7) Tangled: In my opinion, the most overrated Disney film
Ooh boy, I feel like I'm going to step on some toes here. This movie is loved by almost every person I know and the fact that I put this higher than Pocahontas will tick people off.
Okay so, I like Pocahontas a bit better because I'm a sucker for 2D animation and I'm a fan of the songs. Also, Disney took risks in the film and tried something unique (as much as it backfired) while in Tangled there was just nothing memorable or ambitious to me. Perhaps if I saw it as a kid I would like it more as an adult but...eh...I'm still not sure.
Alight, let's start this review before I get too side tracked.
Tangled's production history is a little messy so I will try to explain it with the best of my knowledge. It went through various directors, animators and writers so people who followed it's process (like myself) wondered if the film was EVER going to be made. It started with the title 'Rapunzel; Unbraided' with Glenn Keane (veteran Disney Animator) at the helm and Kristin Chenoweth (one of my favorite Broadway stars) as Rapunzel's voice. The plot was a 'reverse' Enchanted, fairy tale characters swapped with real world characters in their respective universes. You can watch some scraps of the concept on YouTube and while I personally disliked this direction it's an interesting piece of disney history.
The style of the animation (according to Mr.Keane) is based on the Rococo painting 'The Swing', and they were attempting for it to get a 'moving painting' look. However, Glen Keane was replaced as a director and the project started from scratch. They changed the title to 'Rapunzel' and the animation style to CGI. However, they still wanted to attempt a 2D look when it came to the art style. They also scrapped the Enchanted-reverse plot line (thank goodness) and changed the prince to a thief among other things. A lot of concept art was being leaked around this time and I remember being very impressed and hyped. I loved the thief's 'muscular bear' look, it was really different from other male Disney characters (2.bp.blogspot.com/-JMN6NlNisnM…
Then...They changed the title...AGAIN.
'Rapunzel' to 'Tangled', which to be perfectly honest I thought it was a reaaaaaally lame title. Everyone knew this was going to be a story about Rapunzel, so why the name change? Well apparently they didn't want to alienate the male audience. I'm sorry but that's just...bizarre to me. For example, 'The Little Mermaid' was a huge hit despite it's title and so was 'Beauty and the Beast'! Both of these films implied girlyness and romance and everyone went to see it anyway. It just shows that Disney is really not confident in getting an audience, and to me it's kind of sad.
Then the marketing. They went through the Dreamworks route and released trailers that implied an endless amount of comedy and that Flynn was the main character. When I saw this trailer I was a bit underwhelmed. I expected something more epic that took itself more seriously, I just wanted Disney to be themselves and show us what sets them apart from companies like DreamWorks. I thought that Disney adapting DreamWork's marketing strategy was just really desperate to get an audience.
Also, they changed the thief's name from Bastion to Flynn, and remade his appearance to look like (you guessed it!) more DreamWorks-y. While a lot of people make jokes about how he's Miguel and Tulio/Sinbad's adopted son, I thought his design was even MORE bland compared to them. But that's just a personal gripe of mine, if you like it, it's fine. I just really wanted to see the early design instead since it was something we haven't seen before. He wasn't gorgeous like the other princes, he showed brawn but a certain vulnerability as well which was so interesting to me. Gahs. And don't get me wrong, I love a lot of DreamWorks stuff, it's just that when Disney tries to imitate them it just seems they are not confident with what they are best at.
Anyway, despite the disappointment I was determined to see it anyway. I really wanted to like this movie, I really wanted it to do well! I've been following it's conception very closely since day one and I walked in the theater with an open mind. "After all, Alan Menken is involved with the songs! Perhaps I'll love it!" I told myself.
I saw it...and I was even more disappointed than before.
So I went back home and immediately went to Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB and Metascore to see it's rating. People seemed to adore the film and it even had a higher rating than Beauty and the Beast on some sites. I felt really guilty about this, maybe I was being to harsh on it, maybe I should give it another chance! Perhaps I wasn't in the right state of mind!
I saw it again in theaters and...I noticed even more flaws. Not only me but my friend and my sister whom accompanied me didn't seem to enjoy it as well. To my surprise, Tangled was also ignored by the Academy Awards as a best animated feature nominee. The Pros:
The film's animation is pretty spectacular. While it didn't achieve a painted look, it was really nice to look at. There are two things that are really difficult to animate and that is hair and water. This film has A LOT of those two things and they are animated almost flawlessly. Rapunzel's hair is very lush and the colors from the sky to the blades of grass are very vibrant and pretty to look at. While the design isn't the best, it´s alright. It can appeal greatly to a certain crowd of people.
The expressions are very well done as well. You can clearly see what these characters are thinking, and the comedic timing to these expressions are also very great. The 'aging' job on Mother Gothel is also very well done, sometimes there are subtle changed to her design that imply that she's getting older by the second. All in all, the animation is the best aspect of the movie starting from the look of the film and ending with the character movements. Like Pocahontas, even if I dislike the story and characters there is a rewatch value concerning the animation.
Um characters that I liked...um...Oh yeah, Rapunzel´s parents. Their expressions as they mourn for their lost daughter is really heart breaking to watch. They are, in my opinion, the best characters of the film and I just wish the rest of the cast had this kind of depth. They didn't even say A WORD and I was more invested in their story than any of the other people in this film. I think that this kind of silent communication was this film's only refreshing and mature aspect.
Another character I enjoyed watching was Maximus, however I did feel a big DreamWorks vibe from him, I dunno why. Anyway, while he makes a good comedic character he doesn't really make a good serious character. He's kind of like the other Disney sidekicks, only there to entertain the kiddies.
Also I liked some of the character interactions. The scene of Rapunzel and Flynn in the tower is pretty funny, and her mood swings when she leaves are amusing as well. Cons:
Alright I'm going to start with the stuff that bothered me the least to the stuff that bothered me the most. While the story did have a good three act structure, I felt that it had an extremely sloppy climax. Rapunzel gets and epiphany out of NOWHERE and starts ranting against Mother Gothel, Flynn is saved by Maximus and the tavern goons (despite them NOT liking him and also being unable to understand what Maximus says so how did they know exactly where Flynn was?), and he goes to see Rapunzel. He goes up the tower and gets stabbed by Mother Gothel (instead of pushed down to a giant thorn bush like the original story) and Rapunzel makes a deal with Gothel that if she let's her heal him she'll come quietly.
Okay so despite the sloppiness from before I decided to forgive it. I really hated that epiphany though, I thought it was really rushed and lazy like the writers had NO idea how Rapunzel was going to find out she was the lost princess. It's not like Anastasia who lost her memory as a child, Rapunzel only had memories of her parents as a NEWBORN BABY. It was just a really weak twist that had no rhyme or reason.
Alrighty so Flynn is dying, he cuts Rapunzel's hair setting her free and then Mother Gothel dies because the spell is broken. This is also tossed aside, but I'll get to the RapunzelxMother Gothel relationship later.
So Rapunzel heals Flynn with her tears (which is like the original fairy tale so I let it pass), and she returns to her real parents.
After that plot hole filled climax, there's the sappiest ending I have ever seen in Disney history. Everyone gets a super sugary happy ending, EVERYONE.
Usually, a Disney film's finale has the musical score in the background while the characters are just doing their thing. The audience can SEE their happy ending and leave it to their own interpretation. Instead we get this;
"RAPUNZEL BECOMES THE GREATEST PRINCESS EVER DESPITE HER INEXPERIENCE IN POLITICS."
"EVERY SINGLE TAVERN GOON HAS THEIR DREAM ACCOMPLISHED NO MATTER HOW FAR FETCHED THEY WERE." (one becomes the 'greatest pianist in the world, I kid you not)
"MAXIMUS BECOMES THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARD DESPITE THE FACT HE TALKS LIKE A HORSE"
"PASCAL BECOMES PRESIDENT." (okay I'm lying, but might as well)
So after Flynn's nauseating narration he says that he waited years, and years, and years to propose to Rapunzel, but instead I heard this; "REMEMBER THOSE DISNEY MOVIES WHERE THE COUPLE GOT MARRIED IN A DAY? WE ARE NOT LIKE THOSE COUPLES! WE ARE HIP AND KEWLS!"
Alright so I'm going to stop ranting about this climax. I think the fact that Flynn narrated the story also hindered it, since the narration was used like he was the main character when in fact he wasn't. What was the point of him narrating everything? How did he know these things? I really wanted that cool narrator from Beauty and the Beast to make a comeback. Just imagine the Beast narrating the opening segment instead ; "SO I WAS CHILLING IN MY CASTLE AND THEN THIS UGLY WITCH PERSON CAME AND I WAS LIKE GTFO AND SHE TURNED ME INTO A FURRY BAWWW"
But the thing that bothered me the most were the characters. I felt really bad for disliking them because the animation used on them was really good. You could see what they were feeling perfectly, however their internal journeys made no sense to me.
Let's start with Rapunzel, while she's an okay female lead she didn't really embody isolation like I thought she would. She just acts like someone really really bored who has many talents in order to pass the time. Like I understand the writers wanted to make her 'fun' to watch but I just felt they didn't go all the way. For a person who has lived by herself her whole life and given everything and raised by a selfish witch, she acts pretty selfless and kindhearted. Not that this is bad, it's just unrealistic to me. It's as if the writers wanted to make a role model and not a character. For example (isolation done right) Quasimodo from THOND acts like an isolated person. Sure he has the burden that he's ugly which adds to his motivation to be accepted. Unlike Rapunzel though, he can see the people below his bell tower so he kinda knows how basic human interaction is like. Despite this he's still extremely shy and acts like a person who's lived alone his whole life.
What happens in Rapunzel's case? She goes outside, is instantly sociable and accepted. I think they took the 'Ariel going to town' angle but Ariel was never isolated. She was just a mermaid obsessed with humans and it made sense that she was excited being in a new place.
I just felt they didn't take any risks with this character. Her traits were very inconsistent and I just felt the writers tried really hard to make the audience like her. I don't dislike Rapunzel though, I just thought she was pretty forgettable. However she did have some funny moments here and there.
Okay so moving on, Flynn. I'm sorry but I thought he was the weakest (after the tavern goons) character in the film. His back story is told not shown, his character traits swing back and forth, and you keep wondering if he was a true thief before this or just a wannabe. While he states he was an orphan that wanted to be...um...a famous adventurer or something, why did he choose to be a thief? Especially when he really sucks being one. Again I just felt the writers wanted an 'edgy' prince but his motivation just made no sense. Flynn obviously sticks like a sore thumb in the tavern of thugs so I don't buy ONE SECOND that he's a criminal and just...pretends to be.
And the fact he falls for Rapunzel was very strange to me. He loves her because...she's cute I suppose? She likes 'Eugene' more than 'Flynn'? They should have developed their relationship more than just being victims of misadventures. I just wasn't fully convinced by their relationship, but then again Flynn's personality made no sense so that weakened the chemisty for me.
Lastly, Mother Gothel. Oh the wasted potential. I was expecting a complex relationship between her and Rapunzel but the writers chickened out. Firstly, Mother Gothel is technically Rapunzels MOM. Sure she's not a biological mother but she raised her for 18 years. She gives Rapunzel commodities, her favorite foods and treats her well (except when she asks to go out). I felt that Rapunzel should've felt more attached to her, she was the ONLY person she could depend on after all! It would've been so interesting if Rapunzel was torn in choosing her mother, someone who has supported her for years, to a biological mother whom she has never met. Sure she was kidnapped, but the 18 years of isolation and dependency on this person SHOULD make stronger emotions. Sure it's mental abuse for the most part but that's what makes Rapunzel a victim in the situation and thus we sympathize with her conflicting feelings. Also it would've been really interesting if Mother Gothel had more dimensions than just 'BEING PRETTY FOREVER'. What if she really loved Rapunzel as a person and losing her and the flower became an even MORE devastating blow? It would make her more of a threat and also more interesting in my opinion. All in all, I just think that their relationship needed more layers. It's the most long lasting of all and therefore it's the most important. It should've been the focus and the most developed but instead we got 'funny hijinks' with a Dreamworks hodgepodge wannabe thief who has no consistency (BUT AT LEAST HE'S HAWT LOLZ).EDIT:
I forgot to add what I thought about the songs. Useless filler and forgettable IMO, I just wish they use musical numbers to move the plot forward instead of delaying it.Final thoughts:
Now you might be thinking that I really hate this movie. Not really, there are really good things about it and overall it's cute. However, I think the hype surrounding it added to my immense disappointment. I usually prefer something more fresh and unpredictable (like Princess and the Frog) to a story that is just 'cute'.
Alright, you can flame me now, I'm ready *puts on helmet*