Reviewed May 22, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
After the disappointing The Princess and the Frog we finally get the first decent traditional Disney story in years. It sticks closely to the familiar Disney fairytale template, some may find it a dated formula but I still think it works very well and it is not as if this type of film is that common in cinemas anymore. It does deviate in two clear ways; the lack of talking animals and a more ambiguous villain, and both changes work a treat. The two animal characters are fantastic, full of character but not necessarily taking over the film. They aren't overused to provide all the laughs like many comic relief characters often are. The villain is also excellent, she felt like a traditional Disney antagonist but the relationship she has with Rapunzel made her far more interesting and I thought the twisted mother-daughter dynamic was played out quite brilliantly in parts. She is the sort of bad guy that the parents and adults will react to more than the children which was an interesting direction to take.
I really liked both Flynn and Rapunzel too, they weren't too larger than life to by unsympathetic and whilst their relationship was developed in a predictable way the film still managed to achieve the right emotional response at the climax. The action was well choreographed and felt intrinsic to the story rather than a scene just thrown in to make it a bit pacier. All the jokes hit the spot and even the songs were pretty good. The film also has a moment that will rival the most famous Disney sequences in the stunning lantern scene (for once I wish I had seen it in 3D). The animation is deserving of extra praise as it is quite beautiful. I wasn't all the keen on the change in direction, and perhaps a film looking like the original test footage would have been even better, but the film we end up with is still a treat for the eyes. The lighting is some of the finest I've seen in a CGI animated feature and it is so pleasing to see the animators being trusted to tell the story and convey emotion rather than relying on dialogue cues (the King and Queen are two great characters despite being in it for about two minutes and not having a single line of dialogue).
Whilst it is true that the film can't compete with the true greats of Disney it is every bit as good or better than those they were making in the mid to late '90s and head, shoulders and a really tall hat above any of the other features made under Lasseter's tenure so far (Pixar films excluded).