Tangled – Review

Tangled (2010)

Directed by Nathan Greno, Byron Howard. Starring Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy

Disney’s 50th animated feature came at a time which was overloaded by all types of cartoons. With the likes of Madagascar, Ice Age and especially Shrek, which had been so irreverent towards fairy tales (and princesses singing to birds) it seemed almost impossible for the Mouse House to go back to their origins and produce another fairy tale.
And yet, the wonderful thing about Tangled is that underneath all the pointy/tricksy 3D effects, the visual splendor , the ultra-saturated colours, and the sharp humour (which we’ve now become to expect from these types of films), it is actually a very traditional Disney story and yes it has a princess singing to birds barefoot in the forest. And you know what? It works!!!
It has been slightly updated for the 21st century audience, but it has not lost the heart and the magic: here the princess is not just pretty, but she’s also a strong character with more personality and internal conflicts than most of the previous Disney princesses put together (The scene where she she’s just been rescued and her mood changes from happy to terrorised to desperate , all in the space of few seconds, is pure genius).
But don’t worry, there’s a great male hero too, Ryder, looking as hot as ever (apparently there were meetings held at Disney to make sure that every little girl would fall in love with him), but also charming, funny and playing against expectations, with lines line “I don’t do singing” or “I don’t do back-stories”.
But it’s Mother Gothel who pretty much steals the show: she’s not just one of the most memorable baddie of the last few years, but probably up there with the stepmother from Cinderella and the Queen from Snowhite (Yes, really!). And, in the best Disney tradition (SPOILER ALERT) she will eventually fall down to her death.
And since it’s a Disney fairytale, there are animals sidekicks too. Maximus, the horse (hilarious!! you just wish the was more of him) and the cute chameleon Pascal (which was most probably born out from various brainstorm-meetings thinking of toys and merchandising).
But brushing aside any cynics thoughts, this film is a joy to watch and it looks absolutely gorgeous: the first time the Mother goes up the tower and the music swells over the wide landscape is breath-taking (even my son said “wow” aloud), the sequence in which thousands of floating lanterns light up the night sky is truly magical (also allowing the animators to really use the 3D to maximum effect). The characters look more alive than most real life actors: you can see their chest moving as they breathe, the veins on their neck pulsing before they speak, and they’re eyes are so real that it really feels they are looking at each other. Not to mention the details and care put into Rapunzel’s golden hair as she hurls it around, and even uses it as a weapon, a hook, a whip and a swing. What fun!
And talking about fun, the action set pieces are so exciting and perfectly choreographed (The scene with the water, all the chases in the forest, swinging from trees or riding horses..).
This is what animation should do: make the impossible look possible.
This is an immersive glorious 3D experience, perfectly calibrated and yet seems effortless at the same time.
Great characters, clean and simple storytelling (yes, it’s all pretty formulaic, but so are the best fairy-tales for kids!), rich in colours and details.
It may not aim as high as some the classic Pixar masterpieces, but in my book it’s family perfection. One of my favourite of the last 20 years.
On Disney + (or just buy the bluray!)


Check out my review of Toy Story 3 too

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