Commentary

Just An Online Minute... Disney Tangled In Unfinished Business With Tron:Legacy

Disney Sneak Peek: Tron:Legacy And Tangled, The French Institute, New York
October 4, 2010

Yesterday afternoon I sat in a half-filled movie theatre, watched a 30 second clip of "Secretariat," saw an exclusive 3D trailer for "Tron: Legacy," watched 21 minutes of straight-from-the-editing-room "Tron: Legacy" nerditry, and then experienced the multiple layers of editing and animation of the full-length, unfinished-to-the-sketch-level, Disney feature "Tangled."  This is my job.

This is the last time I am going to mention Advertising Week - but nothing could have been a better transition AWAY from running all over town a la last week, than a cozy, rainy afternoon in my jeans, a hoodie, and sneaks.  I was looking forward to a popcorn dinner, sinking low in my faux velvet seat, and zoning out just enough.

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When I arrived at The French Institute's Florence Gould Hall, I was greeted by absolute darkness, with revolving rope lights of dark blue and turquoise lighting the stairs to the lower level.  At the lower level I discovered ropes of hair, ivy leaves, and wanted posters lining the path to the refreshment area.  It was nearly 4 p.m., which is a fine time to start drinking, but because this was a Disney event I was expecting Kool-Aid and Tang.  Nope!  Adult Kool-Aid (vino!) was available. 

My decoration sleuth skills surmised that "Tangled" had something to do with hair, thievery, the woods, and big wooden stools.  Interest: piqued.  Also, the little girl in me was excited to see my first Disney movie in a theatre since "Beauty And The Beast."  Side note: My high school chorus sang a montage of songs from that movie and I loved it.

Where was I?  Oh, I met writer and "gun for hire" at Cinamatical, Jenni Miller.  She was sipping an adult Kool-Aid with Julide Tanriverdi, who writes for the German weekly Gala, which, she said "is like People for Germany.  Very popular!"  I also taught Julide what "bamboozled" meant as in "Matt Van Hoven said I bamboozled him into being my guest by telling him it was a 'Tron' preview, when really it's for 'Tangled.'"

I also met Don Thomas, entertainment editor at NY Beacon News, and Marie Moore, syndicated columnist at The Filmstrip.  As I settled into my theatre seat, stomach growling over the peanuts, my ears picked up a French conversation as well as other languages I couldn't pin down.  Foreign press interest, as they say.

As I took a few shots of the audience, I saw everyone had goofy glasses.  What the hell, man?  How did I get left out?  I darted back outside and nabbed a pair just in time for the 3D trailer for "Tron: Legacy."  If it's at all possible to make 3D look like 2D, "Tron: Legacy" did it.  Maybe it was the lighting, maybe it was the theatre itself, maybe it was some other excuse, but the 3D was underwhelming.  It reminded me of those old school posters where you could see each layer.  When the foreground was in focus, making the background appear multidimensional, the foreground faces actually lost dimension. 

Further laming out the 3D experience was the impressiveness of the 2D 21 minutes of the "not the final edit!" version.  I'm a nerd, but my very basic computer programming nerd really wasn't unleashed until I was about 22.  For those of you who have been fiddling with the home computer since the first King's Quest and green screens: you will love this movie.  For those of you who have no idea what any of that is, but love tech-style graphics, Daft Punk, shiny things, second skin-body suits, Ducati bikes, and Jeff Bridges: you will love this movie.   I actually groaned with the sadness of a movie unfinished when the 21 minutes completed.  I have a feeling when this movie hits IMAX I'll be sitting in the midst of a lot of people who are suddenly, inexplicably, very hungry for pizza and Snickers.

Moving on to "Tangled."  The directors asked the audience to hold off on reviews due to the raw nature of the version we saw, but I can't resist.  Obviously my average audience member review will not include "that scene seemed unfinished" because some scenes literally weren't.  In fact, the most impressive part (which I gushed to my dude when I got home) was the opportunity to see the layers of animation. 

I got to see the basic sketched animation, the very first pass of computer animation (where all hairdos are smooth undetailed bobs and the characters are all wearing body suits), incomplete animation where the scene is a little jerky, and unlit scenes.  Yes, animated films need lighting.   It was incredible to see and upped my respect even more for the creative talent behind what some may call "just cartoons."

Oh right, and the story of "Tangled" is a reinterpretation of Rapunzel.  "It's not cynical," explained one of the directors.  Like all Disney stories, the theme is oppressed female youth, which leads to rebellion, which leads to consequences, which leads to love, which leads to singing, which leads to family, marriage, and happiness, wrapped up with a cute little sidekick (this time a cute little chameleon), and adversaries turned to partners in crime. 

I loved every minute of it except for the part where Rapunzel says about her shiny, glowing blond hair "When it's cut, it turns brown and loses its power."

On behalf of all my varying lengths of brunette sisters out there I say, "Bite me, Rapunzel."

Photos from this event are up on Flickr!

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