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Tangled (2010) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
ImageWith every Disney feature film release, the studio must live up to its own reputation.  “Tangled” is Disney 50th feature film and is a good outing indeed.  But, yes there is a but, the film lacks the ultimate flow that Disney is well-known for.

“Tangled” is a typical Disney Fairy Tale princess film.  It has all the elements, including great characters and stunning visuals.  What it is lacking, is an unnoticeable story flow and truly capturing music.

The film comes in at just over 100 minutes, which is a bit longer than the majority of Disney’s releases.  And this would account for some of the lag in the film.  There is a really nice opening and then the film just kind stalls for a bit.  The progression of the princess hidden in the tower to Flynn Rider and the deal between then is a bit too slow for the majority of audiences.  It is at this point that you start to pick apart films, something that Disney hasn’t really been subject to in the past because their story flow was so magnificent.  The film picks back up again when the duo finally reach the kingdom.  While the overall movement can be accepted, there are just too many staggering moments in this feature.

The second issue here is that the music, which Disney is also known for, lacks the ultimate “remember” factor.  With films like “The Lion King,” “The little Mermaid,” “Beauty & The Beast,” the music is undeniable and sticks with us for a long time to come.  However, while there are numerous musical segments in “Tangled,” the music fails to really capture the audience.  The songs don’t seem to pop up in the film at the fit time.  The romance song while Flynn and Rapunzel are floating in the boat fits well, but the others just lack timing.  There were a couple points in the film in which I actually was relieved when the song ended so the film could move on.  That has never happened to me in a Disney film before.

That said, the music is not the fault of the performers.  Mandy Moore is stunning.  She has always been a favorite of mine, and she delivers the best vocals.  However, the source material is what is lacking.  This is the sad part, because Alan Menken has done such a terrific job in the past.  “The Little Mermaid” remains one of my all-time favorite Disney musicals.  I have a hard time envisioning Zachary Levi as a singer, but his performance here is decent.  The Levi/Moore pairing doesn’t particularly work, but I could live with that.  I know the song was up for a best song Oscar, but let’s face it, the Oscars are not all that truthful.  Plus, there really weren’t that many original songs written for films.
“Tangled” is the fairy tale story of Rapunzel, but told in a much less dark and sinister tone.  Disney has always taken great liberties with their fairytale adaptations, but the audience never really minds.  Again, the liberties taking with this fairytale seem to improve the tale.  Rapunzel is a princess stolen at birth from the king and queen.  She is taking away to tower hidden deep in the forest.

Rapunzel was stolen by an evil “witch” that wanted here for herself, to keep the magic of Rapunzel’s golden hair for herself.  Basically, she wanted to stay young and live forever.  She raised Rapunzel with lies, always telling her that the world was mean and dangerous and that she ought never to leave.  However, as the princess is about to turn 18, she longs for nothing more than to go to the kingdom to see these floating lights that happen once year, every year on her birthday.  Of course, we as the audience know why and long so much that Rapunzel know as well.

Rapunzel’s mother is adamant that she never leave the tower.  The princess is not about to give up and sends her mother on a journey so that she may go see the lights.  It just so happens that Flynn Rider, the notorious thief has found his way to Rapunzel’s tower.  After numerous beatings, the princess and the Flynn make a deal, which entails that Flynn lead her to the kingdom.

Along this journey there is song and dance, betrayal and romance.  We know where the story is leading and we are just waiting for that magic ending.  For me, the ending was not a magical as it could have been.  The unspoken reunification of the family just lacks that heart-wrenching Disney quality.  It is not bad mind you, just not what I built up in my head as the film progressed.

I couldn’t end this review without mentioning the best character in the entirety of the film.  Maximus, the horse.  Simply put, this horse believes he is a dog and a human rolled up into a horse.  His gestures and noises are all too perfect.  He steals every scene that he is part of.  The film is worth it just for him.

“Tangled” comes in both a 2D Blu-ray package as well as a 3D/2D Blu-ray Combo Pack.  Unfortunately, the 3D version of the film failed to play on either of my 3D capable players (PS3 or Panasonic DMP-BDT100).  This does not appear to be the fault of the players, simply a matter of a bad burn.

Luckily, the 2D presentation is stunning visually.  This is truly a Disney presentation.  The colors are vibrant and fit perfectly within the fairytale nature of the film.  There is no chroma bleed or color artifacting.  The black levels are spot on and the digital rendering is smooth.  Depth in the 2D presentation is pleasant, while I’m sure that the 3D version is even better.  Edges are sharp, but the image lacks that overall clarity that I am accustomed to seeing on Disney Blu-rays.  Still, there is plenty of eye-candy in this film that will dazzle you from beginning to end.  Some banding issues in the darker sequences are the only lingering problem in this transfer.  I am uncertain of whether that is an issue with the 3D to 2D conversion of the transfer itself.  If I get the 3D disc fixed I will update you on that.

“Tangled” comes to Blu-ray with a 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio track. This is the third film thus far to feature original 7.1 mixing.  “Toy Story 3” and “Step Up 3D” were the first two, both part of the Walt Disney.  After “Tangled” will be “Tron: Legacy” also from Disney and also in 7.1, review forthcoming.  “Tangled’s” 7.1 audio track is terrific.  While it still doesn’t live up to the potential of what 7.1 can offer listeners, it comes much closer than “Toy Story 3.”  The extra two back channels provide greater depth to the listening experience and some smoother panning across the rear.  Still, the rear channels fail to be a part of the listening experience from beginning to end.  In the moments in which no discrete effects or music are in the back channels, they are empty.  This makes the feeling of envelopment come and go.  While the primary surround channels a full throughout, there is a balance lost when the surround back channels are not used throughout.  In terms of the dialogue the film is spot on.  The studio recordings are nicely integrated into the film, blending nicely with the sound design.  The music, while not my favorite part, is nicely balanced in all the channels.  The frequency response and range of the music helps to fill the room nicely.  The LFE channel gets a few moments of true use.  This 7.1 audio track comes close to perfection, but lacks the ultimate cohesive factor.

Luckily for me, all the bonus materials are located on the 2D Blu-ray disc, so I was able to access them.  There are a couple of unfinished sketch deleted scenes.  “50th Animated Feature Countdown” is an all-too brief 2-minute segment with clips from all 50 of Disney’s films.  There are extended versions of the songs “When Will My Life Begin” and “Mother Knows Best.”  “Untangled: The Making Of A Fairy Tale” is a 12-minute feature on the history of Disney films and the unfoldings of “Tangled.”  “Original Storybook Openings” are two alternate openings to the film.  “Tangled Teasers” is a collection of various advertisements for the film.  “Discover 3D with Timon & Pumba” is a 3D crash course.  The 2D Blu-ray pack comes with a DVD Copy of the film.  The 3D Blu-ray Combo Pack also comes with a DVD and a Digital Copy of the film.

It seems doubtful that “Tangled” will become a true Disney classic, but kids are sure to love the colorful imagery.  However, they may lose interest in the story at times.  The audio and video qualities are stunning and should not be missed.  I am willing to bet that the native 3D imagery trumps the 2D presentation.  So if you have the means then I would spring for the 3D Combo Pack.  However, the 2D image will sure to impress as well.

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