With only a few weeks to go until Disney Tangled opens in UK Theatres we thought it was the perfect time to share our review on the latest Disney animated tale. A Disney’s 50th animated classic, fans were really hyped up to see it in the US and they were not disappointed but how will Disney fans in the UK take to this new movie?

Let us start back at the beginning.

It is December, 1937. The world waits with baited breath as Walt Disney unveils the next project in his line of “firsts”. The Carthay Circle theatre is to host the World Premiere of the first ever feature length animated cartoon. The Hollywood A-list turned out in style: Shirley Temple, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland to name but a few. All of them were there out of courtesy because it was the “done thing” but no one could understand how a cartoon could entertain for such a long time. Oh, how wrong they were!

Fast forward 73 years. Having heard so many good reviews coming out of the USA and knowing that the film broke two records (biggest Thanksgiving opening ever and biggest opening weekend for a Walt Disney Animation movie) I was a little skeptical. After some of the movies Disney have released in the past years (Meet The Robinsons, Bolt, Princess and the Frog) under performing, is it possible that this film has received such praise because it is one people really like? Don’t get me wrong, I loved Bolt (we even named our family pet hamster after Rhino). I thought Meet the Robinsons was one of the most under appreciated Disney movies in the past 10 years and Princess and the Frog didn’t get the plaudits it deserved. Was Tangled really going to top all of these?

The film takes us back to the CG animation that we became accustomed to with Bolt and Meet the Robinsons. Unlike these two, the animation has a much more cartoon feel to it. The background art at times is stunning. You would expect this sort of quality to come from something Pixar had created rather than a Studios release. The style of animation sets up the perfect world for Rapuzel and Co. to live in. On only a few occasions does the CG graphics let the film down with some unrealistic human movement.
Tangled, based loosely on the Grimm fairytale, follows a teenage Rapunzel as she struggles with growing up locked away in a tower. Her guardian, Mother Gothal (played brilliantly by Donna Murphy) keeps her “safe and sound” making sure nothing from the outside world can harm her.
As the story unfolds, we find out how all of the characters in the movie have an effect on Rapunzel’s thoughts and state of mind. Although thought provoking it doesn’t come in heavy handed or impress a moral message on to its audience.

This is a great movie. A real return to form for Disney and as I watched the story unfold it became more and more obvious as to the reason it has done so well. Whether it was planned this way or not, Disney seem to have taken all the best bits from the “Disney Renaissance” movies and sewn them in to this one.
Rapunzel is the modern day princess. A head strong girl who wants to be independent but fears as to what others may think. She can hold her own if she needs to but at the same time shows a vulnerability and naivety of a young girl inexperienced in the World. Does that not remind you of Ariel? Flynn Rider, the main male protagonist brings the charm of Aladdin’s thief with the egotistical arrogance of Gaston. Rapunzel’s Chameleon sidekick Pascal brings the charm of Pocahontas’ Meeko, Flynn and Maximus the horse brings the comedic bickering of Cogsworth and Lumiere where as the setting looks like it could be the next town to Belle’s Village.
Mother Gothal brings the Jekyll and Hyde of Frodo and the adventure and action sequences are reminiscent of those found in the Lion King. As for songs, there is an new take on the Gaston style Tavern scene and another romantic boat sequence. Both earn their merits as stand outs.
But, it isn’t the characters or the set pieces that have impressed me the most. For me personally, Alan Menken’s music has once again hit the sweet spot. All of those most memorable from the renaissance have been given the Menken touch. A Disney musical movie is only as good as its score and this is top class. The catchy songs hit you within the first two minutes of the movie and continue, whether it be the heart wrenching ballads, humorous thugs song or the Tour de Force of character acting by Donna Murphy in “Mother Knows Best”, the score, with its Celtic roots is a perfect compliment to the film.

With 3D being added to nearly ever movie these days, critics have often been quick to jump on Disney’s attempt at adding it to a movie whether it needs it or not. I saw both Bolt and Up in 3D and although it was novel I never felt it added anything to the story. Tangled is different. The depth of field 3D adds to the movie at times adds to its spectacle. When we see Rapunzel looking down from her tower it adds to the realism of just how far apart from the world she is. The effects in the lantern scene are stunning and for me, it is the first movie I have seen in 3D where I felt it worked without detracting anything from the story.
This is to be the last princess movie Disney are to produce for a while but this princess is not your archetypal character. She is the princess for the modern girl, she has fight and isn’t afraid to speak her mind or get in to the action. Her attitude gets the characters in to more than one scrape but this gives the film its appeal for the whole family. Is this a movie just for girls? Absolutely not! There is enough comedy and action for the boys too. Disney have created the perfect princess movie for the entire family.

Is this the next Disney renaissance? It is a little too early to tell but with the runaway success of Alice in Wonderland the pending release of Tron Legacy, it seems that Disney may have just hit a stride of good fortune. Or should it be good story telling and good leadership? I suppose only time will tell.

Disney’s Tangled will be released nationwide in the UK from 28th Jaunary and is only general release in the USA.

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By Adam

Adam has been a fan of Disney since he was small. He runs the Disneybrit Podcast. He is also the author of several Disney books.

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