“What’s your favourite Disney movie in the last ten years?”
This question is becoming more daunting to answer every year as Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) continues to undergo a creative revival. Their stories fill our imaginations with more memorable characters and thrilling tales, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Pixar’s run of amazing feature films from 1995 to 2010 (or what I like to call the Fab Eleven). In the last decade, WDAS has produced films that could even compete with Pixar’s Fab Eleven like last year’s compelling parable of modern society, ‘Zootopia’, one of the best video-game films of all time, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, and a comic book adaptation as good as if not better than many of Marvel Studios’ own films, ‘Big Hero 6’. While these three feel like Pixar films, in the past few years they’ve gone one better and perfected the fairy-tale musical genre they first invented with ‘Moana’ and ‘Frozen’.
So what is my favourite Disney movie of the last ten years? There’s definitely been a whole slew of amazing and dazzling productions produced by WDAS. However, if I were to choose it will be 2010’s ‘Tangled’ which launched the WDAS revival. It was a critical and financial success with a worldwide gross of just under $600 million, a number that Disney hadn’t reached since ‘The Lion King’ roared into theatres in 1994. And, what a coincidence, there’s a new ‘Tangled’ movie out in 2017, though instead of going the theatrical route that Disney has chosen with ‘Frozen’ and ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, ‘Tangled’ is instead getting a sequel as a Disney Channel Original Movie – a first for one of Disney’s animated theatrical films.
Before going into ‘Tangled: Before Ever After’, you its important to set your expectations for it as less of a sequel and more of an hour-long pilot for the upcoming ‘Tangled: The Series’ later this month since the film doesn’t have a solid conclusion and the film doesn’t give you all the answers to questions you may have while watching the movie, as these answers will be explored throughout the series. While yes it is a sequel to the original 2010 film- the story takes place six months after the first film- you will be disappointed if you think you are getting a “full story” type of movie, so judging it as a feature-long pilot is much more justified.
The film’s story sets up that today is a special day as it’s Rapunzel’s coronation to become princess of Corona. However, because she was taken as a baby, she doesn’t feel as though she is fitting into the royal lifestyle, which is understandable for someone who lost 18 years of her normal life. However, not everything goes according to plan as Rapunzel soon must also deal with having her 70-feet-long blonde hair return. So now she has to try and hide it from her parents and the one that she cares most about: Eugene.
It’s great to revisit this world and the characters again, with stellar vocal performances by the first film’s returning cast, including Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi. Having them return feels just right, and I’m glad they reprise their roles rather than resorting to recasting them as happens to most Disney cartoons based on movies. The film’s animation is extremely beautiful to watch, even though it’s all traditional 2D animation this time around, instead of the first film’s CGI. It’s a route I’m glad they took as most times CGI shows just don’t look as great as their movie counterparts due to an obvious television budget compared to a movie budget. It was a little jarring at first seeing these CGI characters in 2D, but after the first five to ten minutes, I settled back into the film as the characters thankfully retain their lovable traits and personality. The animation is visually engaging and offers a more storybook-like style as if this was a children’s book illustration coming to life.
The music isn’t as memorable as the first film’s “I See the Light” or “Mother Knows Best” but ‘Tangled: Before Ever After’ only has two real songs (three if you count the reprise) and they are both original songs written by the first film’s song writers and composers, like the Disney legend Alan Menken and Glenn Slater. They still do a really good job as I love the signature song, “Wind in My Hair”, and the film’s opening track “Life After Happily Ever After”.
‘Tangled: Before Ever After’ may be a little too cartoonish at times compared to the first film, but it’s a worthwhile sequel that sets up the show’s story, which makes you intrigued as to discover what’s going on and what’s going to come as the series progresses. Thankfully, the show is off to a strong start here with beautiful traditional animation, likeable characters who have plenty of heart, and some songs that will make you sing along.
“Plus est en vous”.