After my initial, rather snarky post on my impressions of the upcoming movie 'Tangled', I saw several other blogs, videos and articles on the same topic. The opinions were fierce on both sides: Those who were underwhelmed by what they saw, and the ones who felt the former were acerbic cynics raining on a perfectly fine-looking flick's parade.
I actually don't like to be some big bad wolf, putting down the hard work of skilled 3D artists, so I figured an honest opinion in the proper context is wiser than a few snarky remarks in a vacuum.
If I did NOT love Disney and its contribution to animation, I wouldn't be bothered enough to voice criticism about their recent output.
Animation is an important and delightful form of art. I have been fascinated by it since early childhood. I have studied it out of sheer interest. I have a beloved collection of films including Paul Grimault, Soyuzmultfilms, Ivanov Vano, Norsteyn, Miyazaki, Kon... Pixar and Disney films are on the shelf with them.
It has bothered me that, for the past few years, I have no longer been drawn to the Disney flicks (I don't count Pixar as Disney: I did love Finding Nemo, WALL-E and UP, each for reasons I won't get into here).
I was SADDENED that after all the contrived, PC issues and blatant business-driven changes to 'The Princess and the Frog', I had to make myself want to see it. It's not at all how I wanted to feel about the 'revival' of Disney's 2D animation.
It had lots of good potential. The art no doubt was lovely. But it struck me as artificial, not magical; repetitive, not innovative. A familiar recipe: Broadway tunes, a slightly darker-coloured Belle clone, another 'necessary' ubiquitous, Owen Wilson-type love interest that the girl is bound to marry (no matter how utterly mismatched), a Jafar/Scar-type villain.
All I could think was, this is set in the roaring 20's, it's in New Orleans' jazz era, it has VOODOO in it... how can it NOT feel like a mind blowing, refreshing, trippy masterpiece!? The whole thing ought to feel like the 'drunk Dumbo scene' on banned absinthe and swamp gasses, an intoxicating juxtaposition of art-deco sophistication and quietly mysterious bayous...
Basically, I was extremely disappointed in Princess/Frog because I had high expectations. I had this nagging feeling that the idea and premise had ME way more inspired than the writers. This may be too arrogant of me, but we're talking about DISNEY, arguably America's most heavily funded, premier, default animation studio (unless I'm wrong). Mea culpa, I DO expect more of them.
I'm starting to have the same, nagging feeling about 'Tangled'. I'm seeing a pattern: Business-driven, contrived changes (namely the ridiculous name-change to attract male viewership; obviously, the suits at Disney have a low opinion of young boys' intelligence, in spite of desperately pandering to them), the 'necessary' Owen Wilson schmoozing bad boy, a Barbie/Bratz-doll clone... I'm waiting for this one to come out on DVD. My expectations are now lower.
I think I have OUTGROWN Disney movies. I loathe saying this, because I am a firm believer of animation as a great art form for all. But Disney movies are starting to smell more like flashy selling tools for tickets, DVD's, games, toys and plastic tiaras than inspired and passionate stories and works of art.
I finish with the words of Sylvain Chomet, of Les Triplettes de Belleville fame:
Walt Disney invented everything, he absorbed all these guys who came from the eastern countries who brought their rich cultures with them. He found this brilliant way of making money out of a new artform.
[...] The artists have no say any more. The suits decide everything now, and there are so many of them. It is like the dinosaurs, it has got too big and the brain is too small.