The best Disney film is Aladdin. It has the perfect Disney animated film formula. It’s a classic, well-known story brought up-to-date. It has brilliant songs with amazing scenes to go with them. It has a great hero, a strong female character and an amazing villain. Best of all, it slowly builds to a huge set-piece finale which tests the main character and makes it feel like he is overcoming the odds.
Look back at the best Disney films; Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. They all follow the same formula and although that would usually be something I would be against, it works so well here that it shouldn’t be changed. The only reason Aladdin manages to edge itself against the others is that it has Robin Williams as the Genie.
Tangled felt like Disney’s first real attempt to join the computer animated arena. Pixar, who are owned by Disney, have their own criteria for success which works for them, but Disney needed to recreate some of the magic that I don’t think they’ve really had since The Lion King. Tangled goes some way to achieving that.
It is based on a great, familiar story, Rapunzel. Although it’s not the best fairy tale, Disney are running out and it does offer a new princess for them to add to their ridiculously popular range. It also has a fantastic leading hero, who is not unlike Aladdin. Flynn Rider is brave, heroic, pulls off cool action stunts and is also funny/goofy.
The villain could be better. The best Disney villains have some real evil in them and pose a true threat. Jafar and Ursula had magic, meaning their final battles were amazing spectacles that posed a real challenge to our heroes. Mother Gothel doesn’t really have anything. She is just evil and scheming and although she does some very nasty things, there is never any true threat and consequently, there is no huge finale.
That was always my favourite aspect of any Disney film. The set-piece, action sequences. The flying carpet through a collapsing, lava filled cave, the ship-wreck in the middle of a storm or a rescue in a stampede. Tangled has some of this, the flooding valley being the best example but they come early and are over too quickly. It doesn’t build to anything like the best Disney films do.
It also lacks the amazing, classic songs that Disney just don’t seem to create anymore. Maybe it’s because I grew up with some of these songs but nothing even came close to Whole New World, Beauty and the Beast or even lesser songs like Be Prepared. They were decent enough and had a touch of the Disney magic but then felt instantly forgettable.
There are some great aspects to the film. The use of Rapunzel’s hair is very inventive and gives the film that touch of Disney edge that other animated films lack. The story itself is very good and fits the fantasy, fairy tale framework brilliantly. It just doesn’t add up or compare to classic Disney. It feels like they have set themselves a very high benchmark, very early on, and can’t quite reach it again.
In a time when animated film are becoming more inventive and much more original, Disney need to recapture what made them so unique in the first place. Pixar are doing their thing really well and we can expect Dreamworks to create a brilliant animated film to nip at the heels of their Disney owned counterpart but maybe Disney as a studio should go back to classic animation. I know they recently created Princess and the Frog and although I haven’t seen it, maybe this is where their true success lies.
Overall, Tangled has some great ideas. The use of Rapunzel’s main feature is very inventive and the characters are very well written and feel like classic Disney but that is where the feeling ends. It lack any memorable songs, any huge set-pieces or the magic that made Disney the leader in animated film back when I was a kid.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)