Director: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Julie Walters
Most young girls would love to become a princess some day. That is definitely not the case in the latest Pixar creation. Princess Merida (Macdonald) could care less about the fact that she is a princess. She would rather be the tough, dirty, and athletic type over the prim and proper way she has been taught. She is constantly being reminded to sit up straight and keep her bow off the table among other rules of etiquette. She relishes in the one day a year she is permitted to not act like a princess. Queen Elinor (Thompson) has decided that it is the proper time for Merida to be betrothed to a young suitor. In a royal ceremony, three young men have been brought forward to compete for Merida’s true affection. As all three men are presented, it is quite apparent they are buffoons. Merida was already disgruntled to begin with and these men are not helping the cause. She chooses archery as one of the competitions knowing she can outshine them all. Two of the men barely hit the target, but one of them hits the bulls eye. Merida outshines them all by getting three bulls eyes infuriating her mother. She hops on her trusty horse Angus and rides into the Scottish countryside.
She spots the mysterious will-o-the-wisps and follows them deeper into the forest hoping they will lead her to her destiny. She stumbles upon a cottage inhabited by a witch (Walters) disguised as an elderly wood carver. She begs the witch to cast a spell that will change her mother’s mind. When Merida returns back to the castle, she discovers the spell was too potent by changing her mother into a bear. This does not bode well for King Fergus (Connelly) and his men as he is a bear hunter. Merida realizes her grave mistake and must get her mother out of the castle and back to the witch’s cottage to have the spell reversed.
Brave is the latest film released by Pixar, the studio that brought us Toy Story, Wall-E, and Up. The bar is set pretty high as those movies are wildly creative, imaginative, and original. Brave follows more of a traditional Disney route. You’ve got your princess, a witch, a curse, and some arguments between mother and daughter. This is also the first period piece for Pixar. While it seems like classic Disney, there is no Prince Charming coming to save the day. Merida must figure it out all on her own. Pixar twists the genre a bit by making her far smarter and giving her far more personality than your standard Disney princess.
The story takes quite some time to get into the heart of the plot leaving the pacing at the beginning fairly slow. I am always stunned by the detail put into every Pixar movie. The animation is so rich and vividly appealing. Between Merida’s hair, the architecture of the town, and the Scottish landscape, there is always something to feast your eyes on. I do not think Brave will be remembered as one of Pixar’s best. That does not mean it is a bad movie. It just means it has stiff competition as Pixar has released so many truly amazing films. It tells a beautiful mother and daughter story with a spunky princess as its heroine and teaches a valuable lesson on how one is in control of their own fate. The movie is worth spending the extra couple of dollars on 3D. The 3D technology helps enhance the lush Scottish scenery.
RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)