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Mike Dunn's Reviews - Tangled

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Despite being a 22-year old guy, every time the "Cinderella Castle" appears and the music that filled my childhood begins to play, I can't help but be reminded of all the memories Disney have given me over the years. Their casting of Robin Williams as Aladdin's Genie started my interest in acting, their collaborative work with Pixar's Toy Story began my love for film, and they also knew how to frighten the utter piss out of childhood me, be it via pink elephants with no eyes in Dumbo or gigantic and evil whale Monstro in Pinocchio (still to this day, probably one of the most disturbing children's films ever!)

Last year in 2010, when Disney returned to their traditional 'hand-drawn Princess movie' with The Princess and the Frog, I was a little tentative, especially with the possible sloppy stereotypes that Disney could have fallen into. Thankfully the film worked and earned both praise and profit. Now with all the demographics represented, and since there hadn't been a white Princess since Belle in Beauty and the Beast (1994!), Disney have retreated to what they know best; Caucasian princess fairy-tales.

Tangled tells the story of Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and her incredibly long and magical golden hair. More in-depth explanation? Okay, there's an old woman who steals young baby Rapunzel from her King and Queen parents for her magical hair to keep her ever-youthful. She keeps her hidden in a tower and deprives her of knowing about the outside world. When Rapunzel runs into a dashing thief, Flynn Rider (Chuck's Zachary Levi), they team up to visit the kingdom she came from to realise her dream of seeing some lanterns. (Weak dream right? Don't worry, it works when you watch it.)

Occasionally computer-animated Disney films are themed around some technological advancement. For example, Monsters Inc. was able to look so realistic due to the groundbreaking advancements in creating the fur for Sully's and other monsters' bodies. The same goes for Finding Nemo and their realistic water animation, and now they have mastered the realistic look of a young girl's hair, and there is plenty of it in Tangled.

Tangled is Disney's 50th animated feature film, and they have gone all-out, spending $260 million on the development and promotion, making it the most expensive animated film ever, and second only to Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End for Most Expensive Film Ever Made. At the time of writing, it's also the second highest grossing animated film, having earned $537 million. Not too shabby, some would say the price-tag was worth it.
With all that money behind it, you can see the difference it made, as the film looks absolutely beautiful. The backgrounds and settings look like they have been painted and are incredibly detailed. The film also includes a sequence involving flying Chinese lanterns that I count as one of the best things Disney have ever done. It's magical, romantic, and overall, jaw-dropping when you see it.

The plot may be a little thin, but it is supported by well-written characters. An innocent and naive protagonist Rapunzel, the humorous and dashing rogue Flynn and the antagonist Mother Gothel who, despite her over-controlling possessive qualities, still loves and cares for Rapunzel. Rapunzel and Flynn have a realistic chemistry and interact well with each other. As the antagonist, Gothel especially stood out for me, with her evil qualities portrayed subtly and through passive-aggressive techniques (e.g. annoyance shown through sarcasm and snide remarks), and her overbearing being shown to be both selfish and caring.

However the characters don't go through much of an emotional arc, with Rapunzel's main life aspirations not being that unreachable, and the main revelation towards the end of the film is quite flimsy and quickly put-together. Plus with Gothel coming across as both caring and manipulative, and the secondary villains (the Stabbington Brothers) pushed to the side for most of the film, the film suffers with having no real villain and must leave children wondering who to hate.

All-in-all, it's a fantastically made film, with a witty and sharp script, if there are a few plot-holes here and there, but it's a fairytale after all! One of the best animations released in a long time, and very reminiscent of the Renaissance period of Disney's history when The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were watched by the world's children. With Disney's re-resurgence, I can only hope for more films of this quality to come in the future.

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