Review: Brave

Brave is the newest film by Pixar and isn’t exactly what you would expect from them. Instead of the modern, cutting edge story-telling of Wall-E or Up this is much more traditional fairytale, akin to classic Disney. There’s even a very simple, clear moral message that runs right through it like a stick of rock: Be careful what you wish for.

There are magical wisps, witches, warriors and, of course, a tempestuous princess. Even the animation seems more traditional and less complex than recent films. But look closer and you might just find that what it lacks in spectacle it more than makes up for in depth and detail. The backgrounds are astonishing, but my favourite part of the small detail was the movement in Princess Merida’s curly auburn locks.

As you would expect, however, there is a standard that is a mark above most other digital animation studios. The humour still works on two levels, there are gags in there for the parents woven into the broad, slapstick moments that kids will enjoy.

The story is a classic plot about a child being forced to do things she doesn’t want to do by her parents and rebelling against it. In this case Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is a princess who has been raised to be the future queen by her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson). Though her father, the larger than life King Fergus (voiced by the equally larger than life, inimitable Billy Connolly), has always undermined this by teaching her to shoot arrows and fight. Which Merida she takes to with relish.

After a fight with her Mum she runs away and follows some ‘Willow the Wisps’ to a witches house where she buys a spell to change her mother and from here things go rapidly downhill.This leads to the mother and daughter to work together to overcome what has befallen them and while it all looks hopeless, not to mention dangerous, they grow closer to each other and start to see the error of their ways. Much more than this would give too much away about the plot and I feel it’s better not to spoil things, sometimes.

Something else that adds to the atmosphere of the film is the soundtrack, Patrick Doyle has called upon traditional folk musician and singer Julie Fowlis as well as the more well know, but no less folky, Mumford & Sons. It really gives a  fittingly ethereal feel to the fantastical Scottish landscape Pixar’s animators have created.

As with everything Pixar produce, this is a finely crafted, magical film that will probably stand the test of time along with the rest of their canon. Though it may not be the most brightly coloured and showy film, it has the quality  of design and script that would rival any fairytale Disney have released.


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