice for couples to be in each other’s corners all the time from day one, life can’t always work like that. People clash sometimes and that creates tension, which, frankly, makes for an interesting storyline. They have to solve their problems and grow as people. I mean, think of it this way: who is a more interesting couple? Cinderella and Charming, or Rapunzel and Flynn? Phillip and Sleeping Beauty or the Beast and Belle? Ariel and Eric, or Tiana and Naveen? As the female characters started having values, there began to be clashes in those values which gave characters an opportunity to learn from each other which makes for an interesting storyline.
      Also, this kind of relationship is appealing to the 15-25ish crowd as it is overflowing with sexual tension. It’s got that “will they or won’t they?” charm.
      Also, I think that flower was growing somewhere and Gothel randomly found it. My guess is the King and Queen didn’t know about her before hand, otherwise they would have a) asked her first, or b) hunted her down and gotten their daughter back. Seriously – would she have been so hard to find? I mean, she has to get her groceries from somewhere, and that tower is only a little ways away from the kingdom. (Speaking of that – why so damn close? Why didn’t she move to Timbuktu or something? That way, Rapunzel would never have seen those lights and would never have dreamed of going to see them.)

      • Bill Graham

        Wonderfully said. I agree with what you are touching on. I don’t believe the magic flower was on Gothel’s property either. Besides, she was a lone woman. During that time, women didn’t own property. It’s never expressly stated whether the flower was on open land or someone specifically.

        And yes, the idea of having no conflict in a relationship is quite dull.

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  • Patriots83

    all i can say is, i stood up and appaluded this movie when it ended as everyone did in the theater, havent seen this happen in years DISNEY WIN, oh and by the way im a dude lol

  • Ayesha

    I loved the movie…. Its cute and realistic in it’s own way.

  • Jessica

    i liked the movie but diddnt love it.

  • Hayley

    LOVE IT!!! LOVE IT!!! LOVE IT!!! one of the best movies disney has come up! and that pan funniest thing EVER! ;) there is nothing wrong with it, may be a little tiny (veryvery small) part that might be fixed like using hair to swing or something but HEY! it’s a KIDS MOVIE! and damn good one if i say so myself. And for the relationship between Rapunzel and Flynn it is good, they both have minds of their own and they clash once in a while, and if you’re trying to find a relationship with out conflicts and find one i’ll eat a toad. Oh and one more thing, i have no idea where the idea came up that Rapunzel is spoiled, hello the girl is locked in a tower for 18 years, gets yelled at, has her feelings hurt, knows no one else but that evil witch and Pastal, can’t even get what she really wants for her own B-DAY, doesn’t even know her own parents and reads the same three books over again! if that’s spoiled girl, than i want to see a damn unspoiled one!

  • steven

    Wonderful movie. It was well said that it has the “will they or won’t they?” charm. I enjoyed the movie greatly as i am soft hearted and easily get into these types of movies just as well as a full on action counterpart. However, i felt as though the movie was a bit rushed. And by a bit, i mean Rushed. Maybe its because im spoiled by these 2 and a half hour movies were i get a decent amount of time to connect into. 4.5 /5. I wish it was longer ;…..(

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  • Anthony

    Well, even though a lot of reviews stated that Tangled isn’t really a good film because it was not rated high, I still believe it’s a fantastic movie and a must-watch for Disney fans. I wonder why the first few comments argue about the bad unreasonable plot Disney has come up with? I mean it’s a freaking fairy tale movie what could you expect? Well a lot of people of my age (around 16) also believe that it’s truly a great movie with mind-blowing, heart-melting romance and adventure scenes ( not exaggerating). Many of my male friends at first thought that it’s just another sissy movie about princesses but after watching Tangled, they changed their minds completely! From my standpoint Tangled is one of the best Disney movies ever made.

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