Monday, June 25, 2012

Brave: Movie Review


Cast: Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson

Writers: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Irene Mecchi

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell

** and 1/2*'s out of four.

 Pixar has had a long history of making good movies.  They are the only animation studio I know that really pays attention to the details of each of their projects, and with "Brave", they did it again.  Other studios would cast actors that are recognizable in the lead roles, but John Lassiter and the rest of the Pixar team wanted realism, and so they cast actors that were right for the role.  I only wish they would put more effort into the actual story-line.

*****NOTE*****  The following review will have Spoilers.

Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is about to be engaged to a young prince and this is not what she wants at all.  This is a girl who craves adventure and has no interest in settling down.  Her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson), believes that tradition is very important and if she doesn't choose a husband soon, then a war could break out between the different tribes.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the situation, Merida runs off from the ceremony and stumbles upon an old cottage where a witch (Julie Walters) lives.  While there, she devises a spell that will help Merida's mother change her mind about all this wedding nonsense.  The only side-effect is that it turns Elinor into an actual bear.  So the young princess must find a way to turn her mother back and help keep her away from her husband, Fergus (Billy Connolly).  He had his leg cut off by a bear and, I'm guessing, is still holding a grudge against them.

It's at this exact moment that I became uninterested in this movie.  I really thought the screenwriters could have thought up a much better plot device to get both the mother and daughter to bond, rather than do the whole body switch thing.  True, I'll give them originality points for making it a Bear instead of having them just switch with each other, but at the end, nothing was really solved.  Elinor is the only one that made any changes in this movie and learned to accept her daughter's wishes for Independence, too.  I never got any scene where Merida understood how her mother felt.  Of course, she feels bad that she turned her mother into a bear, but the whole core of the story was to try and get their differences worked out and they never did.  The cast is quite good, but when there are moments of drama it just doesn't have quite the same impact as the other movies in Pixar's Library.

The animation is the best thing I have seen so far this year, and if I were grading the movie on just that alone, it would have recived a much higher score.  There are moments where Media is ridng her horse and shooting arrows at targets that feel so fluid you swear they put cameras inside this world.  I wouldn't be surprised if a team of a thousand animators were used to animate her hair, too.

Some will say that it is groundbreaking for Disney to have a Princess who doesn't end up in a committed relationship with a handsome prince.  That statement would be true, if this were made before the woman's rights movement.  But now it feels like their message is just a tad too late.


  1. I agree it could have been better, but I still enjoyed it. The way I look at this whole Pixar thing is a straight A student got a B+. That actually isn't a bad thing.

  2. There's a lot of missed opportunities for this flick, Vern, you're right. But I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Like you mentioned, the Body Switch thing has been done before... but I still enjoyed the movie as they created it.

    1. Fogs thanks for writing back. I enjoyed the style and animation and I loved that is has both actors from Trainspotting in this.

  3. Great review. I haven't seen this yet but I'm eager to this weekend. My daughter has seen it twice and I've been trying to coax a review out of her but she's pretty quiet on this film. All the trailers for the movie have reminded me a lot of the character of Arya from "Game of Thrones," which makes me want to see this film.

  4. Good points Vern but I still think you're a little generous. I just could not find myself in love with the movie and was really disappointed in Pixar for making it.

  5. Thanks for the comments Alex and Nick. I stand by my earlier thoughts and claim the animation is really good. It's the story that falls flat but that first section was really well done

  6. I liked Brave, but I completely agree with you. Why oh why can't they come up with something original for a Princess Movie? I'm disgusted that this beat Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie for Best Animated Feature. It's good, but it's one of the worst from Pixar. IMO