Directors: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andres and Steve Purcell
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
Brave focuses on a young Scottish princess named Merida (Kelly Macdonald). She enjoys archery and running free rather than abiding to the suffocating constraints of royalty enforced upon her by her mother (Emma Thompson). When a tournament that brings the entire kingdom together in order to find her husband begins, Merida turns to magic in order to change her mother and change her fate. One of the principal reasons why Brave is not up there with the higher echelons of Pixar’s work, is that its plot lacks the uniqueness as films such as Wall-E and Up. Even judging the film on its own merits and not unfairly comparing it to Pixar’s other work, this is a storyline that we have seen done before and is one that never really surprises us.
The other principal problem of Brave, that prevents it from hitting the target of greatness, is that it never really packs the emotional punch that you want it to. Previous Pixar films have been the closest I have come to crying in a cinema; there are moments in Brave (Particularly in the third act) that are ripe with the possibility of such emotion, yet it never quite delivers. It is these two aspects of Brave, the unoriginality and the lack of emotional punch, which let it down and illicit such recognition due to the fact that these are things Pixar films usually never suffer from. This Pixar related criticism has become a clichéd one regarding Brave, but that’s because it’s true. However moving aside from those two problems, Brave is a very good film.
We have seen so many animated films now that it is rare if not impossible for us to be surprised anymore by the beauty of what we see on screen. However, Brave is the first time in a while where I have been struck by just how gorgeous some of the animation was. While the nature of the locations certainly helped, this is a visually stunning film. It is important to note that I saw the film in 2D and I have no desire to see the film darkened by the unnecessary addition of another dimension.
Another one of this film’s strong points is its music. Throughout the film I found it very easy on the ears, with the music really elevating the film and at some points, getting me into the action and eliciting the sort of emotional response that was not coming through the characters or the performances. I was pleased to discover during credits that one of my favourite film composers, Patrick Doyle (Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Thor), had done the score. I was even more pleased to see one of my favourite bands, Mumford & Sons, contributed to one of the film’s many songs. While Brave may be one of Pixar’s lesser works narratively, it is one of their stronger works visually and musically.
The film is a very energetic one and despite having a running time, which may seem long for a film of its ilk, I wasn’t bored or losing interest for a second. This film is incredibly well edited and paced; it never drags and has a great rhythm to it. There are some montages and scenes of action, comedy and tension, which are incredibly well conceived and constructed.
Ultimately this film is simply enjoyable, it moves along at a brisk pace, pleases the eyes and ears and while not heartbreaking, it is heartfelt. While not as unique or affecting as Pixar’s best, this is still a film that can be enjoyed and appreciated by all ages, with a story that is still compelling despite its clichés, due to the professionalism of the execution. It’s easily the best animated film of the year so far and a respectable, solid addition to the Pixar family, even if it does seem more conventionally Disney than what it is accompanying.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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