February 16, 2014

Shadowcon Mini-Views- Tangled

One of the things that really disappointed me in late '90s to mid-2000s Disney films was that they weren't musicals. Except for The Emperor's New Groove, which I grew up with and which I liked a lot, none of the films after The Lion King really grasped that sense of an animated Broadway musical; they were all just movies with songs in them which is not the same thing at all. Everything was by the numbers now and the films seemed to be checking off boxes instead of telling thoughtful and character-driven stories. With Tangled, we saw a return to classic Disney: a late '80s and early '90s era fairy tale spin with beautiful animation and some awesome songs to boot! As good as the Disney Renaissance Era? Not even close, but the film's grasp on what made the Renaissance Era great is strong and launching that type of care and storytelling into the 21st Century was such a boon for Disney at the time, and continues to be so with films like Frozen, which I absolutely loved.

Speaking of which, I saw Tangled only after I had seen Frozen for the first time. I wanted to go back and watch it because I had heard that it was as good as Frozen, and that this was a clear sign that Disney was finally getting back to its roots. Well, I will say that Tangled is good, but I don't think it is as good as Frozen for two reasons. First, as much as all the songs in Tangled were awesome, it skittered on the edge of being a movie with songs in it. About the only points in the movie where I saw this as a musical were with the "I've Got a Dream" song and "I See the Light", which is one of the most beautifully animated sequences Disney has ever done. Aside from that, Tangled's score is really tailored to a more classic rock feeling, which is great, but this is not a musical.

Characters are alive and just bursting with personality! Rapunzel is cheery and there was never a point where she is onscreen in which I did not have a huge smile on my face! Flynn Rider is a pretty good companion, and his loose and scruffy attitude reminded me a lot of Mal from Firefly, someone who is not always a great guy, but who is at heart a kind and well-meaning person. The romance between the two is a little hard to swallow, but I did buy it at the end. "I See the Light" did a great job of cementing what these two mean to one another and how they have affected each others lives while on this journey. The side characters are toned down from previous Disney films. Oftentimes, especially in the late '90s/early 2000s, the side characters would get ridiculously obnoxious. One need only look at Hercules to see how ridiculous the side characters got. Hell, in that film, the side characters got their own side kicks! Anyway, Tangled plays it smart and has two, both of whom are animals and don't speak. This makes their interactions with everyone very comical and lets their actions speak for them, something that I found to be a boon to the film because this meant that we didn't have constant BS spewing from their mouths just to get cheap laughs.

The animation for this film is warm and colorful and just makes you invested in the world that the movie is set in. It's very bright and gives the film a visual energy along with a narrative flow. Rapunzel's hair is well-animated, though hardly realistic in movement; it's more of a sheet of blond than it is various strands of hair, though to be fair, after animated Merida's hair, I can't imagine anyone wanting to go through that on an industrial scale for Rapunzel. This is probably why everyone in Frozen had simple braided hair; the animators were like "yeah, fuck this shit! I just wanted to be an animator, not a follicle scientist!" I do like that Disney has a distinct style with their CGI works like they do with their hand-drawn animated stuff; it gives a cohesion to Disney that other studios lack. All of the animation here is alive and is a welcome sight from the normal muted tones of action films that I normally see, and the setting feels less cramped than it did for Frozen, probably because here you have different set pieces whereas in Frozen you have like three, all of which are covered in snow. Tangled feels open and inviting, and I love it!

Tangled is good. It's damn good. But I don't think it quite reaches to the heights of Frozen and doesn't hold a candle to classic Disney films like Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin. Still, as a first entry into what could very well be a new Disney Renaissance, this is a strong start out the gate, and with Frozen picking up most of the shortcomings that Tangled had and building on what this movie brought to the table, Disney is finally getting back on its feet! See Tangled! It's very good!

No comments:

Post a Comment