Tangled ruled the theatrical roost for quite a while last year, continuing Disney’s run of successful non-Pixar animated films. In light of its box-office dominance, Tangled was sure to be one of Disney’s showcase Blu-ray 3D releases this spring, second only to TRON: Legacy, a Blu-ray 3D review for which we’ll publish soon. Considering Tangled’s high profile, I expected great things, and the film certainly delivered. What I didn’t expect was just how awesome the Tangled 3D experience would be.
The plot of Tangled expands Disney’s recent pattern of turning age-old tales on their ear. First came the frog prince, which Disney masterfully skewed with The Princess and the Frog, and the studio’s work tweaking the Rapunzel storyline here is equally creative. An infant princess is kidnapped by an evil sorceress because her hair has fountain-of-youth properties. The girl, raised in a remote tower “because the world is dangerous,” grows up thinking the sorceress is just an overly protective mother. A bumbling (and handsome) thief climbs into the tower while escaping the king’s guards, opens the girl’s eyes to the real world and helps her discover not only her own identity, but that of the sorceress. Boy gets girl, girl gets crown, sorceress gets old, and the world is happy once again.
Throughout the adventure, whether you’re looking at Tangled’s world from the top of the tower or the bow of a boat, the film’s razor-sharp graphics jump in 3D with absolutely zero cross-talk. It’s clear from the opening sequence that Disney planned Tangled to be a 3D film, because every scene is composed with three dimensions in mind. The way the cameras are placed, the way they move through the environment, the way characters and objects transition between foreground and background, all combine to make Tangled a multi-dimensional masterpiece. That’s not to say it has the best graphics, although it’s certainly no slouch; it’s just to say Tangled presents impressive depth time and time again.
Ironically, some of the film’s most effective 3D scenes take place in the cramped tower. The tight quarters of the tower mean objects are littered about at varying distances, which provides a nice sense of depth. Perhaps more important, at least from a cinematography standpoint, is that the small interior requires some creative camera placements that really drive home the 3D effects. The result is easily the most expertly presented Blu-ray 3D I’ve seen. The fact that it’s a surprisingly entertaining movie for all ages? That’s just gravy.
The downer, of course, is that Tangled may be appropriate for everyone, but the active-shutter 3D technology isn’t. Adults and teens are just fine, but several sources have suggested that kids younger than eight shouldn’t view content using active-shutter 3D glasses. True, Disney packed-in the standard Blu-ray version in the same package, but it’s a shame that the youngest kids in the family won’t — or at least shouldn’t — see for themselves just how well Disney pulled off these 3D effects.
The 7.1 DTS-HD audio is another pleasant surprise, as you don’t always associate animated films with impressive rear-channel support. But Tangled features multiple horse-chase scenes, a fireworks display and more than its fair share of magical effects, all of which are rendered much more immersive by the Master Audio track.
The overall impression drops somewhat when it comes to the bonus features, but that’s due more to a lack of quantity than quality. The lack of selection is actually somewhat surprising, because Tangled is Disney’s 50th animated feature film. In fact, that milestone is so noteworthy there’s even a 50th Animated Feature Countdown video montage of films that paved the way for The Walt Disney Studios’ impressive feat. In the Deleted Scenes feature, the co-directors shed light about why each of three scenes was ultimately cut, and Two Original Storybook Openings give viewers a peek at to alternate openings that were axed while the co-directors explain their decision-making process.
Rounding out the bonus features are Nine Tangled Teasers, a collection of some of the film’s quirky pre-release commercials; Extended Songs, which provides the complete version of the film’s two standout songs; and Untangled: The Making of a Fairy Tale, which covers a whole mess of facts ranging from the length of Rapunzel’s hair to the first Disney film to use CG graphics.
Seeing how far Disney, and all the other studios for that matter, have come since the first CG animated film is remarkable, but in some respects watching that Making-Of bonus feature drives home just how impressive it is that Disney pulled-off what it did with the Tangled Blu-ray 3D. Many other movies have had nice 3D effects on an essentially 2D scene, but Tangled is one of the first I’ve seen where every second of the film was composed with three dimensions in mind. To see those dimensions pop off the screen at home is something to behold, and if you have a 3D TV, I recommend you pick up Tangled immediately to see it for yourself.
Click the following link to buy Tangled from Amazon.com: Tangled Four-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy).