Tangled is Disney’s 50th theatrically-released feature animation, and when you consider the last one I saw at the cinema was Bolt in 2008 (number 48) and previously Lilo & Stitch back in 2002 (number 42), it’s been quite a while since I’ve really been excited about one of their releases. A few months ago I partook in a Disney marathon at a friend’s house (traditional 2D animation only), and as a consequence discovered that my favourite Disney features aren’t those universally loved (The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Atlantis: The Lost Empire) so I do have eclectic tastes when it comes to products of the House of Mouse.

Tangled is a perfectly competent entry into the Disney fairytale tradition, even if it fails to sparkle like their best work.Tangled Originally titled Rapunzel, it features she of the long, blonde hair (Mandy Moore) housed at the top of a high tower, dreaming of the day she will finally be allowed to venture outside. Salvation comes in the unlikely form of master thief, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), who stumbles across the secret entrance to the secluded valley one day whilst on the run after a particularly daring heist.

Moore is faultless as Rapunzel, and perhaps this is because of the natural enthusiasm she seems to exude in every role – it’s certainly hard to imagine her as a world-weary, cynical police detective, for instance. This kind of bright-eyed innocence suits the character well, and she is the only cast member that really stands out. Levi and Donna Murphy (Mother Gothel) are adequate but nothing special. I would blame it on lack of proper characterisation in the script, but when you consider the sterling job Kevin Kline did as Phoebus (whose character was very similar) in Hunchback, then one could argue there was room for improvement on Levi’s part.

Tangled is beautiful, but there are two rather prominent issues outstanding. One is the 3D – fine, but a completely unnecessary added cost to viewers – and the other is the computer animation itself. CGI is great when it comes to matte paintings and the scenery generally, but here the character animation simply can’t compare with Disney’s hand-drawn works. There’s something wrong with the mouths – the lips simply aren’t as flexible as they should be, which meant that I was constantly distracted by poor lip-synching. It may seem unfair to be comparing CGI animation to the traditional equivalent, but Disney has such a proud history of the latter that it’s hard not to do so.

It does feature four or five songs, though none get stuck in your head the way some of Disney’s previous hits have. The film also fails to provide any memorable supporting characters. In fact, it feels a little too barren at times. Tangled is worth a watch on DVD, but perhaps doesn’t have much to offer those who aren’t aficionados of animation or Disney’s works in particular.

Rating: 3 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 15th January 2011
Hoopla Factor: 3 stars

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