Film Review: Tangled

03/08/2010

The latest effort from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Tangled is a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale. Due to be released later this year in the US, the film is not yet complete.

Stolen as a baby from the king and queen, Rapunzel spends her whole life in a tower. Believing her ‘mother’ has her best interests at heart, Rapunzel nevertheless still longs to see the world outside. A chance encounter brings the dream closer…

In the completed scenes, the animation is excellent. The attention to detail is particularly evident in Rapunzel’s hair; her long locks appear incredibly realistic. The musical numbers are solid, although perhaps not as instantly catchy as some of Disney’s previous animated musicals. As the film is unfinished, it is perhaps too early to judge this.

Following on from The Princess and the Frog, Disney have chosen once again to plunder the fairy tale genre. This is by no means a bad thing – many of the best Disney animated films have been based on fairy tales. There is one gripe with Tangled, however. It is a little too reminiscent of other animated features. There is a particular scene that harks back to Beauty and the Beast, and Rapunzel’s initial upbringing is remarkably similar to the She-Ra: Princess of Power origins film The Secret of the Sword.

Nevertheless, the film is filled with enough humour, action and romance to please a wide audience. Added to this are the likeable characters. Voiced by Mandy Moore, Rapunzel is sweet-natured, but like many recent Disney Princesses, she shows some spirit. Both children and adults will be amused by the two animal sidekicks that feature in Tangled.

With Tangled, it looks like Disney have another hit on their hands. I look forward to seeing the finished film when it is released.

Tangled was viewed at a test screening. Although the full film was shown, it was not completed and is subject to change.

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Film Review: The A-Team

01/08/2010

The A-Team is an action blockbuster that entertains, for the most part. If you are expecting a movie that engages your brain, or one that will rival your fond memories of the television show, disappointment will surely ensue.

An elite army team are accused of a crime they did not commit. In order to clear their names, the four men must find the real perpetrators of the crime, whilst evading the unit sent to bring them back to jail…

Based on the popular television show of the 1980s, the film provides the well-known characters with an origin story of how the team first came together. It is updated to the modern day, with the Iraq conflict as a backdrop to unfolding events. The story is unapologetic in its straight-forwardness – do not expect character development or any attempt at emotion to get in the way of the big action set-pieces.

Perhaps the biggest drawback of The A-Team is the decision to include a love interest for the character Face. Charissa, played by Jessica Biel, is in charge of the unit sent to recapture the A-Team. She is also a former girlfriend of Face, played by Bradley Cooper. Given the testosterone-fueled nature of the film and the television show, her inclusion rings hollow. In an attempt, it seems, to attract a female audience, the filmmakers try to generate interest in this angle of the narrative. There is, however, a lack of authenticity to this love story; the film would have benefited to omit this element.

Performances are adequate in The A-Team. Cooper is charming, and Sharlto Copley does well as Murdock. Whilst the four display a sense of camaraderie, this does not match excitement generated by the original A-Team. This is particularly pertinent when both Liam Neeson (Hannibal) and Quinton Jackson (B.A. Baracus) voice the famous catchphrases. In this way, the film screams ‘inferior imitation’ rather than ‘loving homage’.

The action sequences are frequent, outlandish and entertaining. So much so that director Joe Carnahan should have dispensed with the half-baked attempts to add depth (the identity crisis of B.A., for example), and aimed squarely at those who like their plots simple and their explosions big. On the upside, children of the 1980s will want to revisit the series to be reminded of how it should be done.