Though Disney distributes all of Pixar’s films, the magic never quite seems to wear off on its own animated features. Movies like Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons and Bolt weren’t bad: they just weren’t Pixar quality. But that was before Tangled. With its gallery of never-before-seen effects, Tangled was a huge surprise, becoming my favorite animated movie of 2010 and the best CG animated film Disney has made to date.
At first glance, Tangled would seem to be a simple children’s film, primarily aimed at little girls. This couldn’t further from the truth. It is beautifully animated, entertaining, exciting and the funniest animated film you will see starring a chameleon (After watching Rango I disregard the last part of this sentence).
It feels like an old Disney film in 3D but sheds any of the eye-roll-inducing cliches like a helpless princess who needs rescue, or the noble prince who falls in love at first sight. Instead, the princess is strong and is fully capable of taking care of herself through the awesome power of hair-fu – of which, more later.
Tangled stars Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), who has spent her entire life locked up in a tower by her mother, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), who uses Rapunzel’s magic hair to maintain her youth. After meeting a thief named Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), Rapunzel blackmails him into helping fulfill her lifelong dream: to watch the kingdom’s floating lantern event, which occurs once a year, coincidentally on her birthday.
Joining them are her pet chameleon, Pascal, and a horse named Maximus, who seem to be engaged in a battle for the title of funniest animal sidekick (a contest which Maximus wins hooves down). Adventure, excitement, hilarity and tragedy ensue as the four make their way to the kingdom with Mother Gothel in pursuit.
Movies like this are what Blu-ray was made for. Even the dust particles floating in the rays of sunlight appear crisp and clear. When Rapunzel flings around her hair – and there are 70 feet of it with 100,000 individual strands, so hats off to whoever rigged the thing – it never fails to astonish.
But what I consider to be the best scene is when Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are surrounded by over 45,000 illuminated lanterns. On a 1080p television, it just takes your breath away. The texture on the costumes and the unbelievably detailed environments make this one of the most beautiful Blu-rays I have ever seen.
The only faults in the film seem more like missed opportunities than mistakes. The music is forgettable and the songs, although not necessarily bad, won’t stick with you like other Disney classics. A bigger peeve is the villain. Disney’s villains are some of the most popular and most menacing of all time, but while Mother Gothel is manipulative and selfish, she feels like a shadow of bad guys gone by. More importantly, there isn’t enough hair-fu. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about…
This scene is not in the movie. I mean, why? This woman has an accuracy and efficiency with her hair that is rivaled only by the world’s top assassins.
Other gripes: extra features are lacking, with the Blu-ray only including teaser trailers and the numerous TV spots. I was looking forward to a proper making of feature with interviews with the real creative brains behind the piece: instead, I got Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi spouting random facts. The movie deserved more.
But a few missed opportunities can’t ruin a wonderful film – and Tangled is a movie I guarantee you will watch over and over again. The characters are enjoyable, and the effects are unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Pixar will need to step up its game, because Disney animation is finally starting to catch up.
Tangled is available on Walt Disney Blu-ray and DVD on 29 March in the US, and worldwide later this year.
View a slideshow of art from the movie: