So I now feel like writing a review for a movie that isn’t currently out in cinemas, simply because it left an impression. After Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen rekindled my interest in Disney, I’d wanted to watch Tangled in full for a while, having only seen bits of it – and recently, I finally did so.
The fairy tale of Rapunzel is not exactly a complicated one, and on its own, probably wouldn’t make a very good movie. Tangled, however, while retaining the skeleton of the original story, successfully gives it a lot of additional layers by turning it into an adventure where Rapunzel actually escapes from her tower, as well as the added features of Rapunzel having magic hair and the prince being turned into a thief. I really love how Rapunzel’s hair is multi-purpose, as well; it makes for some good visuals and inventive action. Indeed, this can actually be applied to the film as a whole: all the animation is lovely and the action scenes are surprisingly fun.
Admittedly, there are a few plot holes in the story, like: if Gothel hid the flower away for hundreds of years, how did the King know about it when he needed it for his wife? How did Gothel know what to sing to the flower in the first place? Why didn’t Gothel bother to take the freshly kidnapped baby a little further away? And you’d think it might have come up somewhere on the journey that the Lost Princess just happens to have the same birthday as Rapunzel, and both Rapunzel and Flynn might think “Hmmmm.”
The main cast are done very well. Rapunzel and Flynn are both likeable and have brilliant chemistry together; I like how their two different personalities both clash and then come together over time, and how they bring out the best in each other. On the other hand, their romance does develop over a relatively short period, with Flynn the thief learning to be a good guy a bit too quickly – although maybe the point is that he was really a good guy all along, hiding behind the mask of a rogue. I would have liked to see the adventure take place over a few more days, though it’s really not bad as it is. Rapunzel is also perhaps more perky and socially adept than somebody who’s lived in an isolated tower and been emotionally abused her whole life should be; though we do get to see this abuse impact on her to some degree, and well, it’s Disney.
Mother Gothel, meanwhile, is a villain made interesting by how fresh she feels, with her falsely maternal attitude and her casual – yet presumably calculated – abuse of Rapunzel. She’s also one of the kinds of villain I really like: a master manipulator who knows the best way to approach each situation and is able to see the big picture, making her truly dangerous. When she goes chasing after Rapunzel, we see she understands that the best outcome is not just to get Rapunzel back to the tower, but to ensure that she never wants to leave again.
As for the side characters, I was impressed with the two animal sidekicks, Pascal and Maximus, and Rapunzel’s real parents, the King and Queen. None of these four characters actually speak in the movie, but are all extremely expressive. With Pascal and Maximus, this is done for comic relief, and they are generally pretty funny. With the King and Queen, the expressions pack more of an emotional punch. On the few occasions where they’re on screen, they don’t need to speak because their faces say it all. The brief scene with them just before the lantern ceremony starts is especially heart-wrenching – even for me, who has yet to actually cry at any Disney film (no, not even as a child). Indeed, the whole film does very well at provoking viewer emotions; the lantern sequence and the climax in particular are extremely powerful, aided by beautiful visuals.
I liked the general musical score to the film, but the songs as a whole are not as memorable as other Disney flicks. “When Will My Life Begin” and “Mother Knows Best” are fairly catchy, and it’s fun to have a villain song that has such a light and cheerful tone while still having an undertone of malevolence to the lyrics. “I See The Light”, however, isn’t that great, and is only held up by everything else happening in that particular scene.
So I did really enjoy Tangled – it’s better than Wreck-It Ralph, and almost but not quite as good as Frozen, though that’s more because of what Frozen does really well than anything Tangled does inadequately. Given that the two films take place in the same universe – as evidenced by Rapunzel’s background appearance in Frozen – it would be fun to see a crossover; though I’m not sure exactly how it would work as Tangled‘s ending doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. Rating: 4/5.