Saturday, November 27, 2010

“Movie Review: Disney's 'Tangled' updates Rapunzel - Delaware County Daily Times” plus 1 more

“Movie Review: Disney's 'Tangled' updates Rapunzel - Delaware County Daily Times” plus 1 more


Movie Review: Disney's 'Tangled' updates Rapunzel - Delaware County Daily Times

Posted: 27 Nov 2010 12:56 AM PST

In this film publicity image released by Disney, Rapunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore, right, and Flynn, voiced by Zachary Levi are shown in a scene from the animated feature, "Tangled." (AP Photo/Disney Enterprises, Inc.)

NEW YORK (AP) --- Walt Disney's modernizing of the Grimm fairy tale is thorough enough that even the original title, "Rapunzel," has been swapped for "Tangled." One can't help but wonder if in today's Hollywood, we might look forward to other contempo fairy tales like "Heeled" ("Cinderella"), "Ambiened" ("Sleeping Beauty") and "Twilight 5" ("Little Red Riding Hood").

"Tangled," which is in 3-D, gives ample opportunity to grimace at its blatant updating. Describing her situation (trapped for all her life in a tower), Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) explains herself like a Facebook page: "It's complicated."

Since the 1940s, Disney has toyed with the story of Rapunzel. "Tangled," directed by "Bolt" helmer Byron Howard and Nathan Greno (head of story on "Bolt"), finally arrives as the much ballyhooed 50th animated feature from Disney, and the last animated fairy tale currently planned by the studio.

The Brothers Grimm have been very good to Disney over the years and returning to one of their tales has very much the feel of "go with what you know." While "Tangled" is not in the league of Disney's best, it's still a sturdy, pleasant execution by the animation machine, retooled slightly for digital times.

The film is digitally animated (though with some hand-drawn aspects) and was one of the first projects led by Pixar chief John Lasseter once he became head of Disney animation. Thus "Tangled" is the first Pixar-ish Disney film, though it still contains all the familiar Disney hallmarks: song-and-dance numbers, amusing sidekicks and a frightfully cruel villain.

That villain is Mother Gothel (Broadway veteran Donna Murphy), who steals Rapunzel as a baby, locking her away in a remote tower where Rapunzel's magical hair preserves her youth.

Rapunzel, with big green eyes and 70-feet of blonde hair, is turning 18 and her birthday wish is to see the kingdom's annual floating lantern festival. Her only friend is Pascal, a loyal chameleon who doesn't speak, but manages to convey himself with eye-rolls and changes of color.

At first, Mother Gothel acts as though she might take Rapunzel out into the world, but she quickly reneges, insisting Rapunzel isn't ready yet. Darkly manipulative and passive-aggressive, she's a classic villain and one of Disney's best.

When Rapunzel is hurt after Mother Gothel tells her she won't ever leave the tower, she sighs: "Oh, great. Now, I'm the bad guy."

Instead of the prince of the Grimm fairy tale, we get Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), a rogue on the run who seeks a hiding place in the tower. Though resistant at first, Rapunzel takes to him and let's him lead her, for the first time, on to solid ground. Finally out of the tower, she's wonderfully bipolar: a montage switches between her utter glee at freedom, and dramatic swoons of shame in disobeying who she thinks is her mother. Continued...

Rapunzel and Flynn set out on a journey that will include a tavern full of theatrical thugs, chase scenes and moments of budding romance. The screenplay by Dan Fogelman ("Bolt," ''Cars") gets the tale out of the tower, bounding across cartoon woodlands.

Rapunzel takes it all in with the curiosity of a wide-eyed innocent. Gamely totting around her long trail of hair, she uses it inventively — like an Indiana Jones with a built-in whip.

Flynn is less memorable. He's uncertain of himself, but he's slowly pulled in by Rapunzel's goodness. It is, of course, a predictable arc, but it's managed without much feeling. Flynn is flip and rather obnoxious. When he tells Rapunzel, "Sorry blondie, I don't do back story," we think: She can do better.

His slacker nature works better when he, without much fanfare, tells Rapunzel that famous line, "Let down your hair" — the fairy tale equivalent of "Release the Kraken!"

Both Rapunzel and Flynn too much resemble Barbie and Ken, lacking both superficial and emotional individuality. Moore and Levi are flat. And we can't help but wonder how Rapunzel's lifetime locked-away didn't produce a disorder or two.

The animation, overseen by Glen Keane ("Beauty and the Beast," ''The Little Mermaid," ''Aladdin"), reaches its apogee in a row boat scene, reminiscent of "Kiss the Girl" from "Mermaid." Flynn and Rapunzel are surrounded by countless floating lanterns in the nighttime sky and reflected in the water.

The romance doesn't match the visual splendor, but no matter: The lushness is enough. The 3-D — which is fine by current standards but generally dims the images — is best here, immersing the audience among the glowing orbs.

For the songs, Disney turned to another stalwart, Alan Menken, who composed the scores to "Beauty and the Beast," ''The Little Mermaid" and a number of the less memorable Disney movies of the '00s. There's no hit here — "I See the Light," ''When Will My Life Begin?" — but the songs (with lyrics by Glenn Slater) get the job done, particularly Mother Gothel's big number, "Mother Knows Best."

For a story about shrugging off suffocating parental security, it's a good lesson: Sometimes, Mother doesn't know best.

"Tangled," a Walt Disney Studios release, is rated PG for brief mild violence. Running time: 104 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

In this film publicity image released by Disney, Rapunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore, right, and Flynn, voiced by Zachary Levi are shown in a scene from the animated feature, "Tangled." (AP Photo/Disney Enterprises, Inc.)

NEW YORK (AP) --- Walt Disney's modernizing of the Grimm fairy tale is thorough enough that even the original title, "Rapunzel," has been swapped for "Tangled." One can't help but wonder if in today's Hollywood, we might look forward to other contempo fairy tales like "Heeled" ("Cinderella"), "Ambiened" ("Sleeping Beauty") and "Twilight 5" ("Little Red Riding Hood").

"Tangled," which is in 3-D, gives ample opportunity to grimace at its blatant updating. Describing her situation (trapped for all her life in a tower), Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) explains herself like a Facebook page: "It's complicated."

Since the 1940s, Disney has toyed with the story of Rapunzel. "Tangled," directed by "Bolt" helmer Byron Howard and Nathan Greno (head of story on "Bolt"), finally arrives as the much ballyhooed 50th animated feature from Disney, and the last animated fairy tale currently planned by the studio.

The Brothers Grimm have been very good to Disney over the years and returning to one of their tales has very much the feel of "go with what you know." While "Tangled" is not in the league of Disney's best, it's still a sturdy, pleasant execution by the animation machine, retooled slightly for digital times.

The film is digitally animated (though with some hand-drawn aspects) and was one of the first projects led by Pixar chief John Lasseter once he became head of Disney animation. Thus "Tangled" is the first Pixar-ish Disney film, though it still contains all the familiar Disney hallmarks: song-and-dance numbers, amusing sidekicks and a frightfully cruel villain.

That villain is Mother Gothel (Broadway veteran Donna Murphy), who steals Rapunzel as a baby, locking her away in a remote tower where Rapunzel's magical hair preserves her youth.

Rapunzel, with big green eyes and 70-feet of blonde hair, is turning 18 and her birthday wish is to see the kingdom's annual floating lantern festival. Her only friend is Pascal, a loyal chameleon who doesn't speak, but manages to convey himself with eye-rolls and changes of color.

At first, Mother Gothel acts as though she might take Rapunzel out into the world, but she quickly reneges, insisting Rapunzel isn't ready yet. Darkly manipulative and passive-aggressive, she's a classic villain and one of Disney's best.

When Rapunzel is hurt after Mother Gothel tells her she won't ever leave the tower, she sighs: "Oh, great. Now, I'm the bad guy."

Instead of the prince of the Grimm fairy tale, we get Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), a rogue on the run who seeks a hiding place in the tower. Though resistant at first, Rapunzel takes to him and let's him lead her, for the first time, on to solid ground. Finally out of the tower, she's wonderfully bipolar: a montage switches between her utter glee at freedom, and dramatic swoons of shame in disobeying who she thinks is her mother.

Rapunzel and Flynn set out on a journey that will include a tavern full of theatrical thugs, chase scenes and moments of budding romance. The screenplay by Dan Fogelman ("Bolt," ''Cars") gets the tale out of the tower, bounding across cartoon woodlands.

Rapunzel takes it all in with the curiosity of a wide-eyed innocent. Gamely totting around her long trail of hair, she uses it inventively — like an Indiana Jones with a built-in whip.

Flynn is less memorable. He's uncertain of himself, but he's slowly pulled in by Rapunzel's goodness. It is, of course, a predictable arc, but it's managed without much feeling. Flynn is flip and rather obnoxious. When he tells Rapunzel, "Sorry blondie, I don't do back story," we think: She can do better.

His slacker nature works better when he, without much fanfare, tells Rapunzel that famous line, "Let down your hair" — the fairy tale equivalent of "Release the Kraken!"

Both Rapunzel and Flynn too much resemble Barbie and Ken, lacking both superficial and emotional individuality. Moore and Levi are flat. And we can't help but wonder how Rapunzel's lifetime locked-away didn't produce a disorder or two.

The animation, overseen by Glen Keane ("Beauty and the Beast," ''The Little Mermaid," ''Aladdin"), reaches its apogee in a row boat scene, reminiscent of "Kiss the Girl" from "Mermaid." Flynn and Rapunzel are surrounded by countless floating lanterns in the nighttime sky and reflected in the water.

The romance doesn't match the visual splendor, but no matter: The lushness is enough. The 3-D — which is fine by current standards but generally dims the images — is best here, immersing the audience among the glowing orbs.

For the songs, Disney turned to another stalwart, Alan Menken, who composed the scores to "Beauty and the Beast," ''The Little Mermaid" and a number of the less memorable Disney movies of the '00s. There's no hit here — "I See the Light," ''When Will My Life Begin?" — but the songs (with lyrics by Glenn Slater) get the job done, particularly Mother Gothel's big number, "Mother Knows Best."

For a story about shrugging off suffocating parental security, it's a good lesson: Sometimes, Mother doesn't know best.

"Tangled," a Walt Disney Studios release, is rated PG for brief mild violence. Running time: 104 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

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Movie review: 'The King's Speech' - Los Angeles Times

Posted: 26 Nov 2010 03:16 PM PST

It takes two, it always takes two.

Though romantic couples get the attention, some of the most memorable movie pairings, from Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger in "On the Waterfront" to Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as "Thelma & Louise," feature same gender actors playing off each other to breathtaking effect. So it is with Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech."


FOR THE RECORD:

"The King's Speech": A review of the film "The King's Speech" in the Nov. 26 Calendar section said that the coronation of Britain's King George VI occurred in 1936. The coronation was in 1937. —

Simultaneously commoner and king, teacher and pupil, iconoclast and underdog, the meeting of the unstoppable force that is Rush's speech therapist and the immovable object that is Firth's future English king is as good as one-on-one acting gets. Both actors completely inhabit their absorbing roles, relishing the opportunity their exchanges provide and adding unlooked-for layers to a complicated human relationship.

Because this British film has the contours of an Oscar-friendly Hollywood story (not for nothing is the Weinstein Co. involved), "The King's Speech" tends to sound more standard than it plays. In fact, several factors, aside from that acting, keep it involving and well above the norm.

A key aspect is that "The King's Speech" is based on the true story of the relationship between Lionel Logue, an Australian speech therapist, and Albert, the Duke of York, who was forced to confront his debilitating stammer in the years leading up to his 1936 coronation as King George VI.

Peeks behind the velvet curtain at scenes of royal travail can be involving, witness 1994's "The Madness of King George," and this story is exceptionally moving as well. In fact, when screenwriter David Seidler, a boyhood stutterer, approached the Queen Mother, the king's widow, decades after the fact about a possible film, she wrote back "Please, not during my lifetime. The memory of these events is still too painful."

Seidler is a veteran screenwriter whose credits include "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" and three Writers Guild nominations for television features. His script is especially good at conveying the push-pull between royal stutterer and plebian therapist, and his words are given extra spirit by fine acting in the other roles.

Playing the matronly but determined Elizabeth, Duchess of York, is Helena Bonham Carter, in tart Merchant-Ivory form and only one of several top British actors that fill out the cast. Especially good are Michael Gambon as Albert's father, George V, Derek Jacobi as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jennifer Ehle as Logue's wife, Myrtle, and in a surprise but very successful bit of casting, Australian Guy Pearce brings surprising life to Albert's abdicating brother, Edward VIII.

Best known in this country for the multi-Emmy winning " John Adams" miniseries, director Tom Hooper is a proven storyteller, expert at embracing popular dramatic material without forcing the emotional content. Though little seen over here, features like "The Damned United" and " Longford" underscore the way Hooper brings intelligence, variety and pace to traditional stories.

Every drama needs a villain, and we catch a glimpse of this film's antagonist early on: it's an enormous microphone, looking as sinister as a serial killer. It's set up at Wembley Stadium at 1925 so Albert, known as Bertie to his friends, can give a speech to be broadcast to the nation and the world.

As played by Firth in top hat and agony, the Duke of York looks like a man headed to his own execution, or at the very least a considerable public humiliation. As the speech heads toward inevitable disaster, Firth beautifully conveys the agony his stutter causes him, as well as his conviction that he is not living up to his royal obligations by not being able to master it.

So as the years roll by the haunted and distraught duke goes off to a series of therapists, a parade of cranks, quacks and well-meaning incompetents who are so disturbing to his personal dignity that he makes his wife swear that she will take him to no more.

The duchess, however, is made of sterner stuff, and she has one more therapist to try. That would be Rush's Logue, an eccentric, iconoclastic Australian who so insists on having things his own way — "my game, my rules" — that he makes the unbending duke come down to his humble Harley Street office for his appointments.

The keenest pleasure of "The King's Speech" is watching the developing relationship between two men who initially have a very convincing distaste for each other. When the duke says "you're peculiar," Logue says, "I take that as a compliment." When Logue admits his methods (which involve comically bizarre physical exercise and deft psychological probing) are unorthodox and controversial, the duke allows that those are his least favorite words. When Logue insists on calling him Bertie, the hot-tempered duke wants to call the whole thing off.

What keeps this mismatched couple together is, frankly, the press of world events. When his brother abdicates for "the woman I love," the duke unexpectedly becomes king, and when World War II begins, his need to effectively address and rally the nation becomes paramount.

The gift of "The King's Speech" is that it allows us to look on as a pair of masterful actors re-create a monumental test of wills between an imperturbable layman and a king who insists with royal certitude, "I stammer. No one can fix it." Their dilemma never feels anything less than real, and when they reach the end of their journey together, we share more fully in their emotions and accomplishments than we would have thought possible.

kenneth.turan@latimes.com


'The King's Speech'

MPAA rating: R, for some language

Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes

Playing Arclight, Hollywood, Landmark West Los Angeles

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