Thursday, October 21, 2010

It takes 2 sides to get Tangled

We just returned from what the reps from Disney told us was the first ever showing of the completed version of Tangled, Disney's 50th animated feature. I'll cut to the chase. It's good. Really GOOD. As many of you know, Tangled has pretty much spent the past 20 years going through development hell, under many different rendering styles, animation styles, and even titles. Well, it's finally completed and totally worth the wait.

Tangled feels more like a princess movie than last years Princess and the Frog did. But that's not a bad thing at all, the film does just as good a job of staying accessible to boys, girls, adults, and parents. The male lead, "Flynn Rider," is just as important and shares the screen equally with Rapunzel, the princess. Rapunzel fits in perfectly well with Disney's group of tiara-bearing girls, despite her added dimension, and "Flynn" holds his own as a male lead with his sarcastic wit and heart. The animal characters are incredibly entertaining as well, while I knew going in that the chameleon, Pascal, would be a show stealer, I was not expecting him to be completely upstaged by the horse, Maximus. The villain, Mother Gothel, was a decent threat, and helped to move the story forward, but ultimately the story was complex enough that you could not label her as the source of the major conflict in the film, just an antagonizer. I'll admit that the story is at times predictable, but there are a few unexpected moments, and the great voice acting helps to keep you as an audience member on your toes, it's really the meat that surrounds the skeleton of the story that really makes the film unique. The humor is great, largely universal, and there is a lot of good, heartfelt, emotional scenes, on par with some of the best scenes in classics such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

The movie does have a few songs, it does not have as many songs as most Disney musicals typically do, but the songs that are there are excellently staged, well varied, and accompanied by engaging visuals. They may not be seem as memorable at first in comparison to some Disney classics, but upon repeated listening they WILL grow on you. I will say that I was pretty impressed by the singer for Mother Gothel, I'm not sure whether or not it was Donna Murphy singing the role as well as voicing it, but if so... props to her! Also, the love ballad is destined to become a favorite. Something that surprised me though, is how the instrumental music took the center stage just as well as the musical numbers. There were some great pieces of score in this film, particularly during a montage around the halfway point of the film. Another thing I'd like to commend the film for are the pantomime characters. Maximus and Pascal were perfect, they said more without opening their mouths than they ever could with a voice. There are actually a lot of really good dialogue free scenes in the film between many of the characters.
On the technical side... my god. Where to begin?! This. Film. Is. GORGEOUS. The animation is astounding... fluid, lifelike, and ... just pure Disney magic. There's some really great character pieces in this film that should serve as great reference material for character animators. I was going to try and single out a character as my favorite, animation-wise, but I can't bring myself to choose just one, they're ALL great. There is one musical number that takes place in a bar that comes to mind as being a smörgåsbord of little character moments, each attempting to top the last. The characters are modeled exceedingly well, and clearly gave the animators a lot to work with. The lighting in the movie is also worth noting, if you couldn't already tell from the trailers. There are some beautiful environments throughout the film, and all of them are given an extra helping of life by the tremendous lighting. There's also some great effects animation in this film, specifically some sweet water effects, and obviously some superb hair effects, those hair effects technicians really earned their paychecks. Another aspect of the film that is worth paying attention to is the cinematography. This film feels like a 2D film that jumped off the paper, the camera language just makes you feel like you're watching a traditionally animated Disney film, it just makes the action on the screen feel that much better. Although the showing wasn't in stereoscopic 3D, I could tell that this film would be worth the extra admission price to see it so. We've already decided to see the film again opening night just to see it in 3D.
Overall I'm really glad that this film didn't turn out to be a waste of time for the studio. They should be proud to add it to their library, and so should you! I WILL say that it's probably not as good as Toy Story 3, it's definitely up there with How To Train Your Dragon as one of the best animated films of the year. I strongly recommend Tangled to you all, especially if you appreciate the Disney legacy, or animation in general. Whether on the entertainment side, or the technical side, this film has something for everyone. There's a lot there, so please, come Wednesday, November 24th, go see this film.

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