- Everyone in the movie has clearly defined motivations--both the good guys and the bad guys (and the chaotic neutral guys who are secretly sweethearts underneath all the dented armor and scars). At no point are you left wondering why someone is doing something--the action flows pretty smoothly from what the characters want.
- Flynn/Eugene and Rapunzel are really equals in the story, unlike most (all?) previous 'Disney princess' movies. Rapunzel with the coming-of-age story, Flynn/Eugene with a believable-thought-compressed redemption story. They're both necessary; without either one the story grinds to a halt, and they both encourage each other to grow in different ways. And in addition, they know each other quite well by the time there's any mention of marriage--much as I love Sleeping Beauty, Prince Philip and Aurora are almost side characters in their own story, and their relationship consists of less than 5 minutes interacting off in the forest.
- The animation is spectacular. Granted, I'm still mostly a 2D animation gal, but there's some gorgeous stuff here, and the paper lantern scene is like something out of Maxfield Parrish. And there's one 30-second scene with the king and queen which always makes me tear up, just from how beautifully emotional the 'acting' is.
- It's really funny--I giggle every time when Rapunzel checks Flynn for pointy teeth, or Flynn takes her to the Snuggling Duckling. Just the Snuggly Duckling scene alone is probably worth the price of admission. Just--perfect.
I rewatched "Dead in the Water" as prep for the next chapter of In a Cursed Hour, which was kind of a fun perspective to take on it. One of the things I hadn't noticed before is that the victim from the opening teaser must have been swimming leisurely in a regular swim suit in November, and beyond that, November in Wisconsin. Must have had antifreeze in her veins. Also, I keep forgetting how ridiculously flimsy Sam and Dean's covers are in the first couple of seasons. There's no attempt to look or sound the part, Dean just holds up his fake badge and barrels along until someone gets suspicious. No wonder Sam makes them go get suits in the next episode.
The bit where Dean talks about his mom's death has a different weight to it looking back from s13--and if it wasn't almost midnight, I'd probably dig into that a bit more. (Feel free to do so in the comments.) One of the things I'm looking forward to about writing this case for the MoL AU is that we're going to get the parallel scene from Sam's POV, so we'll be able to explore his reaction to finding out about Dean's post-fire muteness. Definitely one of the advantages text has over film.
We're going to have to reformat the case, though, because the whole thing rests almost entirely on coincidence. Remove Lucas from the picture and the whole thing simply disintegrates. Sam and Dean spend most of the episode just showing up at places and having things happen, rather than going in methodically and actively. That being said, there are some nice touches--my favorite of which is probably the scene where Dean decides not to leave town after all-there's just something about the dialog there that rings very right; the sort of conversation that happens on roadtrips, right down to "you just missed your exit".
Overall, it still feels a bit wobbly in places, but you can see how things are going to pull together in subsequent episode/seasons. And it's a gorgeously filmed episode, though that's no surprise for something shot by Kim Manners.