Brave is another animated movie from Pixar. It’s a studio that has built its reputation making computer animated movies that have better characters, more heart, and more soul that most live action films, and Brave is no exception. With some of the most stunning visuals and life like animations to date, this family adventure has such a wonderous appeal I doubt anyone would fail to find something to enjoy.
Set in medieval Scotland, Brave follows the story of Princess Merida (Kelly MacDonald) who is wrestling with the responsibilities of her station and her wild and free willed spirit. Bored by her Royal duties and her well managed life she yearns to take flight on a horse, bow in hand, exploring the wild Scottish countryside free of any care in the world. When her parents (Billy Connolly, Emma Tomphson) attempt to marry her off, she makes a wreckless choice that plunges her world into turmoil forcing her to take responsibility for her actions and seek a way to set things right.
The story is not dissimilar to Finding Nemo but instead focussed on the Mother/Daughter relationship, and focussed on the younger of the two making the attempt to repair the broken relationship. It’s refreshing to see stories that address the empowerment of women without perpetuating the myth that one can have it all. The film remains very grounded and reminds the audience that in the age of the individual someone has to accept responibility for the well being of society.
I do have a few elements I take issue with, for starters the film lacks the patience of previous Pixar stories and seems to jump around at a hectic pace more akin to the Shrek movies. Rest assured the comedy is well constructed however, it never reverts to cheap one-liners. There is also a fundamental contradiction in the story. Merida is a free spirit yet she spends most of the film following a pre-destined path set out by a mythical being. It felt odd that she allows something external to her to decide her fate and I was waiting for the moment she decided not to follow the path. She never does, I guess perhaps the film was trying to say that real courage is following your path, not running away from it, but to me that didn’t quite work.
What did work however is the quality of the animation. It’s is utterly stunning, I am always amazed how with each Pixar movie they manage to vastly improve on the visuals and aimation. Scotland is a wonderful country when filmed in real life, and this film certainly does it justice. For this reason alone it’s worth seeing it on the big screen.
Usually the name Pixar is all you need to hear when deciding wether to see this film, but they have stumbled with their last few movies. Rest assured however that Brave is a return to form, it’s not quite the delight of their earlier films but it makes their competition look like amateur hour.