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Barbie as Rapunzel

review by Zach B.

 

 

Not Rated

Running Time: 83 minutes

Starring the voices of: Anjelica Huston, Cree Summer

Written by: Cliff Ruby & Elana Lesser

Directed by: Owen Hurley

 

Studio: Artisan

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: The Artist In Me, Rapunzel's Art Gallery, Dress Up Rapunzel, Previews. DVD-ROM

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Frame, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, Chapters (21 Chapters)

Released: October 1st, 2002

 

 

After the success of Barbie in The Nutcracker last year, I guess it would only make sense to have a sequel of some kind (not to mention the merchandise to go along with the release, doll already made included in that kind of package). This time, Barbie takes on another kind of fictional tale... the fairy type. One can only imagine the future... Snow White? Little Red Riding Hood? Cinderella? But I say the story of Rapunzel is a good place to start... Barbie's always had an emphasis on hair, and yes, Rapunzel is the story of true love and hair.

In case your mommy or daddy didn't read you the story, or somehow your preschool didn't read it to you or you never heard it via television, Rapunzel is about a young girl who was beautiful (AKA dream woman as Barbie was imagined, who is also an artist at the start of this tale telling this story) and had very, very long hair. Of course, everyone was jealous of this, particuarly Gothel, a big bad witch who kept her in a remote forest area, surrounded by a dragon and enclosed by a glass wall. But "Rap" (as her peeps call her... okay, okay, just me) finds magic paintbrush that will change her life forever... and by changes, I mean subplots that involve dragons, kingdoms and princes to make it all so magical.

To be honest, that's just the plot summary of "Barbie as Rapunzel" and now that I think about it, I don't think I ever heard a correct version of the actual fairy tale, so who knows how accurate that actually is. All that I remember is that Rapunzel had beautiful hair and she was locked away and was rescued from some prince (I think there was a rhyme that went with that too). I for one believe this version is all glossed up and has lots of additions, but hey, every retelling needs its new quriks, and I'm sure kids won't care either way.

I'm the wrong demographic for this, so naturally, this is by no means my favorite movie. But kids, particuarly young girls still into fairy tales and dolls and the like will probably want to watch this one over and over again. Mainframe Entertainment did the computer animation, and those familiar with their work ("ReBoot" the television series mainly comes to mind) know that they're quite good at what they do. The computer animation has nice detail and is quite vibrant. The sweetness to the story is very kid friendly as well.

Somehow this project attracted a big star... that being Anjelica Huston, who plays our villianous witch (how much money did they pay her?). You got your cute animal sidekicks too, corny humor and romantic backdrop throughout. Overall, this is a decent effort that will really only be enjoyed by that key demographic of young girls. So if you have kids or friends who have kids and they're Barbie fanatics to some extent, then let them enjoy this movie. Though I must say by the time this was over, I was ready to explode out all the sacchrine that was left in my body. Too cutesy for me!

 

To my surprise, this DVD contains both widescreen AND full screen versions. I'd imagine they would make this in full frame only... and how many Barbie fans out there actually like widescreen? Unless you're a DVD buff and Barbie enthusiast/collector of some kind, probably very few. But it's nice to have both versions on it for sure. The 1.33:1 full frame actually loses a good deal of the picture, but it's sure to be enjoyed by families the most. The anamorphic widescreen version is pretty cool, actually in that you do get more picture. Each version looks particuarly good with strong color saturation, very fine detail, decent black levels and whay looks like compression artifacts. Noise also pops up here and there, and it is a bit soft on both, but hey, if you're buying this you probably shouldn't really care at all.

 

As a nice plus, the audio has been mixed into 5.1 Dolby Digital. But it's really nothing to write home about. The surround effects sound incredibly fake... probably some of the most artificial sounds I've ever heard. It's nice they made the effort, but they sound rather clunky than natural. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and there's not much overpowerment by any kind of sound element. I will admit that the London Symphony Orchestra segments actually sound really nice and crisp through the channels, as they are well mixed. .1 LFE is lacking. Overall, there's not too much here. Also included is an English Dolby Surround track, plus English closed captions.

 

The Artist In Me is a live action featurette aimed for kids. What relevence does it have to the movie? Not much... except for the segments about paintings and the magic brush and everything. This actually lasts a solid 26 minutes to my absolute surprise, and isn't that bad. It's actually quite educational for kids, as kids themselves talk about what they enjoy about art, this teacher talks about teaching an art class and how she's a professional and there's also what makes art important to certain cultures and a biography and more (too many ands there). This is very solid and actually did impress me. Do have the kiddies watch this.

Rapunzel's Art Gallery has kids listening to instructions to hang paintings by Rapunzel's requests. It also teaches kids about art, in what the type of painting is and who did it. Fun and informative stuff. Dress-Up Rapunzel is an interactive DVD game where you can dress Rapunzel up to your liking. There are also some Previews. One for Barbie In The Nutcracker, and for some reason, the other is for the Fox feature Ice Age on DVD and video. Go figure. We also have some DVD-ROM feature to entertain the kids.

There's also a lot of voice guidance and even a help section to click on. I'm sure the youngsters - and parents - will appreciate that.

 

"Barbie as Rapunzel" is rather bland and certainly a movie made especially for young girls... not to mention made for merchandising opportunities as well (the savings booklet inside spells that out). The kiddies will like that... but the supplements here may not be much, but are actually fitting and good, particuarly "The Artist In Me" documentary. Barbie fans only need to apply, and parents shouldn't mind picking this one up... especially at a very good price.