Disney... I'm not really a fan. Or at least not a fan of their recent animations. The new stuff is very difficult to figure out, for a good few years now they've either been losing the fight with Pixar or trying to be them. Notable recent pictures include Bolt which I really enjoyed the first five minutes of but the rest was forgettable and Up, which is fantastic but is clearly a Pixar film which Disney merely 'presented' meaning that they stumped up cash to get their name on it.
The problem is that with the advent of 3D animation technology, they lost their identity. When you look at Mickey Mouse, Belle, The Beast, Dumbo, Snow White, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Bashful and Doc they are clearly Disney. You don't need the opening credits to tell you, you just know. It's more than this too, it is the way they move, the colours and the dialogue. Disney films weren't all cotton wool and smiles either. Two of the scariest scenes I can think of in film are the dream sequence from Dumbo and the donkey scene in Pinocchio. Samuel Armstrong directed many of these early films and he achieved a balance of sentimentality, drama and comedy perfectly to ensure entertainment for all ages. The juxtaposition of harsh, scolding wicked stepmothers with the funny, cute friends of our heroes and heroins ensure that it is never too serious for delicate little ones and not too cutesy for us big hard men.
Anyway, I was not looking forward to Tangled, I put off going to see it for a couple of weeks just because I couldn't be bothered. I went to a midday showing on a cold Monday afternoon with nothing better to do. And it was great.
Everything that I like about the old films is there, but it's shiny and new, they've not gone back to the old times, they've brought themselves up to date. Rapunzel (Mandy Moore; I have no idea who she is) is great, she is an up to date princess, strong yet vulnerable, pretty and intelligent. Flynn (the male lead, Zachary Levi) is again a move forward for the Disney male, he is flawed but ultimately honorable, the chiseled jaw is not so chiseled and has a shade of boy band stubble. Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) is a menacing captor, scary and funny, I'm also pretty sure she's modeled on Cher, which is nice. Like the old films, the animals do not talk, Pascal the chameleon and Maximillion the horse are excellent supporting cast and comic relief, anthropomorphism is not over used and is effective.
If you've ever read the Grimm fairytale you'll be in for a few surprises, this is largely an original plot with only the bare bones being true to the classic story. The writing is funny, I laughed out loud at least once, N.B. keep an eye out for a scene where Pascal wakes Flynn up, I was willing it to happen but never thought it would. The music is full production with an early sequence reminiscent of 'A Chorus Line'. The animation is smooth and flowing, the hair technology particularly is put to very good use. Even the 3D, which it is no secret that I think is over used to the point of insulting, doesn't get in the way too much, though the film clearly doesn't need it. The much talked about paper lantern scene, which definitely benefits from cinema viewing, could still live without it. I'm very happy I saw it, and like with most films, very happy I saw it on the big screen.
If you like Beauty and the Beast, Snow White or any classic Disney you'll like this. If you like modern 3D animation you like this too. If you only like films with car chases and explosions, maybe give it a miss. Show it to the kids, watch it yourself, it's a good film.