Once upon a time, there was a Magic Kingdom that could do no wrong. They made fantastic animated movies that captured the hearts of little girls, the imaginations of little boys, and the wallets of parents around the world.
But then someone greenlit Home on the Range
and Chicken Little
. All was lost.
Until now. Tangled
marks the true return of quality Disney 2D animated films. Itís infused with a creative energy thatís been missing from the Mouse House for a decade, a movie filled with adventure, romance, clever gags and exciting action, all wrapped up with great animation.
Which isnít to say this film is perfect. Most of the filmís weakest moments are in the trailer. If you believed Disneyís marketing department youíd think this film was Shrek
Lite, a psuedo-fantasy epic with fart jokes. But donít let that inanity keep you from buying a ticket; while the first fifteen minutes are a bit rough as the writers struggle with expositional back story and easy jokes, once the adventure starts this film fires on all storytelling cylinders.
Offered to star in Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time
The story is a fun expansion of the classic story of Rapunzel. Like the original tale, Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is a beautiful child taken away by an evil enchantress, though in this retelling Rapunzel is also infused with magic from the sun, giving her hair the ability to glow and heal wounds. Another update is the hero, once a prince but now a thief named Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachery Levi). Running from the law, Flynn seeks refuge in Rapunzelís tower. She tricks him, hides his stolen treasure, and convinces him to guide her to the nearby kingdom where she hope to unlock the mystery of her past.
Along the way they encounter some great characters. While Tangled
contains is fair share of needless cute animals and stereotypical evil arch villains, the real gem of the story is Maximus, a soldier horse obsessed with law and order. When his rider is thrown off, Maximus takes it upon himself to track Flynn Rider, resulting in clever and exciting action scenes, including a fantastic sword fight between Flynn and a horse with a sword in its mouth.
Two secondary villains, The Stabbington Brothers (both voiced by Ron Perlman), are a welcome addition, adding depth to Flynnís story arc and motivating a beautifully dark and scary scene along a smoke-filled shoreline.
Surrounded by studio executives
boasts some clever jokes and creative action, itís the art design that really puts the film above recent animated fare. The tentpole scene is set amidst a festival where thousands of floating lanterns are released into the air. The animation here, as these lanterns surround our heros who are in a boat in the middle of lake that reflects each floating light, is so intricate, so inspired, it claims a stake as one of the most beautiful moments in Disneyís archives. Here the filmmakers show their ability for nuanced storytelling, as they cut back and forth between our heroís love story and Rapunzelís long lost parents, who light the lanterns each year in remembrance of their missing daughter. With a single look from Rapunzelís aged father, without a single line of dialog, the directors captured more cinematic magic that the past ten years of Disney animation.
If future Disney films can match the quality of Tangled
it could usher in another ďrenaissanceĒ like we witnessed in the mid 1990s. Itís fun, entertaining, and smart. But most importantly, itís magic.