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'Tangled' (魔髮奇緣)

Walt Disney's modernizing of the Grimm fairy tale is thorough enough that even the original title, “Rapunzel,” has been swapped for “Tangled.” One can't help but wonder if in today's Hollywood, we might look forward to other contemporary fairy tales like “Heeled” (“Cinderella” [仙履奇緣]), “Ambiened” (“Sleeping Beauty” [睡美人]) and “Twilight 5” (“Little Red Riding Hood” [小紅帽]).

“Tangled,” which is in 3D, gives ample opportunity to grimace at its blatant updating. Describing her situation (trapped for all her life in a tower), Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) explains herself like a Facebook page: “It's complicated.”

Since the 1940s, Disney has toyed with the story of Rapunzel. “Tangled,” directed by “Bolt” (雷霆戰狗) helmer Byron Howard and Nathan Greno (head of story on “Bolt”), finally arrives as the much ballyhooed 50th animated feature from Disney, and the last animated fairy tale currently planned by the studio.

The Brothers Grimm have been very good to Disney over the years and returning to one of their tales has very much the feel of “go with what you know.” While “Tangled” is not in the league of Disney's best, it's still a sturdy, pleasant execution by the animation machine, retooled slightly for digital times.

The film is digitally animated (though with some hand-drawn aspects) and was one of the first projects led by Pixar chief John Lasseter since becoming head of Disney animation. Thus “Tangled” is the first Pixar-ish Disney film, though it still contains all the familiar Disney hallmarks: song-and-dance numbers, amusing sidekicks and a frightfully cruel villain.

That villain is Mother Gothel (Broadway veteran Donna Murphy), who steals Rapunzel as a baby, locking her away in a remote tower where Rapunzel's magical hair preserves her youth.

Rapunzel, with big green eyes and 70 feet (21 meters) of blonde hair, is turning 18 and her birthday wish is to see the kingdom's annual floating lantern festival. Her only friend is Pascal, a loyal chameleon who doesn't speak, but manages to convey himself with eye-rolls and changes of color.

At first, Mother Gothel acts as though she might take Rapunzel out into the world, but she quickly reneges, insisting Rapunzel isn't ready yet. Darkly manipulative and passive-aggressive, she's a classic villain and one of Disney's best.

When Rapunzel is hurt after Mother Gothel tells her she won't ever leave the tower, she sighs: “Oh, great. Now, I'm the bad guy.”

Instead of the prince of the Grimm fairy tale, we get Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), a rogue on the run who seeks a hiding place in the tower. Though resistant at first, Rapunzel takes to him and let's him lead her, for the first time, on to solid ground. Finally out of the tower, she's wonderfully bipolar: a montage switches between her utter glee at freedom and dramatic swoons of shame in disobeying who she thinks is her mother.

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 'Tangled' (魔髮奇緣) 
Courtesy of Disney

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