In interests of fairness, I will summarise its positive characteristics first, even though there’s a dozen positive reviews that do the same. So, to be brief, the animation itself is advanced and competent, although lacking when judged against later works. The 3 protagonists (including the stallion) are energetic and upbeat, and Rapunzel does capture the innocence of youth, etc. The inevitable love story and Flynn’s struggles between abandoning Rapunzel and staying are believable, if unexceptional, and the pet chameleon is always cool when it appears.
However, there are also negatives aplenty. Firstly, Flynn and Maximus are not new characters: if you watch the underrated Road To El Dorado
, you’ll quickly find that Disney simply reused their designs from that film, and it’s impossible to deny the similarities and knowledge that you’re watching a recycled product. Then, the dedicated action scenes in the film are frequently devoid of tension, thanks to the guards so incompetent it actually hurts to watch them. Royal Guards firstly get beaten by two hardened criminals, (somewhat believable), then get disarmed and knocked out in their numbers by Flynn, who never fought before and used a goddamn frying pan of all things. The scene at the end where guards all get schooled by Maximus in frying pan combat just rubs salt in the wound.
What really tipped the scales for me was Mother Gothel’s treatment. She is one of the most benign villains
in the Disney canon so far, unwilling to kill, and content with being left alone in peace, yet still gets the standard death-by-gravity treatment with little regrets. While she was certainly evil in taking Rapunzel away from the entire world, King and Queen were initially in the wrong: Gothel was the one who discovered the flower and had the right to keep it. In real world, their actions are much like having forced vital organ donation on someone to save your child, which is morally unjustifiable for me.
In fact, I found the whole story far more enjoyable if you view King and Queen as greater villains. Suddenly, the stunning incompetence of guards makes sense: kingdom cannot afford to train them because of enormous sums blown into launching lanterns. Similarly, Flynn and the singing gang are outlaws despite being rather nice people because the country is broke and they have no other opportunities in life.