‘Brave’ Movie Review – Pixar Slowly Rebounds
I know that reviews by comparison are unfair. But still, it’s really hard to look at Disney Pixar movies without a comparative lens. With the exception of last year’s Cars 2, every single Disney Pixar movie has been nominated for an Academy Award. If you actually sit back and think about it, that is an astounding task. Their newest feature, titled Brave, may not be as big of a miss as Cars 2, but it certainly isn’t among the classics, which vary from person to person.
Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman’s Brave follows Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) as she tries to break tradition. When her parents line up three suitors for her hand in marriage, Merida decides to change her fate. She visits a Wise Woman (Julie Walters) who sets a stronger spell than intended upon Merida’s family. With only a couple days to undo her actions, Merida must try to change her fate back.
With a rich main character – who, by the way, is fantastically animated – Brave starts off on the right foot. Also, the filmmakers decided to create a main character unlike something we’ve seen before. We haven’t really had a strong female protagonist before, making the film stand out in that sense. Also, it was nice to see a less US-centric setting, this one heavily Scottish. In fact, when I saw the film at the 38th Seattle International Film Festival, they arranged for a Scottish bagpipe band to perform before the film started!
With a big budget and huge name, Brave looks and sounds great. Not only is the animation top notch (I can’t speak for the 3-D unfortunately, since my viewing was the standard 2-D), but the voice acting was good. Kelly Macdonald had the perfect accent, inflection, and more. As the plot progresses, though, the Disney Pixar effect starts to wear off.
I think the intended audience is partly to blame. This isn’t to say adults won’t enjoy the movie, but I think Brave may have been made for much younger audiences. Where the Toy Story franchise started as a kids movie and matured with its core audience, Brave doesn’t really transcend the happy-go-lucky mentality of children’s films.
But again, I’m getting to the unfair comparisons.
Even without the comparisons to other projects, I think it’s safe to say the film plays a little too happily. I’m not advocating for a completely dark and twisted story, but they’ve pulled it off before. Also being Pixar’s first fairy tale, I was hoping for something a little different.
Backtracking a bit, I want to continue to give the film a lot of props for the main character. Merida is someone different for kids to enjoy. With her sharp archery skills and do-it-myself mentality, she’s both fun to watch and easy to root for. Even though she is to blame for the plot conflict, we won’t hesitate to help her solve the problem.
So really, like most all films, it comes down to personal taste. I’ve personally been very affected by Disney Pixar films. To me, it’s impossible to pick a favorite, with the aforementioned Toy Story franchise and Up being clear upper echelon movies. While it won’t crack the top half, at least Brave tries something new – in the form of character and setting – even if the plot is significantly geared towards children. I can’t (and won’t) speak for your taste, so see the movie knowing what you know, and hopefully you will enjoy it!
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