Paul Cook 17/01/2011
Tangled is special for a number of reasons. Firstly it is the 50th animated feature film in Disney's 74-year history of bringing full-length animations to the silver screen. With this in mind, and particularly special for UK audiences, Disney is celebrating with “Disney 50” a unique and rare opportunity to enjoy every one of those fifty features at BFI Southbank every weekend throughout 2011. So if Tangled doesn't tickle your fancy perhaps one of the remaining 49 will?
Back to the film at hand then and Tangled is itself a special film. Not only is the 3D neither a gimmick nor a cover-up for poor plot or cast or characters, it's simply a visual compliment to the vividly sumptuous animation on offer.
Tangled also marks a fantastic return to form for traditional Disney films. The Princess and the Frog in 2009 may have made great strides in recapturing the spirit of Disney but it is Tangled that dares to unleash it again on an entirely new generation. It's no secret that when it comes to CG-animation Disney is entirely in Pixar's shadow and so returning to this style is a brave step indeed, the 3D perhaps bridging the gap like a safety blanket.
The story also opts for the safety of an established fairy tale, Rapunzel, whilst adapting it to suit a young, contemporary audience. The tower-bound Rapunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore, and the kingdom's most wanted bandit 'Flynn Rider', voiced by the widely unknown Zachary Levi, join forces in pursuing the young girl's dream of seeing a magical lantern display for her 18th birthday. Pursued by her evil adoptive step-mother who knows the truth of Rapunzel's magical hair and a gang thugs the journey sees the pair develop an at-first unlikely friendship. It's classic Disney fare and it proves the age-old philosophy of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'
The script is sharp and, taking a leaf from Pixar's book, Disney have crafted a story and cast of characters that appeal to every generation. A wily equestrian sidekick called Maximus and overly-caring chameleon tag along for the ride as a witty script and unpredictable plot unfolds.
The only disappointment of Tangled lies in its music, more accurately its lyrics. The songs feel contrived and the lyrics fail to inspire. For younger audiences the music will be fine but the words are overly expository, telling the story rather than flavouring it.
Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi give solid vocal performances, as does Donna Murphy who plays the evil Mother Gothel. However it is the stunning visuals which will make Tangled a success at the cinema as the richness of the colours 'pop' on-screen. As mentioned before, the use of 3D finally feels integral rather than commercial. The lantern scene, poetic and beautiful enough, is enhanced even greater with 3D feeling as if you can reach out and touch them. This is the first film since Avatar where 3D feels like a part of its genetic make-up.
Tangled has the sort of charm and character that defined Disney for generations and it remains as refreshing and exciting as any of their films in the last 15 years. It's a fantastic achievement in animation but more so for it's ability to rekindle the magic of Disney.
The Disney 50
Tangled is released in cinemas in 'Disney Digital 3D' on 28th January 2011.