Of late, there has been a heated, ongoing debate in the Disney fandom as to which of the two recent animated hits – Tangled and Frozen – is the better movie. In this article, we try to analyze nearly every aspect of the two movies, and although this isn’t a definitive opinion piece, we attempt to break it down scientifically. Kind of.
TANGLED VS. FROZEN!
TANGLED (2010) is Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 50th Animated Feature Film. It was a box office hit with a worldwide collection of $590 million and marked the first time CGI animation was used for the traditional Disney princess musical “formula”. It garnered critical acclaim and went on to become one of Disney’s most popular films of all time.
FROZEN (2013), Disney’s 53rd Animated Feature, built upon the success of Tangled, and turned out to become a critical and commercial sensation, with $1.2 billion at the global box office (the highest grossing film of 2013) and two Oscar wins. It has found its way into popular culture and has become the most commercially successful animated film ever.
ROUND 1: ANIMATION AND VISUALS
Back in 2010, Tangled was considered to be one of the most beautiful looking animated films ever created. The animators worked hard to create a “painterly look”, blending hand drawn and CGI techniques. As a result, we have a film that is visually stunning. Rapunzel’s hair is the scene-stealer. It shimmers, glows and moves fluidly, making it a marvel of modern animation. Characters’ facial expressions are lifelike, as seen especially in Mother Gothel. Colours are eye-popping and bright, with vivid greens and pinks popping out all around. Clothes have intricate patterns and embroidery and look realistic. Silk and leather are instantly recognizable, as are gold crowns and jewels. And the iconic lantern sequence is the movie’s star attraction.
Frozen takes a different approach to its animation. Characters aren’t lifelike, rather, veer towards a more cartoony look. Snow and ice are the stars of the movie. Special software was created to emulate the translucency of ice, as well as the unique properties of snow. Elsa’s ice gown is a masterwork of animation and design. It sparkles, glitters and looks incredibly ethereal. The climactic blizzard is another unprecedented milestone, and Elsa’s ice palace is something to behold. It looks chillingly real and sends a shiver up your spine. Frozen also features the same level of detail seen in Tangled. Wooly fabrics, beautiful rosemaling, textures and embroidery, it’s all there. Check out the tiny snowflakes in Elsa’s hair!
WINNER: TANGLED. The glossy, polished and detailed visuals trump Frozen‘s by a narrow margin.
ROUND 2: STORY AND WRITING
Both Tangled and Frozen are fairytales with a psychological story at their core. Rapunzel is held captive by her “mother” for eighteen years, yearning to break free and see the world. Anna and Elsa are sisters torn apart by a secret, which drives Elsa to fear the world. However, on the basis of pure entertainment, Tangled’s story stands out as being more enjoyable, cohesive and satisfying by the time we reach the end. Frozen,despite its stellar opening and first act, sort of loses its drive in the final act, which falls rather thin and contrived. Sure it all wraps up neatly with a bow, but the ending of Frozen, lets be honest, leaves more to be desired. Still, Frozen manages to focus on much more mature themes such as fear and betrayal.
Which is the more quotable movie? We’d probably say Frozen. Although we love saying “They just can’t get my nose right!” whenever we see pictures of ourselves.
WINNER: TANGLED. Frozen gets points for a dark, female-driven tale, but let’s face it: Tangled just has a more fun story, which remains strong and engaging throughout and never fizzles out.
ROUND 3: CHARACTERS
The characters in Tangled tend to rely on each other to develop (hence the title). Rapunzel is perky, feisty, but still a little dependent on events around her. Flynn Rider is hilarious and commands most of the movie’s humor. With Gothel, we also have a great villain (although far from Disney’s best) who is manipulative and evil. In Frozen, the characters are more well drawn and we tend to not only relate to them, but root for them. Anna’s wide-eyed optimism, Elsa’s internal conflict, Hans’ motives and Olaf’s yearning for summer, these are all characters who we feel for on a more personal level. Plus, we know characters like them in our day to day lives. We believe in them.
WINNER: FROZEN. The characters are varied, relatable and more lifelike than those in Tangled. We connect with them and their problems more easily.
ROUND 4: MUSIC
Music can make or break a Disney movie. Tangled has a fun bunch of songs that, while fun to listen to and sing along, don’t stand out very much in the Disney songbook. An exception is the beautiful “I See The Light”, a song about opening your eyes to love. Another great song is “Mother Knows Best”, where Broadway’s Donna Murphy brings down the house. The songs by Disney veteran Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater are, overall, pleasing but run the risk of getting boring too quickly. Menken’s score, however is much better, incorporating guitars and folk instruments to create a fairytale sound that is instantly memorable (“Kingdom Dance”, anyone?).
For Frozen, Disney roped in a relatively new songwriting duo, husband-and-wife team Robert and Kristen-Anderson Lopez, who succeed in bringing a fresh energy to the Disney musical. The very opening of the movie (set to a traditional Sami Vuelie) feels classy and reminiscent of The Lion King. The songs are epic and have a very Broadway feel. Standout songs include the poignant “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman?”, the satirical “Love Is An Open Door” and the soaring “Let It Go”. “Let It Go”, performed by Broadway legend Idina Menzel as Elsa, is the movie’s most powerful moment. It’s not an “I Want” song, it’s an “I Am” song, and one that children will be singing for decades to come. Equally memorable is the score by Christophe Beck, which succeeds at every level. It’s one of his best musical scores to date.
WINNER: FROZEN. Hands down, this is Disney’s most musically powerful movie since the 90s era.
And the winner is…nobody. Let’s face it: both Tangled and Frozen are movies of a great caliber, and among Disney’s very best. To put one above the other wouldn’t be fair to their own individual merits. While Tangled has a stronger story and crisper visuals, Frozen wins for its characterization and music. It’s perfectly fine for us Disney fans to argue which movie is superior (because apparently it’s what we do), but at the end of the day, both are fantastic films which can be revisited numerous times. And to be honest, we love them both.
@IAmGaryWright Frozen, because it wasn’t trying to be a modern animated film and a classic Renaissance film at the same time…
— Jemma Clark (@JayEllCee12) May 25, 2014
@IAmGaryWright This is hard but…I think I’m going with Frozen. Mainly because I felt Tangled was trying to be too modern… — Abbi (@disneypride98) May 25, 2014
RT “@iamgarywright Go: Tangled or Frozen? And why?” – TANGLED: because Disney spoiled us with hair animation and nothing after compares.
— Amanda Williams (@Amandimation) May 25, 2014
@IAmGaryWright ‘Tangled’. ‘Frozen’ had too many plotholes, pointless songs, and just filler. — Mark Brown (@The_Anim_Comm) May 25, 2014