Thursday, December 02, 2010


About the story? Yeah, it ain't coming. Or at least, not yet. Rather, I'm going to play movie critic.

I've just watched Rapunzel: A Tangled Tale recently, and I have to say it was absolutely awesome. Disney hit it really well this time round with their character creation and storyline development (though I still feel they should explore the "bad end" sometimes), the CG was awesome, the details to the background was amazing, their characters were engaging... All very well and good.

Then I read up on people's opinions of Rapunzel. And then I remember why not that many people can really appreciate this work of art.

See, it kind of doesn't help that this is Disney's 50th animated film production. The fact that they remind you of this at the beginning of the film actually serves this movie injustice. How many people must have gone into the theaters as avid Disney watchers, being reminded that there has not been a film since the golden age of Disney that was truly memorable? Did you remember Bolt? How about Princess and the Frog? Or heaven forbid, Chicken Little? And so, even at the onset of the film, there is this reminder of a standard to pin this movie to. "If it's not going to be another Beauty and the Beast, it's not going to be worth it". Can you imagine setting that sort of mentality among your viewers right from the start of the movie? It's practically suicidal!

Rapunzel, however, does deliver to such high standards; evoking lost feelings from prince-princess movies from years past while still showing the modern trend of Disney. Personally, I've felt that Disney's feminine characters have always been the portrayal of women stepping forward (at least past the Snow White/Sleeping Beauty era), and in Rapunzel, you can feel the culmination of all the embodiment of being the modern day girl, living in between being a mother's daughter and being your own person. The antihero, while more linear than Rapunzel, is still engaging thanks in part to his witty nature, and the fact that he appeals to the mature side of the audience who has had to deal with the modern girl growing up before their eyes, whether it's their daughter, their girlfriend, or heck even themselves!

However, enough about polishing Rapunzel. What I'm here to actually talk about is comparison.

Various movie critics have come out, using the words "Rapunzel" and "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast" all in the same sentence, and they are ALWAYS interconnected. Many of them, while praising Rapunzel's efforts to relive the Golden Age of Disney, stop short of recognizing it as a hallmark film, rather preferring to nick off an inch here and a foot there to justify saying "it's not musically as engaging as Beauty and the Beast", or "it wasn't as enchanting as The Little Mermaid". This literally flips me out. It's like saying Roger Federer is better than Lebron James.

Newsflash: They are totally different. From the era these films were made, to the technology involved in making these films and even the creative processes, things have changed.

While the appeal of a musical is certainly not to be underestimated, and this is evidenced by some powerful singing in Rapunzel no less, Disney is smart enough to realize that nowadays, that just isn't going to cut it. Movies have to have EVERYTHING for the people, whether it's laughs, actions, drama, suspense, even horror to some extent. And when you lack one element, you get called out for being "linear" and "trite, glib, boring".

Furthermore, the advancement of audio playback system means that the general people are actually desensitized to musicals; constant exposure to music means that there is generally less appreciation for music in general (though it does also mean that a successful musical will receive rave reviews). By diversifying the elements in the movie, there is more to it than just bursting into song; there is a story, and character development which keeps you engaged for more and more.

This is completely different than when Disney was at the forefront of the animation films industry; it was free to push its stories in a linear direction much like Beauty and the Beast as well as The Little Mermaid. Back then, they could get away with some story and more orchestra scores and songs. Really, now that you think of it, were there that many memorable lines ANY of those characters ever had outside of a song? But right now, I can tell you that the punchlines and witty one liners as well as those touching moments in Rapunzel will last just as long as its wonderful songs will.

Times have changed. Deal with it!

This whole comparison to the past just reminds me of why we Malaysians will never have another great multi-talented playwright/artist like P.Ramlee. We are forever stuck in the shadow of his loss that we do not nurture the light that he has left behind for us. Can you imagine how much of a pain it is for aspiring creative writers in Malaysia to have to be constantly reminded that "yeah your work is good, but there was this guy back when...."?

Drop the past, people. Respecting a legacy is one thing, but living in its shadow is another.


Blogger m3lange said...

this blog's alive!!

7:01 AM  

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