Everyone knows the story of Rapunzel in some form or another. The basics that most probably take from it are that Rapunzel was a princess with long blond hair who lived alone in a tower. Essentially, Disney has taken that basic frame, molded a heartwarming tale that appeals to all ages, added some fun characters, and given us 'Tangled.'
Disney animation has come a long way over the years. At first we had the classic animation style featured in films like 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,' and 'Pinocchio.' Then Disney started to move to a more blended animation style, where they incorporated computer technology to give us films like 'The Lion King' and 'Beauty and the Beast.' Pixar was next on the scene and changed the entire game with fully computer animated feature films. It seemed for a time that the art of animation was lost, replaced by computer graphics. And then a film like 'Tangled' comes around, and for me, it's probably the first animated film to really mix the classic style of Disney hand-drawn animation with computer graphics. Watching 'Tangled' I almost felt as if I were watching a classic animated movie like 'Beauty and the Beast.' Sure, 'Tangled' is a fully computer animated film (and the most expensive ever produced at $260 million), but it truly creates that classic Disney animation feeling and mixes it with the advantages of modern technology.
So sure, 'Tangled' is a visually stunning movie but does it have a story to match up? I would say it most definitely does, and it's a very worthy addition to the Disney animation catalogue. 'Tangled' is the story of princess Rapunzel (Mandy Moore). Rapunzel has very special hair that has the ability to heal people or keep them young. An evil witch, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) realizes this power and kidnaps the princess at a young age in order to keep her power for herself. Rapunzel is taught that the outside world is dangerous and people know her hair is magical so they will always try and take it. As she grows up, Rapunzel grows curious of the outside world and longs to see it for herself. Through a set of circumstances, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), a thief from the city, ends up in her tower, and Rapunzel chooses to use him to explore the outside world. Without giving away any more, 'Tangled' features a heart warming story that introduces a superb blend of comedy and lessons kids will be able to learn, like it's OK to step outside your comfort zone and experience new things.
So aside from the fun story, what really makes this film so great? The characters. I found the voice casting of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi a refreshing surprise. Moore is an incredible vocal talent, so the decision to cast her as Rapunzel in a singing heavy script makes sense. Beyond the singing, Moore also lends exceptional spirit to the role. You can feel the passion in each line. The casting of Levi is a more intriguing decision by Disney. Levi is most well known for his role as Chuck on the NBC series with the same name. As a fan of that show, I knew Levi has great comic and dramatic potential, but I was unsure how he would fare as a voice actor. Overall, casting Levi was an ingenious move. Like his character Chuck, Levi brings an overconfidence and comedic mindset to the role of Flynn and I can't imagine another voice actor doing a finer job. Aside from the two leads, I felt connections to many of the supporting characters. Even though he doesn't speak, Pascal, Rapunzel's pet chameleon, proves to be a lovable animal sidekick. I also connected with the King and Queen. The memorable characters truly make this film work.
What more can you want from a film? 'Tangled' steps up and delivers some great songs to aid in the telling of the story. Alan Menken delivers the goods for this movie. Menken is a legend in Disney music, with his songs featured in films such as 'Aladdin,' 'Beauty and the Beast,' and 'The Little Mermaid,' just to name a few. The music's ability to masterfully drive emotion was nothing short of spectacular.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by 'Tangled.' Disney has created a timeless story that provides great replay value. I know I'll be watching this film several times. 'Tangled' strikes that rare balance of fun for both kids and adults. I can easily see this as a family movie night flick at households across the country. Finally, it's worth noting that 'Tangled' marks a milestone for Disney animation as 'it's their 50th animated release. How appropriate that they mark the occasion with a film as memorable as this.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Tangled's 3D Blu-ray combo pack comes packaged as a four disc set in a standard blue case. The first disc is the 3D Blu-ray version of the film, please note that this disc is only playable in a 3D Blu-ray player. The second disc is the Blu-ray version of the film and all the special features. The third disc is the DVD copy of the film. And finally, the fourth disc is the digital copy. The package also contains a holographic slip-cover. A coupon for a free bracelet and Rapunzel Charm (you pay shipping and handling) is also enclosed.
'Tangled' arrives on 3D Blu-ray in a stunning 1080p/ AVC MPEG-4 transfer framed at 1.78:1. Keeping up with their excellent early track record, Disney has outdone themselves with this release.
The strong points of this release are the colors and textures. Colors burst off the screen with rich greens, deep blues, and bright yellows. Even more impressive are the textures. Character animation is spectacular; skin tones are rich, fabric in clothing is realistic, and even better is the animation of hair. With a film about Rapunzel you would expect the hair to be a key feature and Disney has not taken this lightly. The animation process of her hair features over 100,000 individual strands, each reacting incredibly realistically to the surroundings. . The surroundings also lend themselves to HD. The forest environment is filled with bright bright colors and realistic textures in objects like tree bark or rocks on the forest floor. Finally, light is very responsive to various filtering objects such as glowing through the leaves of trees. Digital artifacts are nearly non-existent, this one is a stunner.
So how about the 3D? They're nearly as excellent as the color and texture presentation. Depth is constant throughout, making your TV seem infinitely deep at times. Never once was there an in your face, jump out of the screen moment. Instead, 3D was used to increase the scale of the film. This is most apparent in the lanterns sequence. Though plagued by ghosting a bit at first, it clears up and becomes one of the best 3D sequences of any film I have seen so far. Aside from the few instances of ghosting, the 3D takes nothing away from the colors or textures, it truly enhances the viewing experience of 'Tangled.'
Just like the video quality, audio is equally excellent. Disney provides an excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that does the wonderful score justice. The music is presented perfectly, with the high and low register notes flawlessly presented. Bass effects are also featured in most songs, but it's never overpowering. Surround effects aren't overused, but when they're employed, they're a lot of fun. Dialogue is also clear and centered. The only complaint I have with the sound presentation has more to do with the overall production, rather than the quality. I wish Disney had beefed up the effects a bit more in some of the chase sequences or the massive water tower crashing to the ground. Sure, the speakers and bass get a workout, but I'd like to have felt the floor rumbling in a sequence like that! That being said, this is still a top of the line soundtrack and fans should be very pleased.
'Tangled' arrives on Blu-ray with a few fun extras to go along with the film. Here are the non-format specific features offered up.
In case you can't tell by this point, I really enjoyed this movie. 'Tangled' is a refreshing, fun, and imaginative tale that viewers of all ages should enjoy. Aside from the movie itself, this four disc combo pack is one excellent package. It features four ways to watch the movie, as well as a few fun extras fans will enjoy. Disney has outdone themselves with the release of 'Tangled' and this is simply a must own package for fans of the film, and it's highly recommended for owners of 3D equipment.
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.