Movie Reviews

★★★★☆

By Alanna Smith, Goings On Editor

A lush and vivid fusion of traditional Disney animation and 3-D technology, Tangled is the ideal film to revive traditional Disney with an eye-popping modern twist.

Rapunzel is a quirky klutz with magical hair who has been cooped up in a tower by her kidnapper/surrogate mother. When a dashing thief named Flynn Ryder stumbles across her tower, she enlists him as a reluctant guide and embarks on a quest to see the floating lights that appear in the sky every year on her birthday.

As the two travel the land, encountering soldiers and soft-hearted ruffians, daring chases and sword-wielding horses, they find themselves drawn closer together in their life-changing adventure.

Though it might be a while before audiences warm up to 3-D Disney princess movies, Tangled certainly seems like a step in the right direction; it uses technology not as a gimmick but for aesthetic purposes. The floating lantern scene alone is easily worth the extra money for a 3-D ticket. Instead of trying to wow the audience with swords in their faces, Tangled creates a completely immersive viewing experience.

The artistic direction of the movie was largely informed by Jean-Honoré Fragonard's Rococo painting, "The Swing," as evidenced in the beautiful pastel pinks and muted blue greens of Tangled's dazzling landscapes. The softness of the color brings a refreshing tenderness to the 3-D animation.

The voice acting is superb. Zachary Levi nails it as the dashing and rogue Flynn Ryder, alternating fluidly between studly charm and surprising sensitivity. Mandy Moore lends her voice to Rapunzel in joyful tunes and lilting ballads. Her voice for the awkward teen is so dead-on that sometimes it's hard to separate the actress from the character.

Even though composer Alan Menken (Aladdin) worked on the soundtrack, the music isn't quite up to the level of classic Disney. Mother Gothel's villainess song, "Mother Knows Best" is accompanied by a stellar visual sequence and the reprise is especially chilling, but other songs, like Rapunzel's "When Will My Life Begin" sound too much like uninspired pop music.

Reminiscent of last year's The Princess and the Frog, the songs are decent but not classics. The animation sequences that accompany each song far outshine the lackluster compositions, making up for any disappointment.

While Tangled is no instant classic, the visuals are enough to convince even the most stubborn holdouts that 3-D Disney is an invigorating new frontier.

★★★★☆

By Shea Frazier, Arts & Entertainment Asst. Editor

In a film where half of the plotline concerns an extended camping trip, a bit of magic is necessary to keep things interesting. Fortunately, Harry Potter has magic to spare. Told with a beautifully cinematic eye and a keen sense of mood and pacing, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One is a brilliant beginning to the wizarding world's final dark chapter.

Imagine a world where the Ministry of Magic — the government — has fallen, where Voldemort's power reigns and his followers, death eaters and snatchers alike, hunt freely. That is the world in which Harry, Hermione and Ron are forced to survive after an attack on the Burrow spurs them to flee into the wilderness in search of safety and Voldemort's horcruxes, the keys to the antagonist's soul and defeat.

Any non-Harry Potter enthusiasts are most likely confused just by that summary, but if it seems bad, it's nothing compared to the movie. Though it's truly a sleek, sophisticated showing, the film is essentially a prelude; this means that there is a great deal of plot laid out to pave the way for Part Two, scheduled for release in July, and the information is not always revealed smoothly.

Harry's visions, important plot-informants, are purposefully chaotic; vital characters missing from previous installments are hastily introduced and then tossed aside. From the Hallows to Dumbledore's secrets, much needs explaining quickly, and those not familiar with the story may feel like they've apparated half-a-dozen times by the time the credits roll.

None of this should bother loyal fans, though, and the atmosphere and staging are some of the strongest the franchise has ever seen. The trials of the three protagonists and the bleakness and tension associated with a life on the run are carefully and emotionally depicted in one of the most accurate book-to-movie adaptations yet.

This of course means long periods of isolation for the trio as they camp and plan, which may be tedious to those who are only watching for the sharp bursts of horror, action and even comedy that punctuate the film. Still, the quiet struggles are the realest, grittiest and most beautiful segments and to dismiss them is to disregard the movie's very heart.

The end may be nigh, but at least the end of witches and wizards, potions and friends is going out with style. The movie has its faults, but the sum of its parts: the absolutely wonderful animated section, the solid acting and the richly textured emotional environment, to name a few, create a whole that should entertain fans and the curious and reluctant tagalongs alike.

★★★★☆

By Alexandra Mandarano, Staff Writer

Burlesque opens much like the career of its star, Christina Aguilera: An innocent, small-town girl with a powerful voice dreams of making it in Hollywood.

Aguilera's character, Ali, is stuck in rural Iowa counting tips from her waitressing job. Ali isn't content to spend her whole life in one town, so she takes what money she has and boards a train to Los Angeles.