Friday, 28 December 2012

Disney Pixar's 'Brave' Film Review

Missed this during its Summer release, I've finally managed to see Pixar's latest offering 'Brave' on DVD. Whilst I've heard mixed reviews about the movie, I was certain Pixar would not disappoint and watched this with an open mind.

Set in the Pixar version of Scotland, the misty mountains and lush forests are the backdrop to the adventure, or should I say, dilemma for princess Merida. Strongwilled and fierce, she is much more interested in archery and exploring than she is in being ladylike as her mother prepares her for betrothal.

As the clans arrive to present their sons to Merida, the princess has a plan to forge her own path, with the help of a witch's curse. But when it doesn't go according to plan, Merida must undo the curse before it is too late.

The strength of the movie immediately lies in the unique and original world that 'Brave' is set- from the gaelic ruins and legends to the architecture and dress; even the characters have strong Scottish accents which I thought was a great touch. The added layer of mystery and magic with the will-o-wisps also added a dimension of visual enchantment, which must have been glorious to have seen in 3D.

What would also have been fantastic to have seen is Merida's explosive head of hair, which I recall reading took the animation studio hours to do each strand. The dynamic movement and placement of each of these strands is not to waste, as you do experience its dynamism and it is highly noticeable.

Perhaps they spent too long on her hair, as the plot itself was surprisingly straightforward compared to recent Pixar movies such as 'Wall-E' and 'Up'. The lack of depth and complexity was a bit of a shock as this was what I had expected from them although it was a comfortable and effortless journey to the end (no thinking needed).

I also couldn't help but think of 'Tangled' early on in the movie when Merida was riding on her horse and her hair was flowing in the wind as music began to play. Released a year after the surprise success of Disney's Rapunzel spin-off, I wonder if they tried to at least ride some of that wave- though these movies take years and years in production so I'm sure they planned 'Brave' way in advance.

From the linear storyline, the arrived ending offered a final climax which was exciting, but short and the result was easy and convenient, with a last minute attempt at squeezing our tear ducts. Perhaps this is also due to the lack of a real villain- Is it the witch? Is it the legendary bear? Is it Merida's mother? The 'defeat' of the villain was therefore non-existent. 

Whilst Pixar successfully built up its characters and placed them in a wondrous world of magic and mystery, the lack of a more complex plot kind of let the rest go to waste. Perhaps the focus was meant to be on this mother daughter relationship, but that was hidden amongst everything else- the clans, the bethrothal... which was unfortunately distracting. 

Voiced by:
Kelly Macdonald- Merida
Billy Connolly- Fergus
Emma Thompson- Elinor
Julie Walters- The Witch

Also had voices by Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson.

~~~LA LUNA~~~
If you saw this at the cinema, you would've seen this beautiful short before the movie. Thankfully, this short film is available as a bonus feature. 

"A fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family's most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?" via imdb.

I thought it was breathtaking and one of their best short films ever, especially as the intrigue continues from beginning to end, with the finale a beautiful reveal.

'Brave' is one of Pixar's more gentle movies, offering a smooth and pleasant ride through a world of lush green and greys, the flow of Merida's volcanic red hair a focus, an icon of female independence. A relateable and strong dynamic relationship between Merida and her mother also carried through from beginning to end amidst a distracting set of ugly clan people, a violent bear and Merida's cheeky brothers. There is definitely something for everyone but not everything for everyone as we'd usually get from them.

Highly likely to get some Oscar attention for best animation and best effects.

With the release of 'Monster's University' in Summer 2013, I eagerly anticipate Pixar's next original movie (out 2014, titled 'The Good Dinosaur'), which hopefully brings us once again a story full of  depth and emotion as we've seen during the Finding Nemo->Up era, and of course 'Finding Nemo 2' which I'm still skeptical about.

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