Thursday, June 21, 2012
Directed by: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson
Since Pixar's debut with Toy Story in 1995, the studio has been at the forefront of quality family entertainment. Setting a new standard of excellence that appeals to both kids and their parents, Pixar forced other animation production companies to sit up and take notice. With a team of writers and directors with a keen understanding into what draws in audiences of all ages, Pixar has an unmatched ability to make you both laugh and cry.
With only one misstep in 12 features (Cars 2), the studio seems poised for another instant classic with the release of Brave, setting out to do something it had never done before -- centre one of its films around a plucky heroine. It's just a shame that the film doesn't quite live up to expectations.
Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a strong-willed Scottish teen whose tongue is as sharp as her archery skills are exact. With a tangle of the most beautiful red hair you'll ever see, Merida resists the attempts of her parents, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), to see her wed to a rival clansman to keep the peace. Shirking her royal duties, Merida enlists the help of a witch (Julie Walters) in an attempt to change her fate. However, in doing so, Merida unwittingly unleashes a curse that could potentially tear her family -- and the entire kingdom -- apart.
Brave is Pixar's most visually stunning film; arguably their best since Finding Nemo. The colours are so rich and vivid you can see every inch of their textured details, from Merida's wisps of red hair to the beautiful Scottish scenery. Even the unnecessary inclusion of 3D doesn't affect the overall beauty of this film. Every single colours pops.
Credit is also due to the writers for not doing the obvious in pairing Merida up with a young prince. She struggles for her freedom and her actions are thus rewarded. It was a wise decision considering that, above all, this is a story about the often tumultuous relationships between mothers and their daughters.
However, Brave doesn't quite live up the standard set by Pixar predecessors, falling well short of classics like Finding Nemo and WALL-E. It's thin premise contains few jokes or rousing action sequences, leaving the middle of the film feeling a little aimless. It's a simple, straight-forward narrative and that may ultimately be the reason it doesn't truly excel. Although there are moments of drama and a few touching family sequences, Brave lacks scenes with the emotional wallop of the opening 10 minutes of UP or the finale of Toy Story 3.
We can only hope that, now that Pixar has broken new ground with a predominantly female-centred story (one devoid of a male love interest), that others will follow suit. Brave is still a warm and fuzzy family outing, it just feels a little lacking.
FINAL GRADE: B+