It's hard to underestimate the value of the departure of Disney's divisive former CEO, Michael Eisner, in 2005 and Disney's acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios in 2006, the quality and success of animated feature films from the Mouse House have steadily improved since that point, from Meet The Robinsons and Bolt to The Princess and the Frog and now Tangled which stands shoulder to shoulder with the best animated feature films Disney has ever produced.

A long time coming, the intention to produce a Rapunzel story has been kicking around Disney since the 1940s and was originally considered along side Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. The problem with the Rapunzel story, however, is that it's about a girl sitting in a tower waiting to be rescued - not a story conducive to a riveting movie for kids. In this age of grrrl power, however, Rapunzel has been given a new lease on life, getting her out of her lofty prison and dealing with the hard realities of freedom and independence. It's a formula that works exceedingly well.

It's fitting that a story that has been on the drawing board for so long was chosen as Disney's 50th animated motion picture and Pixar giant, John Lasseter, was chosen to executive produce this milestone release. Lasseter's control has ensured that Tangled has captured the beauty of classic Disney story-telling and cel animation incumbent with a series of great, well-formed characters to boot. The colours are rendered in beautiful soft pastels and the animation is exquisite - the fluidity of pixeline fabric and hair has never been better. It's a great credit to the story-writers that the personal crisis which inevitably befalls our two heroes in the last reel refreshingly comes about because one of the pair does something noble rather than something stupid as is usually the case these days.

All the characters are perfectly rounded by a combination of great performances and endearing animation, even the cutesy animal sidekicks are great. The depth of shots employed means the 3D technology is used very effectively without being at all gimmicky; it's one of the best 3D films yet. And importantly, the music doesn't grate.

In the grand Pixar tradition, the film appeals to adults and kids alike, particularly to young aspiring princesses, and by the end of the film there's not a dry eye in the house (well, from the adults, anyway) such is the considerable emotional investment garnered by the unfolding story.

A new pinnacle in the Disney cartoon canon, Tangled is a must-see.
Stuart Jamieson

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