Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. From Disney and Pixar, a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition and challenges destiny to change her fate.
Brave follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources - including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers - to undo a beastly curse before it's too late, discovering the meaning of true bravery.
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Brave is the story of Princess Merida and her desire to be free of the constraints of being a princess. Raised from birth to act like a princess, Merida has heard her mother say, "A princess is/is not..." time and again. Princess Merida wishes to be free; to ride a horse and shoot arrows, choose the man she will marry, and not be bound by ancient tradition amongst the clans with whom her father is King. Taking matters into her own hands when a tournament is set-up to decide what prince she will marry, and none of the man-boys are very prince-like, Princess Merida defies her mother and soon after runs away from the castle in an angry huff. Princess Merida comes across a path of magical wisps that lead her to a witches cottage where she makes a deal in order to be given a spell that will change her fate. Brave at this point begins to appear similar to prior "Disney Princess" films, except that Princess Merida is a spit-ball of a character, constantly rolling her eyes and saying whatever she pleases without any regard for manners. One of her more defiant silent moments occurs when her wild curly hair is put into a bonnet and each time she pulls one curl out her mother tucks it back in. This action is repeated multiple times and the act of defiance provides humor, if nothing else.
Toying with magic changes Princess Merida's fate in a negative way--as is the way it must be when a princess and magic are together. Brave suddenly becomes an adventure story at this point, as well as a more comedic jaunt of animal antics. The core is always bringing Princess Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor, together to make peace with one another and mend the broken bond between them. It is entertaining, to say the least about Brave. The final act is fast-paced with action, even if it is predictable as to what is going to happen. The climax itself is thrilling, although far too easy of a journey to complete for Princess Merida. Brave does not have much substance. There is not a lingering message or emotion that grabs you when the credits roll. It is far from boring, and the character of Princess Merida is a great deal of fun with her spirited head-strong personality. As are her triplet brothers who cause a raucous everywhere. As a general animated movie Brave is suitable. As a Pixar film where greatness is expected, it falls short.
Disney/Pixar have ventured into uncharted territory with their newest film, Brave. The use of a human protagonist was done in Up, and every film has been an adventure story of some sort or another. With Brave Pixar has animated a "Disney Princess" movie for the first time, and it fails to deliver what a viewer expects from Pixar. As an animation studio, Pixar consistently employs writers and directors who create fantastical stories; they make you cry, laugh, smile, empathize, and always (besides the Cars films, in my opinion) marvel at how incredible the storytellers are at their job. Pixar movies stay with you, they affect you. Something went wrong with Brave. The film spends a great deal of time setting up main character Princess Merida's lifestyle, background, and strong personality leaving very little time for the actual adventure and quest of bravery she must complete.
Brave is essentially a movie about acceptance, and in this case a mother and daughter coming to terms with their differences and finding common ground based on the love they share for one another. The sentiment exists, although the handling of the moments when tears should be trickling down your cheeks they are not. There isn't enough emotion in the dialogue, besides anger and brattiness from Princess Merida--making her more of a spoiled little girl than a strong, female protagonist. She is of course not a negative influence towards women; Princess Merida is fighting to have the right to marry whom she chooses. Yet Princess Merida finds the solution to the problem at hand very easily and without much heart. Brave lingers in the beginning, without a clear direction and then rushes through the interesting part, following the adventurous Princess Merida and the mess she has gotten everyone into by playing with magic. The shortness on character arcs and deep-rooted emotional storytelling is more common in a "Disney Princess" movie, like Tangled. Brave may be entertaining but those wanting the bar Pixar has set for themselves to be raised again, since Toy Story 3 raised it a few notches, will be left unsatisfied. Brave is easy enough to watch and enjoy but it is far from memorable.
It goes without saying that if Pixar Animation is behind a film it is going to look flawless. The beautiful country of Scotland is created on screen with lush greens, and incredible depth for the forest trees and castles in the distance. The animated characters are as life-like as ever, for an animated character, and the small details exist as they always do. The detail to give an older woman a forehead wrinkle or the witch that one specific hair you only see when the light catches it beside her mole. Perhaps the most striking feature of the film is Princess Merida's flowing red-orange curls that light up the screen. The wildness of her spirit, and need for adventure, is signified with the freeness of the curls. Princess Merida stands out from the crowd, as she should. The animation in Brave is gorgeous, just as a Pixar animated feature always ends up being.
Animation, Children and Family, Adventure, Action
June 22, 2012