Once again, this is Disney's 2D incarnation that we're talking about here, although those without 3D capability will certainly not be disappointed by the gilded transfer that Tangled has been given.
Encoded with AVC, Disney's typically terrific transfer is almost flawless, with only one or two caveats that hold it short of top marks. The pure digital print, as you would expect, is in pristine condition. The 1.78:1 image is awash with colour, rich with detail and positively entrancing to behold. The animation is perfectly captured without any untoward enhancement, and no aliasing afflicts the fast action, nor any smearing of the well-saturated colour scheme. I think I see some very slight banding, though this is most assurdely nothing to get in a tangle over, but what I did find slightly distracting was the contrast that seems a touch too high. The spectrum is fully employed throughout, but I kept noticing that the push towards yellow, red and gold was exaggerated, leading the image to become too bright and shimmering on occasion. Whilst this is a necessary element to the visual narrative and the mood of the saga, I think it has been slightly overcooked here. Again, this is a small complaint but, if you'll pardon the expression, it does take the shine off what is, otherwise, an exemplary and achingly beautiful picture.
Colours are staggeringly luxurious. Of course they are. It's Disney … and if they weren't eye-swooningly entrapturing you'd be demanding your money back. But there is a lushness of saturation and a sumptuous blending of shading that means the image is always lustrous and breathtaking to behold. Greens, purples, blues, reds and oranges are radiant and so warm that you would forgiven for believing that had just melted through the screen. But, the incandescent glow of the big lantern-scene is just about the most jaw-droppingly mesmerising of the lot. The sequence is simply gorgeous, folks and provides the sort of atmospheric visual poetry that you just want to climb into. The transition from orange to yellow is extremely well maintained, and the image just becomes so burnished that you would think you could prospect it. Shadows and shading in the more secluded and less sunny locations are quite special too - traipsing through these woods to find The Snuggly Duckling, for instance.
Blacks are perhaps not as deep as I thought they would be, but they are still extremely effective, just the same. When Rapunzel and Flynn are trapped beneath the dark water, the image is not as Stygian as it could have been, especially when we know the image is soon to be cleaved apart with the gorgeous golden gleam of the heroine's luxuriant magical hair. Elsewhere, shadow-play is still very good, with cool tree-dappled patterns and a nice sense of the forest canopy. Depth of field is excellent throughout. The visual distance between foreground and background is wonderfully deep and involving, with all the range in-between just as joyously depicted. The settings – the glen surrounding the tower, the bridge heading towards the kingdom, the fall down the cliff-side, the view down from Rapunzel's window etc – all look extremely well rendered with a maximum eye for depth perception, and don't forget that this is away from the 3D image.
And the detail on offer is pretty much all that you could wish for. Granted, this doesn't offer the level and pin-sharp clarity of a Pixar film, but the exquisite animation here still caters for a huge amount of texture and finite gradation that the transfer is more than capable of handling. Striations and grain in wood and stone are revealed. The minute leaves of ivy and the blades of grass. Nice little embroidered adornments on clothing and the strands of hair – a touch more clumpy and shimmering for Rapunzel (as it should be) and more finely animated for Flynn, perhaps – add the finishing touches to an image that feels alive and zestful.
Very close to top marks here … but still, officially, a 9 out of 10.
Tangled employs the full width and spatial activity of a rich and rewarding DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio track. Unlike some mixes that boast such a configuration, this one actually does offer up detail within those extra channels. Quite sensationally, there are several smart 360-degree pans that glide through all the speakers with a natural ease and smooth fluidity, following the onscreen action perfectly and providing you with that little audio-junkie's grin. There is even an instance when we hear some nice dialogue wraparound that reveals the clarity and precision of this all-immersive quality too.
The score plays a huge part in the film, of course, and this is expertly showcased with tip-top spread, an enthusiastic presentation and keenly realised prioritisation around the speakers. The songs are belted-out with warmth and dynamic reach, sharp vocal clarity and the orchestral elements possess an ebullience and an energy that merrily filters all around the environment.
Dialogue throughout is perfectly clear and well-balanced. Directionality is tight and focussed. There is ample depth to the audio, and a wide spread across the front. The film certainly looks alive, but with this scintillating track it feels alive too. There are numerous subtleties and hubbub, the mix put together with close attention to the onscreen action, as opposed the often lazy approach that many family films adopt.
And it also sounds quite deliberately punchy too.
Sub-action is especially impressive. Although we have become accustomed to such things with other more typically bombastic fare doled-out in the action genre, I actually found that I was genuinely reminded of that deep-sounding, belly-flipping crunch of bass that you used to associate with that glorious up-front cinematic experience. There is a great impact for Maximus landing after a jump as he pursues Flynn that really provides that delicious and, indeed, somewhat nostalgic effect. The big collapse of a dam sends rushing flood-water all around the soundscape, and the cracking-asunder of wooden struts is keenly felt. The more immediate clangs of the frying-pan are marvellously etched into the mix, too. There's a nice whistling flyby as an axe is hurled, followed by a deep thunk! The pushing aside of a rock wall, and the skittering of loose stones is also well captured and presented by a track that is far more detailed than you would have thought.
At the flicks, I'll admit that I was surrounded by squawking kids, but I'm pretty sure that Tangled didn't sound anywhere near as good as it does here.
Another great 9 out of 10 from me.
But this is where it all crumbles, I'm afraid.
Considering the high-profile and popularity of Tangled, it is disappointing to see such a poor selection of extra features in this combo package.
Rough animation and temp vocals adorn the cluster of Deleted Scenes, which come with an introduction from the directors. Sadly, none of them are up to much.
The exceedingly poor Untangled: The Making of a Fairy Tale lasts for around 12 minutes and tells us virtually nothing that we couldn't have already guessed. Happily hosted by the vocal stars of the film – Moore and Levi – this reveals next to nothing of the creative process that went into the production. Terrible.
There are two Storybook Openings that can be viewed individually, with intros from the director duo. Once more, these are unfinished.
In Tangled Teasers, we get to see the large assortment of themed trailers that supported the film. Lasting for over nine minutes, this is a great little collection that delve into various aspects of the film's story with a sly knowing wink.
The two directors usher in a couple of Extended Songs - “When Will My Life Begin” and the great “Mother Knows Best”.
50th Animated Feature Countdown is nothing more than a series of clips from all of Disney's back-catalogue leading up to Tangled.
All in all, this is woeful.
Another highly enjoyable romp from Uncle Walt's fun factory, Tangled takes mighty artistic license with the classic fairytale but still comes up with the goods. Sublime animation and a melted rainbow providing the colour scheme make for eye-candy of the most ravishing and addictive variety. But the characters are happily charismatic, even if they are not exactly bringing anything new to the table of the House of Mouse. Donna Murphy clearly revels in her role as the wicked charlatan mother and manages to bring a definite sense of sadism to her stop-at-nothing control freak. The addition of Maximus the horse was a stroke of genius, even if he does become just part of the overall good-time vibe by the end of the film. The story is no great shakes, to be honest, but it is a perfect example of how the studio can take even the slightest of traditional yarns and weave something funny and exciting and entertaining out of it.
As we now have every right to expect, Disney's Blu-ray yields a tremendous AV transfer. The image is typically gorgeous with that melt-in-the-eye appeal, and the sound mix is equally rewarding, actually enjoying the extra dimension of the 7.1 configuration with proper use of the full sound design. But the fly in the colourful ointment is the lack of anything of value in the extras department. I'm stunned that nothing more could have been supplied for a film that was so well-received theatrically. Considering that I've probably spent almost a hundred quid on merchandise from it for my daughter, I think that I, as a grownup, could have expected a little bit more from its home video release.
Tangled is not a classic Disney film, however. It will not be remembered in the same breath as the Golden Age gems or anywhere near the likes of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King or Aladdin. I still think it is missing a set-piece or two. But this is still an excellent little adventure that brings a gothic tale to life with oodles of charm and personality.
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