Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grudgingly Positive Movie Review: Tangled

Some say that Disney is a bloated, soulless corporate monster bent on sticking its copyrighted, candy-colored, mouse-flavored tentacles into the brain of every child on earth, using every adult with any money as its pawn to do so.

For example, I just said that.

A free movie is a free movie, however, and I was pleased to see a screening of Tangled, Disney's take on the story of Rapunzel, this evening.

Here's what I will tell you: that movie is beautiful.

It's computer animation, with a nice balance of 'real' with cartoon, making for super-clear, color-saturated scenes that still have a soft edge. They didn't try too hard to make the characters look realistically human (which so often just turns out weird and alien), so you have very unrealistic, cartoon proportions (especially on the female characters) that convey the idea of people without sticking too close to what people really look like.

Although there were a few scenes where the huge, HUGE eyes of both Rapunzel and the witch did make them look kind of creepy. But the landscapes, wow. I want to play that video game.

They fancied up the story a bit, as they usually do, throwing in some magic and giving the witch more of an evil motivation, and of course really beefing up the role of the male lead, who in the story only turns up at the end, but here is the narrator and co-star.

This is the latest in their Princess (registered trademark copyright sparkling fairy wand) line, and Rapunzel is the daughter of a king and queen here, while the hero is a dashing scoundrel. This is a reverse from the original story, where Rapunzel's parents were just some people who lived next to someone else's garden, and the prince was, well, a prince.

There's also the usual animal sidekicks (here a chameleon and a horse that seems to think it's a dog), but they mercifully do not talk. They get pretty good use out of funny expressions instead.

Rapunzel is a spirited sort who does interesting stuff using her hair as a lasso/weapon/extra limb as well as for the classic tower-access purposes, so she's probably a semi-positive role model for girls as long as they don't internalize the message that their bodies should be thinner than their heads. (There's a scene where she's trying on a crown, and she could seriously have worn it as a belt just as easily as on her head.)

The hero is a nice enough guy--I mean, he's a thief who abandons his partners and takes off with the loot the first chance he gets, but hanging out with Rapunzel soon brings him around and he turns out to have a decent heart and does the right thing when he gets the chance.

So pixie-ish charms and true love make everyone awesome!--except the woman who raised you as a mother but is really a horrible person who never loved you but was only using you to cheat death. Never trust anyone who raised you as a mother: that's a wholesome message I think we can all get behind.

Anyway, all flip remarks aside, I pretty much enjoyed this movie, and as I say, it was gorgeous to look at.

In terms of relevance to the purported main topics of this blog, I would note that Rapunzel's boredom in the tower (where she has only three books) makes a strong argument for the value of libraries. Also, there's a scene in a library of some sort later on, where Rapunzel shows appreciation of books and maps. This will clearly encourage young people to read and love literature. Right?

As for health, apparently both men and horses can easily survive falls down 50-foot cliffs onto solid ground, so don't even worry about that, but a knife to the gut is still pretty fatal. So worry about that, if you must worry about something.



Andrea said...

Glad you grudgingly enjoyed it. :)

The uncanny valley always fascinates me, but I really haven't run into too many examples of oogey human portrayals in my time.

A'Llyn said...

I also think it's fascinating. And I haven't see 'The Polar Express' in part because the faces creeped me out in the previews. In other part, just because it's not the kind of movie I normally have to run out and see, and I haven't gotten around to it.

Also, there are some kind of horrible faces in the video game 'Oblivion.' They try, and they almost look like people faces, but...yagh. I cut them some slack on account of some of them are supposed to look a little weird because they're elves and goblins and lizard people and such, but even the humans are weird and disturbing.

brian said...

no worries...I think I'll take advice and see on big screen :-)

Watch Tangled Online said...

Thanks for the review. I've been searching online for someone who doesn't think "everything Disney makes is cute", but who writes about reality. Still, you review is so positive, I will have to watch it now, won't I?.. ;) Thanks!

A'Llyn said...

Well, since you've named yourself Watch Tangled Online, I imagine you'll be able to do just that.