Review: Tangled


I think most will agree that ever since Disney made the switch to CGI itâ’s felt like they’ve been stumbling a bit to find their place and transfer their endearing formula into the new medium. Because of this noticeable uncertainty I’ve skipped a few of their recent films, and wasn’t at all impressed when I did eventually see Bolt and others.

With Tangled it’s been tangible how proud and confident they are with their new work and I couldn’t resist checking out if they’re back in full force yet. There were some serious flaws, but there were also some classic Disney moments on the big screen for the first time in what may be over a decade. I definitely walked out at the end feeling happy, but that doesn’t cover up the fact that there were many minor problems in this film. Read on for spoilers of what exactly went right and wrong.

Visually Tangled was a complete success, with the environment and mood of the castle and outlying regions all hitting the perfect blend of simplicity and imaginative textures. For the gamer in me, it truly felt like I was exploring a higher polygon 2020 version of World of Warcraft’s Goldshire regions, complete with plenty of hidden areas. Every tree and leaf looked so delicious that I actually kind of want to play the Wii game even though it looks pitiful by comparison. The lighting in the movie had a great recurring importance in scenes, with the floating lantern event easily topping the jellyfish scene from Finding Nemo in its majestic mood. It’s a joy to be seeing light not just shine on skin, but also glow through characters and illuminating their fingertips.

My favorite things in the movie by far were the two animals as supporting cast. A pet chameleon is so genius that I’m surprised we’ve never seen it in a past Disney film before. I loved his comical camouflage and how he was an overconfident guardian who wasn’t afraid to frown at characters much larger than him or stick his tongue in their ear to get their attention. As much as I loved him, I loved the horse that thinks he’s a hunting dog even more, and he’s one of the best characters I’ve ever seen in any Disney film. Many of their scenes were so exceptional that you truly see a 10/10 classic Disney scene play out for the first time in over a decade, which mostly makes up for the many minor complaints that I can’t omit mentioning.

Aside from the ending’s revelation that’s borderline nonsensical, I have no complaints with the story – though I do feel that an adult themed version of the story could make for a powerful film – but I do have some gripes with the characters. While I dislike some minor things with Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and her wicked Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), the Flynn Ryder (Zachary Levi) love interest was incredibly hollow. Because almost all of his scenes were from Rapunzel’s perspective, we never see any believable development in his emotions, and just accept that he’s a charming doofus of a thief who’s walking through the typical checkpoints of finding his heart, but it’s all so weak.

As for Rapunzel, she was great if you can accept that she’s an 18-year-old even though she looks and acts 13, and also accept that she hasn’t ever rebelled against her mother at all in her life up until now, and also accept that she does the same exact thing every day of her life. That’s a lot of small issues you have to swallow right off the bat, but from there you’re sent on your way to a great performance, and her movements make for some of the best character animations in the film. Her actions are so lively that it almost felt like I was watching an old school 2D film in some parts as her exaggerated mannerisms entranced the audience.

The mother was oddly meaner than necessary for a children’s movie, which I suppose is a good thing, but the constant “ha ha, just kidding” vibe that never felt quite right. I like that she wasn’t all mean all the time, but the balance wasn’t what it should have been; I wish she was less cruel and more evil instead of vice versa. To put it all clearly though, all three main characters are good, but not great. I can easily point to other Disney characters who were far better at the same things they were trying to accomplish. Ariel and Belle are much better examples of how to do Rapunzel’s emotional development while still having flaws that go beyond being clumsy, Aladdin is a much better setup that shows how Flynn Ryder didn’t need to be flat and dopey, and the mother was trumped by several other Disney female villains.  

Besides these small aspects that add up and hold the film back from being a great Disney story, the one thing that’s honestly done poorly and brings the overall score down quite a bit are the songs. It’s great that songs frequently burst out in the middle of scenes like the Disney films used to back in the day, but only one was remotely catchy and all were filled with underwhelming or garbled lyrics.

I can also confirm that Tangled makes good use of the 3D glasses, so it’s definitely worth the extra cash if you see it in theaters, but you should hit up a matinee showing to break even.

Matthew Razak:

Overall Score: 8.50 — Tangled  is everything a Disney movie should be. Beautiful animation, catchy music and a classic tale. You can read his full review here!