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Have we really reached Disney animated feature number 50? That's quite the feat if you stop and think about it. For well over the better part of this century Disney has been putting out quality animated features. Walt Disney pioneered the process, and with 'Snow White' ushered in an era where putting pen and brush to paper became a viable movie medium. It was a way to tell stories in that patented, whimsical Disney way.
'Tangled' is no different. Sure, it's been given a technological facelift with CG animation, but it still harbors that Disney heart, which is present in all of the real Disney classics. 'Tangled' is a hybrid of sorts. When 'Bolt' came out a few years back, Disney seemed to be ditching their old style of animated films filled with song and dance numbers for something more closely resembling Pixar. Then they decided that they didn't want to give up on the past and brought out 'The Princess and the Frog' which harkened back to the Disney of yesteryear. The Disney that we grew up with. Boisterous songs and lushly hand drawn animation. It was all there. Then along came 'Tangled'. Newer CG animation like 'Bolt', but the movie was infused with the Disney spirit of old. Songs were thrown back into the mix with a story about a would-be princess. Even the computer animation looked handdrawn with its vivid colors and dreamy look. It was the best of both worlds.
This time Disney decided to take on the task of retelling the story of Rapunzel. As with all Disney movies, the studio doesn't ever strictly adhere to the original fairy tale. It's used more or less as a guideline, and then they fill in the cracks with colorful characters and zany situations.
In this version of the fairy tale, a ray of sunshine fell from the sky, creating a magical flower that would heal anyone that touched it. An evil woman named Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) found the flower and used its powers to stay young forever. That is, until the kingdom needed the flower to save their dying queen. By using the healing power of the magical flower while she was pregnant it ensured that her future baby girl would be empowered with the same healing magic. Rapunzel is born, and is quickly stolen by Mother Gothel, because Rapunzel's hair holds the key to immortality. She locks Rapunzel away in a tower, pretends to be her mother, and well, you know the rest of the story.
Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) is a rapscallion of a man. He's wanted in the kingdom for thieving a precious crown from the royal family. He's the atypical Disney hero, sporting just enough lackadaisical devil-may-care attitude to make him extremely likable. Rounding out the cast of characters are a couple of Disney's signature animal sidekicks. A chameleon named Pascal, and a palace horse named Maximus. Like so many other Disney movies, the animals do things that normal animals would never do, but this movie is smart enough to point out those moments. When Flynn finds himself bizarrely sword fighting with Maximus he exclaims "You should know this is the strangest thing I've ever done."
Like Disney's recent live-action fairy tale 'Enchanted', 'Tangled' is self-aware of the irksome clichés that creep into fairy tale movies. Instead of living on them, they point them out and make fun of them all the while using those very same story devices to create a movie that's almost impossible to not like. There's just something about 'Tangled'. Its energetic spirit draws you in. It's got some of the best Disney songs since 'The Little Mermaid'. In short it has everything that you'd ever want from a Disney animated movie. It seems fitting that a film that has combined old and new Disney into an enchanting film, would mark the studio's milestone of 50 animated features. Here's to another 50.
Nothing against 3D. I know that the technology has its proponents, and if you want to watch 'Tangled' in all its 3D glory then go right ahead. As for myself, I'm not a fan. I remember watching 'Tangled' in the theater with those dark glasses on lamenting the fact that this vibrantly colorful movie was about two shades dimmer than what it should have been. This is my first time viewing the movie without a pair of 3D glasses on my face, and I must say, it looks simply amazing.
The 1080p AVC-encoded picture is breathtaking. Like I said in my review, the lushness and colorfulness of the animation make give this an almost hand drawn look. Colors are stupendous. From the bright greens of the forest to the golden blonde locks of the heroine, the colors simply burst off the screen. It's a relief to see the movie without being encumbered by darkened lenses. To see the natural color that was meant to be enjoyed.
Detail is optimum throughout. The textured walls of Rapunzel's tower home are well defined. Her magical locks, every strand, is perfectly placed and flows just like real hair would. All those strands of fine hair and not even a hint of aliasing. Just beautiful. Edges are well-defined and delineation works wonders, especially during the "Mother Knows Best" song as Mother Gothel creeps amongst the darkened shadows.
I didn't detect any banding, blocking or any other serious encoding side effects. This is a piece of high-def eye candy from start to finish.
Disney provides a lossless 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for 'Tangled' on Blu-ray. This is an action-packed audio mix featuring a wide variety of sound effects that pop in and out of each and every one of the surround channels. Surrounds are alive with sound during most of the scenes, whether it be a bar full of dangerous looking miscreants or a raging torrent of water that's just been released from the dam. The sounds here surround you, immersing you in the environment and action.
Dialogue is presented clearly through the front channels. Directionality is fabulous during many of the music scenes that have characters singing just out of frame. Fidelity is top-notch. Like many of the other lossless 7.1 tracks to come from Disney, this one is just as demo-worthy. It's an engaging track full of surround sound delights with a heavy helping of low end sonics whenever the situations become more intense.
I admit it, I was enamored with 'Tangled.' On my first viewing, after Rapunzel's first song, I was afraid I was about to sit through a Disney cash grab full of pop songs better suited to 'Hannah Montana'. Boy, was I glad when that fear was utterly squashed. To go along with this brilliant little film, Disney has provided flawless video and audio presentations. There are a few special features here that may please fans. All in all, 'Tangled' comes highly recommended.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.