Mini Film Review: Brave

3.5

Property of Disney/Pixar

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell
Writers: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, and Irene Mecchi
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane, and Craig Ferguson
Produced by: Pixar Animation Studios
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: G

 

Synopsis

Growing up in the kingdom of an adventurous, living-legend Scottish king, Princess Merida has never been content with living the mundane day-to-day life of a princess. Having a taste for adventure, Merida has longed for the right to choose her path through life. When the time comes for Princess Merida to be given off to a husband, she decides to go against the wishes of her mother and take her fate into her own hands. Her quest for true independence triggers a circumstantial downward spiral and shows what the price is to control your own fate.

Story

Honestly, the only trailer I had seen for this film prior to its release was the teaser trailer from last year. I did not know what to expect from the story, but it played differently than I thought it would. Brave is not “Mulan-in-Scotland” as many people pegged it to be. Instead of a girl proving she can keep pace with the men, the story is about a girl proving that she has a right to have personal freedom and choice. That combined with the focus on her relationship with her mother makes this a film about female empowerment and independence. It’s a story of modern sentiment taking place in mystic/feudal Scotland.

Being that Brave is from Pixar, I was expecting a higher level of storytelling. After all, this is the same studio that has given us well-developed stories such as The Incredibles and UP. Unfortunately, Brave finds itself in the shallower end of the storytelling pool with the likes of other also-ran animated flicks. I have no issue with the premise. The issue I have is that there is no punch to this tale. I didn’t feel like I was experiencing anything deep or new with Brave. This film just felt like an exercise by Pixar to create their own “Disney Princess” film. They are able to nail that vibe almost to a “T” which is to Brave’s detriment.

The shallow story causes for some pacing issues during the second act. After setting up the world so well in the first act, Brave ends up getting lost trying to figure out what story it wants to tell. The catalyst moment of the film takes place around the midway point and feels half-baked. The follow-up gives no real sense of urgency and the film is left to wallow in irrelevancy. The third act recovers a bit with a typical tear-jerker moment, but the emotion is stunted due to the flat build-up.

The film has far more slap-stick comedy than we have seen from Pixar in the past. I’m not going to say this is a wholly bad thing as there are moments that will bring the giggles, but slap-stick is something that is generally reserved for other studios. Pixar’s humor should come from ingenious writing and not an over-reliance on physical humor.  I was starving for more from “The Lamp” with this one but there was no sustenance to provide.

Rating: 3/5

Technical

It’s true that every Pixar film is a technical marvel. The quality of Pixar’s animation is second-to-none. Even their sister company Disney Animation has trouble trying to keep up with Pixar’s presentation. All that said, I have maintained that we have seen only minor steps up since 2008’s Ratatouille. Ratatouille was the last Pixar film where I felt like computer animation had made a major evolutionary step. Don’t get me wrong, Wall-E, UP, and Toy Story 3 are beautiful, but none of them can hold a candle to the animation of Brave. The detail in the environment and characters left me dumbfounded. I am pretty sure my jaw was lying on the floor of the auditorium for the majority of the flick.

Rating: 5/5

Cast

The voice cast contains a number of well-known Scottish and British actors and they are suited well for their characters. Pixar certainly knows how to cast their films. No complaints here.

Rating: 5/5

Property of Disney/Pixar

Though I would consider this a third tier Pixar film, it is still a worthwhile experience. It does drag quite a bit during the second act as the story tries to figure out where it wants to end up. On a technical level, it is the best looking animated film to date so the audience will be in for breathtaking views. There is enough slapstick comedy for kids to enjoy. It’s not quite the return to form that I was hoping for following Cars 2, but it is something that everyone, Pixar-junkies (like myself) and general audiences alike, can enjoy.

OVERALL RATING: TOO GUD

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