Newest Review: ... is basically the fairy tale story of Rapunzel and I have to say, despite it being a kids film, I really did enjoy it! I loved the story... more
Rapunzel for All
Member Name: rosebud2001
Advantages: Good songs and storyline, excellent animation
Disadvantages: Drags a little towards the end, Zachary Levi doesn't * quite * hit the spot as Flynn
All my life I have loved fairy tales - unlike some people I have never really grown out of them even though I learned a long time ago that they are complete fantasy and there's far more chance of me kissing a frog and having him stay a frog than turn into a handsome prince. Now I am not advocating kissing frogs but let's face it, a good man is hard to find. As we are discussing a fairy story here, I shan't mention Mae West's take on that statement either.
So while I have some friends who really dislike anything fairy story - and in particular anything Disney fairy story related - I don't mind and have enjoyed passing on my love of such fluff to my daughter, who is equally enthusiastic about them.
There are few fairy stories left for Disney to rewrite and claim copyright on and it would appear that Tangled, their take on the Brothers Grimm tale "Rapunze"l is to be their last. I was aware of this being in development a few years ago - back then Kristin Chenowith was linked to the project - but the film didn't receive its theatrical release in the UK until January this year and I was duly dragged to the cinema by my daughter to watch it in 3D.
I enjoyed it then but I must admit as time wears on the novelty of 3D in movies is wearing off for me. I don't find it adds to the overall experience much - apart from adding to the price of your cinema ticket - and I am increasingly finding myself thinking "so what" when I watch a film in 3D. I am also in no hurry to upgrade my fairly recently purchased HD TV and BluRay system to 3D, being happy enough with the high definition experience instead.
"Tangled" came out on DVD and BluRay last month and I picked it up on release date in HMV for my daughter for £17.99. I purchased the Double Play pack which contains a BluRay disc and the regular DVD. I had hoped this would be like previous Disney releases and actually be available as a Triple Play set with a further disc containing a digital copy of the film but sadly this was not to be, with Disney keeping this back for a Triple Play set which included a 3D BluRay and BluRay disc.
In a kingdom long, long ago, a magical flower is discovered by Gothel, a wizened old woman. She uses the power contained within this enchanted plant to find the secret of eternal youth. The king and queen are expecting a baby and the queen becomes very sick, and needs a miracle to survive. The plant is uncovered and taken to the queen who recovers and gives birth to a beautiful baby girl.
The princess is named Rapunzel and she inherits the magic from the flower in her long golden hair. Gothel discovers this and cuts a piece of hair off the baby, in the hope that it will contain the same magic contained in the flower. To her shock she realises that if the hair is cut, the power will vanish so instead she kidnaps the child, takes her to a tower hidden deep in the forest and raises her as her own child, letting the hair grow very, very long. She teaches Rapunzel to sing a song which releases the magic in her hair and keeps Gothel young.
We meet Rapunzel at the age of 18, longing for freedom and lonely too - with only her pet chameleon Pascale for company. Suddenly her path crosses with Flynn Rider, a thief and a rogue - and together they embark on a journey which leads to laughter, suspense and heartbreak as the fairy story is played out.
I must say that having seen this in 3D at the cinema, I actually far preferred the experience of watching the BluRay on TV at home. I actually think visually this is far more of a treat in 2D high definition and I was able to enjoy it more because of that.
Case in point is Rapunzel's hair - which you tend to miss when watching in the cinema in 3D - but watch at home on the BluRay and you realise just how much work must have gone into creating this huge length of hair and making it incredibly realistic in CGI. Similarly I didn't notice just how realistic the grass in the forest was until I watched the film at home and this has convinced me that for now anyway, 3D can remain in the cinema while I really get to grips with the joy of high definition on BluRay.
Our heroine, Rapunzel, has the potential to be feisty but in her naiveté doesn't realise just how much she is being manipulated by the woman she calls "Mother" Gothel. She's not a typically helpless female lead but she is a typical, post Belle in "Beauty and the Beast", Disney princess - doe eyed but also has a bit of an attitude and isn't too shabby at art either. Disney seem to have decided all princesses post Belle have to have a talent AND be beautiful - I guess they were inspired by beauty queens.
Flynn Rider, her love interest, is a thief and a vagabond but his character is just a little bit too similar to Prince Naveem in "The Princess and the Frog" for me - once again Disney foists the audience with a "hero" who is introduced to us a bad guy with the suggestion that it only takes one good woman to turn a bad man good. Now most of us (well most women anyway) know that's a load of old tosh so I can see why some parents really don't like Disney films for their daughters.
Mandy Moore voices Rapunzel and she is very good - she brings a charming innocence to the role without being too sugary. She has a lovely singing voice which she gets to put to good use in the song which introduces the audience to her character, "When Will My Life Begin".
Zachary Levi voices Flynn and he's suitably mischievous but he doesn't quite capture the charm vocally that the animation of his character suggests. The character of Flynn is wonderfully captured by the animation team at Disney and it has to be said that he has wonderfully expressive eyes which tell the audience what he is thinking. Levi is far better voicing some of the many sardonic one liners he has and it's his ability to do this which helps turn this initially unsympathetic character into a hero - but he's definitely more of a comic hero than charming hero.
The character animation is at its best on Mother Gothel, with directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard clearly being inspired by previous Disney female villians - there's certainly a touch of Maleficent from "Sleeping Beauty" in her character, never mind some Cruella de Ville. Donna Murphy voices the character brilliantly, capturing the manipulative and cold hearted side of Gethel's character beautifully, all the while convincing an innocent Rapunzel of how much she loves her. On the song "Mother Knows Best", Murphy is able to go to town vocally and give the audience an insight into her Machiavellian character.
A Disney film wouldn't be a Disney film without animal characters and this time round they have given us Maximus, a rather officious army horse, and Pascale, Rapunzel's pet chameleon. Pascale is charming if unmemorable but Maximus is a work of comic genius and his uneasy relationship with Flynn is brilliant. Neither of these characters speak but both are utterly convincing and enjoyable to watch and are a credit to the artists and animators.
My favourite scene in the film takes place inside the Snuggly Duckling pub, which is frequented by a bunch of ne'er do wells, all of whom aren't particularly easy on the eye. Rapunzel manages to charm them and the wonderful ensemble number "I've Got a Dream" provides much in the way of laughter and incongruity as a hook eyed bruiser reveals his longing to become a concert pianist along with other unexpected dreams amongst a group of thugs. Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett and Richard Kiel all lend their voices in this scene and it's brilliant.
The film runs to 100 minutes and the pacing is good although I do think it lags a bit towards the end. Like so many Disney films these days the ending takes a while to become clear, such is their ability to turn spells and enchantment into convoluted plot devices. There is some genuine suspense as the film reaches its conclusion however and as such it does keep an audience interested.
The sound quality is brilliant when viewing this through my home cinema system which has 7.1 capabilities and while it's not quite as good as being at the cinema it certainly comes close.
~~BluRay Special Features~~
The special features are a bit of a letdown to be honest. There is a 50th Animated Feature Countdown - which is a very short film comprising of brief (and I mean VERY brief) clips from all 50 of the Disney feature films made since "Snow White" - and culminating with the 50th, which is of course "Tangled".
There is a documentary entitled "Untangled - The Making of a Fairy Tale" which is really awful - it features Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi introducing various facts and figures about the film - and other Disney features - reaching it's nadir when Levi is incapable of pronouncing "Notre Dame" correctly. There may well be nothing like a dame, but not in Paris.
The deleted scenes are of more interest and are worked purely from the original storyboard for the film. It's interesting to see how the story changed in development, especially from one scene featuring a fortune teller and a monkey. There's also the opportunity to view the original storybook openings for the film but of particular interest for me was the extended songs which interspersed fully animated sequences with semi animated ones to enable the viewer to hear full length versions of Mother Knows Best and When Will My Life Begin. It's interesting to see how Rapunzel's hair isn't included in full in many of these sequences and gives you a taster of how the CGI builds up in layers before becoming the finished product.
Finally there is a rather blatant 3D advertising trailer featuring Timon and Pumbaa from "The Lion King" and I must say I do find it rather distasteful how Disney are pushing 3D - there's actually a leaflet inside the BluRay disc informing buyers of how to get 3D BluRay in "4 easy steps" - which are 3D HDTV, BluRay 3D Player, 3D Glasses and your 3D BluRay disc. This all sounds rather easy until you factor in the cost of all this - but children will read this and assume it's no problem for all families to have this in their living room. It also fails to mention you need 3D glasses for every member of the family too.
Video 1080p HD 16x9 1.78:1
Audio DTS 7.1 HD English/Italian, DTS 5.1 Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1 Portuguese, Dolby 2.0 Audio Described English
Subtitles English, English for the hearing impaired, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Duration 100 minutes
"Tangled" is a fun way to pass 100 minutes and it certainly gives fairy tales a slightly modern twist with a hero who is definitely inspired by Errol Flynn in more than just name and a heroine who is sweet but feisty. What takes it up a notch is a script which contains both visual and verbal humour - and which also will entertain people of all ages.
There are a couple of moments when you fear it might become too mawkish but by and large it manages to just stay on the right side of sentimental and shouldn't find the more soft hearted amongst us (that would be me) sobbing silently.
Although this is a fairy story, Disney have pitched it right to ensure it appeals to girls and boys and while they were criticised in some quarters for changing the title to "Tangled" to do precisely this, the story features lots of action sequences which will appeal to both genders.
My major criticism of this packaging of the film is the lack of a digital copy as Disney seem hellbent on pushing the 3D format more instead. The blatant advertising of this format is irritating enough but for them to change a format which worked so well on the BluRay releases of "Alice in Wonderland", "Toy Story 3" and "The Princess and the Frog" is annoying - what makes them think that those of us who own a BluRay player will be less likely to have digital media players than those who have 3D Blu Ray players?
I buy these multi format releases to cover all bases as it gives my daughter the regular DVD to play on her portable player when we travel as well as us being able to watch the BluRay at home. Having the digital copy enables us to both be able to watch these films whenever we want on an iPod Touch and also lessens the need to carry so much about with us - the size of a portable DVD player and accompanying discs is quite considerable compared to an iPod Touch with a film preloaded.
So in conclusion "Tangled" as a film is wonderful and works very well in high definition - having seen it in theatrical release in 3D I much preferred it at home in 2D high definition with colours and clarity much improved in my opinion. The lack of a digital copy isn't a deal breaker for me but I have to say it is a disappointment.
~*~Please note that dooyoo do not have a specific category for the BluRay release but this package I am reviewing does include the regular standard definition DVD~*~
Summary: A post modern take on "Rapunzel" designed to appeal to boys and girls alike - never mind grown ups!