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Brave

an animated film directed by Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews

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Come Ye, Mothers and Daughters....Be Brave!

  • Jun 24, 2012
Rating:
+4
I have never been a huge fan of Pixar’s films. I liked them, but I’ve never exactly loved them; save for a select few such as “Ratatouille”, “The Incredibles”, “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 3”, most of their movies weren’t exactly for me. With their somewhat disappointing box-office take with “Cars 2”, I thought perhaps that Pixar may be slowing down. Well, sometimes, a little disappointment can make filmmakers go back to the drawing board, to rework the way they do things. I have to say that 2012‘s “Brave” is a welcome return to storytelling for the CGI animation studio. Directed by Mark Andrews, the film carries enough depth and themes to satisfy the more discriminating film fan as well as charm the little kids that movies such as this were aimed for.

                         Princess Merida in ``Brave.''

The film is set in the highlands of 10th century Scotland in the kingdom of Dunbroch, ruled by King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and his wife, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). They have a daughter named Merida (Kelly MacDonald) who is a skilled archer and a free-spirit, sometimes a little arrogant, Merida is the type of princess who wants to carve her own destiny. According to tradition, the first-born princess must be presented for marriage to the son of the three other lords of the land: Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane) and Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd). Merida defies this sacred tradition and her actions have set into motion that threaten to unleash chaos and fury when she enlists the aid of an old witch (Julie Walters) and she is granted one ill-fated wish. The coming danger now puts Merida in a situation where she must look into her heart to find true bravery and undo a beastly curse before it is too late.

                         Princess Merida in ``Brave.''

                        A scene from ``Brave.''

“Brave” has all the comings and goings of a fairy tale, it uses devices and elements that appear very familiar and yet it comes strong as a film about pride, courage, and the strong bond between a young girl and her parents. Wrap all this around a tale about magic and the realization of one’s own faults, and you have a very good fable. There are themes of woman empowerment in the film as well as how a parent should know when to let go to allow their sibling to choose their own destiny. At its core, “Brave” is a film about a mother and her daughter; where certain expectations may get in the way of the bond. It is not after all for a parent to decide but rather guide their children to choose their own destiny. There are a lot of things to read into in the film, and the themes are very easy to follow.

The main characters in the film are what drove the story. There was a lot of heart in them. They weren’t exactly multi-layered as one, but as a whole in the film, they complemented one another and each character grew around the other. In many ways, Merida is more alike to her father, she is courageous and she wants to learn the ways of the world, much to the dismay of her mother, who wants Merida to stick to tradition. It is your typical “I want to find myself” against “I know what is best” mother-daughter struggle, much as the devices are familiar, the timing and the way the story was laid out by the direction were very effective in dictating its pace. The arrogance of youth against the firmness of maturity. However, the screenplay by Brenda Chapman does not stick to mere fairy tale devices, “Brave” was “brave enough” to go a little darker, as it added a subplot about a certain lost kingdom that gave more complexity to the development of its themes.

                        Queen Elinor and King Fergus in ``Brave.''

                       Lord MacGuffin and Lord Dingwall in ``Brave.''

                      Merida voice by Kelly Macdonald in "Brave."

Be that as it may, the film may be the darkest Pixar film currently and it does allow for more mature themes, but to keep the film from becoming a little too serious, the direction adds a certain degree of slapstick humor brought about by the three lords, Fergus and Merida’s three kid brothers. I know, some may notice the shifts in tempo and the intentional light humor to bring laughter into the film to counter its darker, and more serious premise. I enjoyed it, as the direction had the proper approach and the right finesse to handle the scenes. The film also has some action too. The archery scenes were excellent and the minor fight sequences were very competent for a family film. The film is directed quite well, sure, there were some rough spots but they were too minor to really bring out. There were times that the tonal shifts bothered me, but it weren’t enough to hamper my enjoyment of the film.

The voice-acting in the film was exceptional. Emma Thompson was superb as the queen and her exchanges with Merida were the film’s best parts. Kelly MacDonald was just as impressive as Merida, and I love women with accents, MacDonald brought forth a certain Irish-Scottish feel to her character that made Merida much more credible as the proud princess. I do have to commend the supporting characters as they added a lot of flavor to the film, and even the none-speaking ones Mordu, Angus and Merida’s three brothers had a lot to build upon. (If this was a movie were animals talked like in a Disney movie, I quit!)

                          Merida voice by Kelly Macdonald in "Brave."

                         Harris, Merida, Hubert, Hamish, King Fergus and Queen Elinor in "Brave."

When I first saw the previews for “Brave”, I thought about DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon” because of some of the character designs (Fergus was eerily similar to Stoick the Vast). It seems like Pixar had rewrote their CGI engine to handle more complex visuals and they made the right move. Merida’s horse, the bear designs, and most specifically the hairs and the skin tones were more refined, the clothes also looked like fabric and so forth. I have often complained about ‘textures’ (their human characters appeared ’doll-like’) in various Pixar films, but it seems like the CGI engine in “Brave” may have corrected most of the problems they've had before. The fine cinematography, the layouts of the set designs and the soundtrack made the film all the more enjoyable. The 3D effects were decent, but I don't think it added much to the experience. There were a lot of moments that the 3D was a little sluggish and I felt that the film wasn't shot to be presented in 3D (but that is just a guess). 

                        Merida voice by Kelly Macdonald in "Brave."

“Brave” is a fine practice of CGI animation, and while the story was wrapped around what is tried and true, the execution and the direction managed to enthrall and engage me in its entirety. I hope to see more quality animated films such as this, “Pixar’ had indeed recovered from “Cars 2” and “Brave” has joined the ranks of my favorite Pixar films alongside "Ratatouille" , "Toy Story" and "The Incredibles".

Highly Recommended! [4+ Out of 5 Stars]

Note: "Brave" comes with an animated short before the beginning of the film.

Poster art for "Brave." Poster art for "Brave."
Change Your Fate....Be Brave! Change Your Fate....Be Brave!

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July 09, 2012
I enjoyed this one.
 
June 28, 2012
Excellent review and pictures too!
June 28, 2012
thank you once again, sir!
June 30, 2012
You are very welcome.
 
June 24, 2012
I'm so glad you reviewed this--Brandi and I were talking about this one!! Sounds like a winner to me Will--great review as always!!
June 24, 2012
I think Brandi will enjoy this and you will love the mother-daughter dynamics. Also tell Brandi she should sing more!
June 24, 2012
LOL - I'll tell her!!!
 
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More Brave (2012 film) reviews
review by . January 02
posted in Movie Hype
Perhaps Not Pixar's Finest, Bust Certainly not UnBEARable
To animated film students and CG geeks in general, the geniuses responsible for the Pixar classics we know and love have become something of celebrities themselves.  John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, these are the cornerstones of the Pixar ideology so when you encounter a feature film boasting the Pixar name; it seems odd when such names are absent.  Yet such is the case with Brave, Pixar’s 2012 big budget action film that spent 6-years in development at a cost …
review by . July 12, 2012
By the end of this latest in an unbroken line of Pixar instant classics, you will have no doubt. From beginning to end, Brave displays the intelligence, honesty, and unflinching forthrightness that I think is the signature characteristic that makes Pixar movies both indelibly memorable and watchably funny and smart.      While Merida, the famously and fabulously red-headed coming-of-age princess, is the central character, I was drawn to her loving but overpowering queen mum as …
review by . July 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Generally speaking, Pixar movies are usually fantastic movies.  They're not movies that are just "good."  They're often great.  Really great and they often stand out because of their fantastic and heartwarming stories.  Brave marks a slight departure for Pixar as it goes against many of their typical formulas but that's okay.  It's what will eventually make Brave stand out more so than other Pixar movies.  That being said, Brave isn't quite …
review by . June 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         After taking a slight misstep last summer with the amusing but superficial Cars 2, the creative teams at Disney/Pixar have thoroughly redeemed themselves. Brave is an absolute joy – a seamless blend of spectacular animation, intelligent writing, and tremendous heart and imagination. Although its status as a 3D computer animated film modernizes it from a technical standpoint, its values are firmly rooted in the glory days of traditional cel …
review by . June 17, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
B for Brave
BRAVE Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman Written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi Voices by Kelly McDonald, Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly   Princess Merida: If you had a chance to change your fate, would you?   Not surprisingly in the least, Pixar’s 13th animated feature, BRAVE, is breathtaking from the very beginning. The sprawling Scottish highlands are already beautiful in their natural state but when Pixar uses their imagination …
Quick Tip by . September 08, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Y-A-W-N .......   Sorry, saw it in the afternoon and it didn't do much for me! Blame it on the lack of coffee!
review by . June 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
  Pixar has been one of the most brilliantly run studios in Hollywood for some time.  They churned out movie after movie which grossed them over 100 million dollars, sold more in toys, garnered critical acclaim, and won awards.   Their last endeavor Cars 2 was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record.  It seemed that everyone who worked there was passionate about their projects and wanted to be there. The only complaint really being that it was considered …
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2012
The digital wizards at Pixar have an incredible dossier of Academy award-winning animated films. Their latest film "Brave", is a prime example of the bold new direction for the company behind such classics as "Finding Nemo", "Toy Story", "The Incredible's", and "Monsters, Inc." just to name a few. This time out Scotland provides the setting for the animation masters to weave their magic, and they do in a splendid 3-D feast of sight, sound, and color that captures the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish …
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2012
Anyone looking for more insight into Pixar's 13th animated feature, should check out my interview with director, Mark Andrews at ...    http://www.blacksheepreviews.blogspot.ca/201...views-mark-andrews.html    Thanks for reading, as always!
About the reviewer
William ()
Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family
Release Date: June 22, 2012
MPAA Rating: G
Studio: pixar animation
First to Review

"B for Brave"
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