Tom Sims, Executive Director of the Cape May Film Festival, reviews “Tangled” and “127 Hours”
Never have I reviewed an odder pair of films than this week’s. Where to begin – with the suspenseful tale of one man’s struggle against nature and time or a classic retelling of a somewhat hairy story? Let’s go with Tangled.
Say what you want about the entertainment industry kingpin, but Disney is at the top of its game with this adaptation of the Rapunzel story. Disney writers have proven their acumen for not only retelling (or reimagining, as is the new buzz word for this type of adaptation) the original Grimm fairy tale, but upgrading the story for even more poignancy and charm.
Rapunzel (played by actress/singer Mandy Moore), is the princess of a small, vibrant, peaceful kingdom. Because of a rare healing plant used to save her and her mother during childbirth, Rapunzel’s magical locks have healing and restorative powers that are known only by an old witch, Mother Gothel (played by Donna Murphy). The old witch finds youth in Rapunzel’s hair and steals the baby, keeping her locked up in a nearby tower for 18 years.
With the help of a runaway bandit, Flynn Ryder (played by Zach Levi), Rapunzel goes on an adventure to rediscover her roots. The themes of being lost, finding your true calling, and discovering genuine healing play strong with wonderful storytelling. As always, the animation leads the way at a time when all animated work figures in the forefront of a film’s selling power.
In 127 Hours James Franco plays Aron Ralston, a real-life hiker and canyon explorer who gets trapped in the vast unknown with no means to call for help. No one knows where he was planning to spend the weekend. Franco, who has been fantastic in the Spiderman series as well as comedies such as Pineapple Express and Date Night, delivers an excellent performance as a man trapped by the elements with slim chances at survival.
Although the film is very good, there is something missing that prevents it from being truly spectacular. That something might involve spending more time on developing Ralston’s character so that the audience can be truly engaged by the end. We sort of know from the beginning that there are few options for this adventure-seeker trapped by a rock (and perhaps his own carelessness). The parts of the movie about his life were possibly too subtle… and I can’t believe I’m saying that anything might be too subtle! Although worth seeing, 127 Hours might leave an impression that lasts a little under that timeframe.