Thoughts on "The Princess and the Frog", "Tangled", and the future of Disney Feature Animation.
After letting it sink in for a few weeks, I went and saw Disneyʼs The Princess and the Frog for the second time. This time I tried my darnedest to watch with less critical eyes. After all, it is in 2D. After 5 years, I think I join many Disney fans in saying thank you (itʼs about time).
Now I have to admit, even after the second viewing, Disneyʼs The Princess and the Frog isnʼt my favorite movie of all time, it seemed a bit formulated to me (African American + Princess + a Prince with a personality + songs by Randy Newman = demographics and ratings–and was it just me or was Tiana a black version of Belle?), but Iʼll take it. The animation looked great and I thought the talent was excellent particularly Anika Noni Rose and Keith David–they sound great. And despite my petty thoughts on the plot, Iʼve read reviews, reviews and more reviews that rave about the plot, the characters and the whole experience. Well, I donʼt think weʼre quite there yet, but I guess I wonʼt complain too much.
I hope Disney also wonʼt complain too much. A $25 million opening weekend may not have been a complete blow out, but it wasnʼt a crash either and I suspect so many positive reviews (itʼs rated 84% on Rotten Tomatoes) will give Disney plenty of continuing revenue, proving 2D animation still has its place in the world. I just wish this news would have reached them before they decided these beautiful concept drawings of Rapunzel, or should I say Tangled as it is now called, should be taken to the computer instead of the drawing board.
However, the filmʼs previous director, Glen Keane, has said although Rapunzel/Tangled will be in 3D, it is being designed to feel more like a traditional hand-drawn Disney Classic. Animators for this film will use a non-photorealistic rendering technique which will make the surface look like it is painted but still contain depth and dimensions. Well, I guess weʼll see. I can only hope the reason the filmʼs release date continues to be delayed is because they are making marvelous changes. Iʼll wish a star tonight that that is the case. At least theyʼve bagged the idea of intermingling it with the modern world back when it was entitled Rapunzel Unbraided. Whew, that would have been a catastrophe.
Overall, my greatest desire is that Disney will continue to take steps in the right direction. Hopefully we can put the days of The Wild, Chicken Little, Home on the Range, Brother Bear and Treasure Planet behind us. As Princess Tiana said, “Weʼre Almost There!”