By The Toy Story Fanatic Devo
One of the movies that I would argue was the most influential in saving Disney Animation Studios from permanent retirement was Tangled. The film was amazing and Rapunzel was the first princess that I remember falling in love with. All of the sudden, we get announcements of a new TV series with a new movie to start things off.
This is my review of that film.
Is it Family Friendly?
I remember ABC used to have “The Wonderful World Of Disney” or as my un-poetic 5-6-year-old self called it “Sunday Night Disney Movie Time”. My family would get together every week and watch whatever movie they decided to show that week. So as far as I’m concerned, Disney movies should be a family affair and parents/ guardians should have the right to know what their kids are watching before they watch it (or at least watch it with them).
I am pleased to announce that not only is this movie suitable for all ages, it is every bit as entertaining and thought provoking as a theatrical release. Feel free to expose children from 1 day to 1 million years to Tangled: Before Ever After.
What does the movie accomplish?
A good film is based off two things: 1) An interesting and engaging world for it to take place in and 2) characters that are so real that you forget they are fake. The greatest sequels (think “Empire Strikes Back” or “Toy Story 2”) take these aspects of the original and expands them.
Very near the beginning of the film, we get a new intro song (“Life after Happily Ever After”) that shows not only how Rapunzel feels about her new royal surroundings but also how Eugene has been adjusting. We learn about their new dreams that they have and some of their fears. Already the two are placed at near opposite places from each other in terms of how they feel about the new status quo.
We then learn about the king and queen. We see them interact with their daughter for the first… time… in… forever… (dang it Frozen) and what we see is very interesting. The king hopes for his daughter to be safe and still suffers endless nightmares of the night when Rapunzel was taken from them and the queen is portrayed as a great pillar of strength for the king as he tries to fulfill his fatherly duties. Being able to see the king and queen portrayed this way automatically makes me connect and love them even more than I did before, even when they make choices that make me sad inside.
The world building is fascinating as well. Before, the only bad guy that we had was Mother Gothel. Everyone else was just someone with a dream. That is, until this film. The main villainess, Lady Kane, is a great example of world building when she talks about how her father was harshly treated in prison and disappeared completely when Rapunzel was taken and the king placed more emphasis on crime elimination. This statement is further explained when the king expresses his fears for Rapunzel’s safety saying that the kingdom is always in a fragile state between peace and chaos, and lucky us! We get to see some of that chaos. All of the sudden, Corona stopped being this happy place where everyone just danced and lit lanterns and became a real, interesting and engaging city where infinite stories could be taking place.
Speaking of Lady Kane, the new characters introduced to this world feel right at home. Cassandra (Rapunzel’s new lady-in-waiting), is every bit as unique and engaging as the familiar main cast and Lady Kane accomplishes everything that I would hope the main villain would as far as motives and design (which is relieving since female villains are notorious for being quite shallow).
One last note: Pay attention to the guards. What they do is hilarious.
The look of the movie was one of my favorite parts.
For a long time, I ran an animation workshop on my college campus. One of the things that I found most interesting about animation is how the aesthetics changed when 3d was introduced. 3D provides artists with the ability to put almost life-like detail into an object where with 2D you are limited as to what details you include and exclude; a good team can take these limitations and turn it into something beautiful (case in point: Sleeping Beauty. I would say that as far as art goes it is one of the most beautiful movies made).
2D is where this movie excelled and stands out above the crowd. The stylized look of everything made not only the characters slightly more engaging but made the scenery really beautiful and interesting. amplification through simplification is what I like to call that effect.
I did notice that the art style of the film is very similar to “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” which makes sense seeing as how they are both Disney Channel Originals made in-house. I like the cartoony style personally, but don’t be fooled by this aesthetic. The humor and vibrant use of color pull this movie out of the “kids only” section and into the “family zone”. (Also gets my fandom brain going. Does this mean that Tangled, Peter Pan, and Frozen all take place on the same timeline? Hmm…)
Now the problems:
Because no movie is perfect.
Any movie that is supposed to tie into a TV series and especially one that starts the series will run into problems with being gimmicky, especially with a fandom as big as Disney’s where they will be torn apart for every inconsistency (remember the old Ducktales movie? Talk about inconsistencies). The fact that Rapunzel’s hair does come back is essential (maybe) to making the series and there were a couple of scenes between Rapunzel and her parents, particularly her mother, and bumps in Eugene’s journey that left the movie too open ended for to be considered anything but a series opener.
The movie accomplished its purpose in getting me to want to see the upcoming series but also left me with a half-empty feeling inside with all of the unresolved plot points. My biggest hope is that the series doesn’t take too long to trim out all the split ends (hair jokes).
The real magic of this movie is that it feels like coming home but someone re-arranged the furniture, set up a comfortable hammock, and stocked the fridge with pizza and a promise to bring more every week. Familiar homages to the first film and (more importantly) obedience to the rules that were set there make the movie feel familiar but there was just enough different to make it engaging, make you want more, and make you ecstatic to realize that more is coming.
Most people I talk to agree with me: Disney TV Animation has been spotty at best since the loss of Kim Possible with the bright island that was Phineas and Ferb. Tangled represented a changing point in Disney’s theatrical animation, and I’m hoping that Tangled: Before Ever After can do the same thing for their TV animation division. So far they are off to a phenomenal start, leaving me hungry for more.
Check your local listings for times when the movie may be shown again on Disney Channel, or check the Disney Channel website if you missed the film. If it’s too late, don’t fret. Disney gets these things released for purchase pretty quickly so the wait shouldn’t be too long. Everything I find also says the DVD should be released in early April.
Have you seen the movie? What were your thoughts? Do you call him Eugene or Flynn? Let’s talk about it in the comments! Thanks for liking and sharing this review and remember to keep wishing on stars.