Flynn Rider: Frying Pans! Who knew right?
Beware: Spoilers may follow
The story of Rapunzel is one that I’m surprised Disney didn’t adapt sooner. Its story seemed to fit the traditional 2-D Disney princess narrative. And the rest of the movie’s style is also very reminiscent of 2-D animation. Despite that as a 3-D animated movie it still works very well overall and proves to go down as a classic Disney movie and a welcome addition in the line-up of Disney princesses.
The story involves a drop of sunlight becoming this flower that is capable of healing illness, decay, and injury by singing a special song. An evil witch named Mother Gothel uses it to remain young. However, a group of soldiers from a kingdom called Corona to heal the sick queen. Shortly afterward the queen gives birth to a baby girl named Rapunzel whose hair contains the flower’s power. Thus Gothel abducts baby Rapunzel and raises her as her own in an isolated tower. Since this every year on Rapunzel’s birthday the king and queen release sky lanterns in hopes that she will find them and return home. On her 18th birthday, Rapunzel (who has no idea of her royal lineage) wants to see the lanterns but Mother Gothel refuses to let her claiming that the outside world is dangerous. Rapunzel comes across and knocks out a thief who stumbles upon the tower named Flynn Rider who stole her crown from the palace. She convinces him to take her to see the lanterns in exchange for the crown.
The setup for this story is brilliantly done. They perfectly establish why Rapunzel’s hair keeps growing and its ties to Gothel’s desire to stay young forever. Rapunzel’s relationship with Flynn is also brilliantly set up. When they first meet neither truly know what to make of each other. Once the two get out of the tower however the action, romance, etc. are truly set in motion. And they all culminate in a splendid fashion leading to the movie’s more emotional moments.
The character animation is incredible. If you were to judge Disney’s future of 3-D animation by something like Chicken Little you would never think it would become as well as this. Perhaps one of the animation’s greatest strengths is Rapunzel’s hair. That may sound like a minor detail but the way it glows and moves truly make you believe it is magic. The backgrounds are also well done. The lighting and angles give the feel of the traditional fairy tale that Disney did with their hand-drawn animation films, which set it apart from something like Dreamworks’ Shrek movies.
The king and queen do not say a single word in this movie. Their reactions when they lose and reunite with their daughter are merely done through their expressions. However, the expressions are animated amazingly well that you truly feel the emotion. When Rapunzel finally reunites with her parents at the end there is no dialogue from anyone and yet the weight of the moment still sinks in.
All the characters measure up to Disney’s qualities. Rapunzel is a great character. She’s fun, loving, and adventurous making her a pleasant addition among the Disney Princesses. Flynn’s wisecracks supply a great deal of comedy but as the film progresses and we learn more about his past he becomes a much more well-defined character.
Mother Gothel as the villain is something of a mixed bag. Much like early Disney villains like Maleficent and Ursula, the character is given a great deal of life through the voice actress Donna Murphy. But the way she keeps Rapunzel locked up and convinces her the outside world is cruel pretty much feels like a recycled concept with Frollo from Hunchback of Notre Dame.
While the thugs at the Snuggly Duckling are fun comic relief the two that stand out are Maximus the horse and Pascal the chameleon. Neither have any dialogue and the animation on them is incredible. Maximus is the better of the two however as his expressions give him so much personality. All the characters in this movie make an impact that makes them worthy of being hung alongside Disney character greats.
In regards to the songs, there are three that stick out. The opening song When Will My Life Begin is energetic and establishes Rapunzel’s character pretty well. I have a Dream is incredibly silly. Finally, I see the Light is one of the aforementioned culminations of the movie. The character expressions, the song, and the lighting make it a beautiful sequence.
Tangled not only well-established Disney’s ability to pull off 3D animation but also in a sense created a second Disney renaissance. It doesn’t look the same as 2D animation but it certainly feels like a classic in staying true to the values we have always loved about Disney.