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Blu-ray Review: Disney’s Tangled
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Tangled

Tangled
3D Blu-ray | Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Byron Howard, Nathan Greno
Starring Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Brad Garrett, Ron Perlman
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Release date: March 29, 2011

With their 50th animated feature, Disney tackles the classic fairy tale Rapunzel, bringing to life the story of the young girl with golden tresses locked away high up in a tower, out of reach from the outside world.

In Tangled, the opening sequence gives us Rapunzel’s history: stolen from her King and Queen parents as a newborn by an wicked old woman named Gothel (Donna Murphy), Rapunzel’s long blonde hair holds the power to restore youth, hence why the witch keeps the princess captive. The girl, not knowing her true origin, lives her life in a high tower with no doors, with no friends or interaction with the outside world. Each day, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) lets down her 70-feet of hair through the window for Mother Gothel to climb up. Just before her 18th birthday, the teen has just one wish: to go see the floating lanterns that are lit each year on her birthday, but Gothel has no intention of letting the girl leave “home.”

It wouldn’t be much of a tale if Rapunzel was complacent and obeyed her guardian by staying in solitary in her tower, although we do see that the girl doesn’t just sit and wallow all day. When she sings “When Will My Life Begin?,” where she chronicles all the things she does in a day, we find out she’s quite busy knitting, cooking, painting, and brushing that hair. From an outside perspective, she has quite a fulfilling life, but the isolation is too much for the girl, so when she hatches a plan to go out on an adventure, we totally hope she gets away with it. Though Gothel warned her of the dangers of the outside world when she sang “Mother Knows Best” only to keep Rapunzel from leaving, we know that things could actually be dangerous for a young naive girl. Luckily, Rapunzel, armed with a frying pan, manages to hold her own after teaming up with a rogue named Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) who made the initial mistake of trying to hide out her the tower.

I got to see Tangled when it was released in theaters and I was immediately impressed with the animation, as I felt that it was near-Pixar quality. Animating Rapunzel’s golden locks had to be difficult, but the animators did a wonderful job making it look almost real. Another part I loved was the scenery: the outside of the tower was gorgeous and the inside was filled with nice touches, and nods to other Disney films. I loved the village where she gets her hair done up with flowers — not only was this a nice touch, but I instantly pictured a Rapunzel hair salon making its way to Disney parks. Speaking of Disney parks, I could also imagine a lantern lighting ceremony taking place there, just like in the movie.

The Rapunzel character is instantly likable from the moment the wide-eyed golden blonde baby is born through her current state as an intelligent, creative, and feisty teenager. You can’t help but want her to achieve all of her goals and have all of her wishes come true and to eventually be reunited with her royal family. On the other hand, Mother Gothel is instantly loathed. At first, it seems that perhaps Gothel isn’t mean to the girl, but instead a loving mother. After a while, we see that though Gothel didn’t physically harm the child or deprive of food or anything like that, she also wasn’t very nice to her. She says things like “Mommy loves you” with a smile, but at the same time, is sarcastic to the girl, constantly putting her down in order to keep her in check. Thankfully, the young girl never seemed to take any of the insults to heart and has managed to keep her sunny disposition.

Then there’s Flynn. I felt he took some getting used to, and his opening narration of Rapunzel’s origins was a bit out of place for a Disney movie like Tangled, which takes its cues from classic Disney tales like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty, and The Little Mermaid. Flynn’s handsome, but his scoundrel ways and attitude seem an unlikely pairing to the young Rapunzel’s naivete. I’m glad the filmmakers didn’t have Rapunzel instantly fall in love with the first man she saw, and while she has zero experience with anyone other than the woman she thinks is her mother, she isn’t taken in by Flynn’s conniving. She’s cautious, but her need for speed so to speak prompts her to go on an adventure with the rogue regardless of how untrustworthy he seems.

Tangled is in part about Rapunzel’s quest for freedom along with Flynn’s eventual need for redemption, and less about the greedy Gothel and her plans. Gothel is mainly a selfish old woman who wants to remain youthful and she’ll do whatever she has to do to keep Rapunzel under her thumb, though I felt that she was more manipulative than she was forceful.

While it starts out quite rocky, eventually Rapunzel and Flynn’s chemistry grows and there’s lots of fun to be had. There’s a sequence that is practically a rollercoaster ride in the making (again, I can see this coming to Disney parks). Then there’s Maximus, the horse. I don’t think there’s ever been a more amusing horse in an animated movie. Maximus takes himself and his duty as the royal guard’s lead horse very seriously. I see a Maximus spin-off in the future. Oh, and I have to mention little Pascal the chameleon, Rapunzel’s one and only friend and companion who’s been with her in the tower keeping her company. The non-speaking Pascal takes himself quite seriously too.

One of my favorite things about Tangled are the songs composed by Alan Menken, who scored previous Disney films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Hercules, and Aladdin, and if you enjoyed his other Disney tunes, you’ll love those for Tangled as well. “Mother Knows Bests” is reminiscent of Ursula’s song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid. “When Will My Life Begin” takes a more modern approach to the typical “One Day My Prince Will Come” ode, while “”I See the Light” is a sweet ballad sung by Rapunzel and Flynn.

Tangled is a highly entertaining offering that appeals to both children and adults and is a wonderful addition to Disney’s pantheon of great animated films.

Bonus Features

The 4-disc DVD/Blu-ray Combo Pack comes with a 3D Blu-ray disc with bonus features; Blu-ray disc with bonus features; DVD disc with limited bonus features; and a disc with the digital version.

BLU-RAY

Untangled: The Making of a Fairy Tale [12:28]
Stars Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi host this making-of featurette, which includes a quick look at all 50 Disney animated features, as well as other fun facts from Tangled and other Disney films. The filmmakers talk about coming up with the look of the characters, and original drawings and sketches are shown. I want to mention that while I like what I saw in this featurette, I wish it had been longer and more focused on the actual “making of” the film. Or maybe more featurettes could have been created that hone in on the various elements of Tangled; for instance, I would have like to see more about the creating the hair, which looks amazing on screen.

Deleted Scenes
There’s 3 deleted scenes included here, all of which are introduced by the film’s directors. The scenes are not fully rendered and some do not have the original voice actors. Though the scenes might not have made the final cut, they did add a little more to the Tangled story; some of the material was actually split up and used in different ways in the film.
– The Jaunty Moose [6:51]
– Chemistry Develops [1:44]
– “Vigor The Visionary” [3:43]

Extended Songs
These are two extended versions of the songs that appear in Tangled, and the sequences are fully animated. Both songs are introduced by the co-directors, who explain why the songs were ultimately shortened.
– “When Will My Life Begin” [3:35]
– “Mother Knows Best” [4:17]

Two Original Storybook Openings – There’s 2 alternate versions of the film’s opening, both of which are not narrated by Zachary Levi, who did the narration for the version that made it into the final film. Levi’s rendition was a lot more modern, while the alternates are in line with Disney’s traditional storybook narratives. These alternate openings are not fully rendered, with some parts of it just being line art, but are worth watching, as they contain extra information, and in some cases, different versions of the original story. Both openings here are introduced by the film’s co-directors, Nathan Greno and Byron Howard.

50th Animated Feature Countdown – [2:03]
This is a montage of all 50 of Disney’s animated features, which ends with #50, Tangled.

Tangled Teasers
These are 9 commercials created for the theatrical release of the film, some of which tout fictional products like “RapunzHair,” which has healing powers. Others included are humorous animations and news items. All are very cute tie-ins for the film.

DVD & Digital Download come with the “Two Original Storybook Openings” and “50th Animated Feature Countdown” bonus features.

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