Tangled (2010)

Rapunzel is based on another medieval legend. It is about a girl shut away in a tower and taken away from her parents at a younger age. They say Disney spent huge amount of money in order to release this animation. When I first heard the title, I thought it will be yet another Disney prince and princess story with songs. Somehow reluctantly, I started watching and to my surprise I enjoyed it much. In the beginning it reminded me of Madeleine McCann who went missing in 2007.

I love bright and beautifully contrasting colours in both films and animations. In Tangled, I enjoyed bright and illuminating lanterns released into the sky every year on Rapunzel’s birthday. They were lovely. Rapunzel’s shining very very long hairs, glowing rapunzel flower, fresh-looking trees, grass, well-designed tower, castle were all pretty, colourful, and superb. The plot is well-thought and timely planned.

Rapunzel, for a girl kept in the tower all her life and who has never seen another human – except Gothel , who she believes is her mother – yet alone a man, is strong enough to stand up for herself with frying pan. Flynn Rider, who later admits that his real name is Eugene, is another self-satisfied theft like Aladdin. He accidentally finds Rapunzel’s tower in the woods. Later, he evolves into a loving and protective person, much like Aladdin.

As promised, Rapunzel returns satchel with princess’ tiara to Eugene after he takes her to see lanterns. But he does not give up on her when his mission is accomplished. Thugs save him from hanging and he goes back to Rapunzel’s tower. He gets stabbed by Gothel. After her hairs are cut and lose healing power, Rapunzel demonstrates ability to heal with her tears and brings Eugene back to life (similar to Beauty and Beast).

The way, Rapunzel puts all pieces of puzzle together and realizes that she is long-lost sun princess, is perfectly filmed and smartly delivered to audience. Nevertheless, I have to say that there were certain parts, which I did not like. The reason for dislike is probably me, being beyond the age target group of animation.

Firstly, I did not like Maximum the Horse. He sniffs and chases like a dog. In my opinion, it is a weird character. Rapunzel’s chameleon Pascal is nimble and sly, but amiable creature. This company, altogether, reminds me of Mulan (1998), another Disney animation: the lucky cricket Cri-kee is chameleon Pascal, horse Khan is Maximus  and Mulan is Rapunzel. People, who worked on both products, are completely different, but stories have similarities. It is similarities with Aladdin and Mulan that I did not like beside than Maximus.

Tangled definitely is a good watch, not only for younger, but also for older generation. It is one of those funny musical Disney animations you can watch with whole family.

Reviewer’s rating: 7.0 out of 10

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The Lovely Bones (2009)

If you want to watch this film you have to be morally ready. It is not a week-end or evening watch. It is sad, devastating and genuinely touching film. All actors, especially main character Saoirse Ronan, are hilarious in their roles. The film is based on Alice Seabold’s same name novel.

The story is of a teenage girl who is raped and murdered by her 36-year-old neighbor George. He coaxes her into the den in the cornfield which he builds earlier for just one purpose: to get Susie. Susie’s family become worried when she does not return from school. They never see her again.

Susie watches her killer and her family from above. In afterlife she sees that George killed many other young girls. Her family struggle to get on with their lives. Her parents break up, her mother leaves house, her father is beaten unconscious, and George targets Susie’s sister Lindsey as a next victim.

Later, Lindsey breaks into George’s house and finds evidence of his involvement in Susie’s disappearance and supposedly death, though she does not find or know about the safe in the basement where Susie’s body lays.

He returns home, and notices Lindsey who barely escapes. George dumps safe into the sinkhole and flees. He dies from falling over a cliff. Film ends with Susie’s words: “My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was 14 years old when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. I was here for a moment and then I was gone. I wish you all a long and happy life.”

In my opinion, it is not a family watch, though film ends positively.  It is certainly one of a kind, enormously real and affects viewer deep in the heart.

Reviewer’s rating: 8.0 out of 10

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Everybody knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood. I grew up with her story and many other folktales and legends. But it never occurred to me that the story could actually be real. There is no smoke without a fire. Every legend has a hidden, true, basis story. My child mind could not think of the story behind the Red-hood tale. When I grew up, as any adult I did not return to childhood tales.

They say the legend is as old as 700 years. The story involves forest, wolf, little girl, grandma who lives on the other side of forest and the village. When it comes to the real story behind the story, my damaged mind and 21st-century imagination goes as far as into another pedophile story: France, medieval ages, small provincial village. Man who likes children, but he is a respected man in the village and nobody knows about his clandestine passion. He hunts little girl, kills her grandmother and just when he gets her, some people come over, kill him and save her.

I am glad I watched ‘Red riding hood’. It has produced food for my imagination. Though Amanda Seyfried is a big girl and all intersecting love stories of both older and younger generations are screenwriter’s figment of imagination, still story could have had similarity with the “real” medieval tale.

The beginning of film was not enough gripping for me, though I kept watching and enjoyed the twist of story and the way it grew into mystery thriller. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is in love with woodcutter Peter who she grew up with. But her parents arrange for her to marry wealthy blacksmith Henry. Peter and Valerie plan to runaway from the village. Soon after, they find out, that Valerie’s sister Lucy was killed by wolf. For many years villagers offered monthly animal sacrifice to wolf and it did not attack people.

Valerie’s mother convinces Peter to break up with Valerie in order to provide her with better and wealthier life. Angry villagers, Valerie’s father, her fiancee, future father-in-law and Peter go to the woods to hunt for wolf. Henry’s father gets killed and villagers manage to kill and behead a wolf, thinking it is the same creature they were hunting for.

During mourning for Henry’s father, Valerie discovers that her mother and Henry’s father had an affair. Lucy was actually Henry’s sister, therefore Valerie’s mother could not allow their marriage to happen whereas Lucy was desperately in love with Henry.

Back in the village, villagers decide to celebrate wolf’s death though Father Solomon, who is invited to the village to hunt the wolf, claims, that what they killed is an ordinary wolf. He killed once his wife who was a werewolf. Upon death, she changed back to her human form. He demonstrates her hand to the villagers. During the celebrations real wolf arrives, kills a couple of people and bites one of the guards. Later this guard is killed by Father Solomon who also claims, because of blood moon the guard will turn into another werewolf. Valerie and her friend Roxanne are caught by wolf. To her surprise, she understands what wolf growls while Roxanne does not.

Father Solomon arrests Roxanne’s brother. In order to save him Roxanne tells Father Solomon about werewolf and Valerie’s interaction. He captures Valerie and uses her as a bait to catch the wolf. United, Henry and Peter rescue her from capture. Peter is caught after setting the tower on fire and placed inside the brazen bull. Wolf appears when Father Solomon’s people are about to shoot Valerie and Henry. Valerie and Henry head for church. Father Solomon attacks wolf with sword and wolf bites his hand off. Wolf cannot enter the church and burns its right paw. It promises Valerie to leave villagers alone, if she comes with him. People shield her from the wolf until sun rises and wolf runs away. Father Solomon is executed by the brother of the guard whom he killed before.

Later, Valerie has a dream. It must be only part closely matching medieval folktale: Red hood asks her grandmother why her ears and teeth are so big. After this dream, she believes, that her grandmother is werewolf. Valerie decides to visit her grandmother and stops by the church to pick up Father Solomon’s bitten off silver-nailed hand. In the woods, she meets Peter who is wearing glove and she slashes him with knife, thinking Peter is werewolf  and runs off. In her grandmother’s house, situation takes unexpected route: werewolf is the person she least expected.

Amanda Seyfried played her role perfectly well. She was convincing and magnetic. The colours in the film were magnificent. Valerie’s red lips, red cloak, white snow all contrasted prettily and made film not only interesting to watch, but also beautiful. I cannot say the same about two men who were in love with her. For me, Peter was not convincing. The ending reminded me of Twilight (not surprisingly the movie was directed by Twilight’s director Catherine Hardwicke) and I have to admit – I did not like the ending. In my opinion, the ending would be more interesting if Valerie turned into werewolf.

Overall, the film is a nice evening watch. It is good for imagination and for breaking away from the modern world.

Reviewer’s rating: 6.5 out of 10

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