Despite all my wanting to really adore the first female driven Pixar animated film I didn’t. Brave is cute, but nothing more than that. You might think to yourself as you read this that I am being unnecessarily harsh. That, unfortunately, is not the case. The film is still better than most animated films I have seen lately though it isn’t up to the Pixar standards.
A simple and well-known story about a child trying to forge their own path in life despite their parents’ best laid intentions. Merida (Kelly MacDonald – from television’s Boardwalk Empire) is an unruly redhead, who is not thrilled about her lot in life. She is the princess, daughter of the King Fergus (Billy Connolly – Mrs. Brown, The Last Samurai) and the Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson – Sense & Sensibility, Nanny McPhee). As is the tradition for hundreds of years the king’s daughter takes on a husband from one of the leaders of the three ruling clans. Well, this won’t do for Merida. She is not interested in getting married as she is more interested in riding her horse Angus through the forests practicing her archery.
After a particularly fierce row with her mother about her behaviour and what is expected of a princess, Merida goes as far as ripping the family tapestry with her sword. Off in a huff she happens upon some will-the-whisps who lead her to a cabin deep in the woods. Inside the cabin she comes upon a witch (Julie Walters – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, Mamma Mia!). After first proclaiming that she was a mere wood carver, the witch makes an agreement with Merida to give her a potion that will change her mother Elinor forever.
Merida believes that all she is doing by giving her mother the potion is making her forget about Merida marrying and the whole being a proper princess thing. What actually happens is something completely different which puts the entire family, especially her mother, in mortal peril.
Visually the film is stunning. You can see every stitch of the characters clothing and Merida’s hair…wow! At several points while watching I found myself mesmerized by Merida’s hair. It has a life of its own! Full of bounce just like the character. Everything about Merida is different from your typical Disney princess. She is rough and tumble and doesn’t seem to need a prince to come save her. It is more likely that the fiery Scot lass would do the saving. A much better role model for young girls.
Though the film focuses on the mother-daughter relationship it certainly is not restricted to the female of the species. There is plenty of humour and action for the boys. So much action towards the end section that I found it a little scary myself. Might be too scary for the wee ones.
As far as the pacing goes it took a while for me to get into it. It was a bit slow for my liking in the beginning, though it does get better as it goes along. Maybe it is due to the thin storyline. And that it is more often dark than it is light and joyful. Pixar is known for its imaginative storytelling and stunning visuals so with Brave they only got it half right.
-Short Films: La Luna, The Legend of Mor’Du
-Behind the Scenes
-Fergus & Mor’Du: An Alternate Opening
-Dirty Hairy People
-It is English…Sort Of