Posted on June 22, 2012 AT 07:56pm
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, John Ratzenberger
Brave centers on a fiercely independent Scottish princess, Merida, in the first ever female-led story from Pixar. Merida is the eldest child of King Fergus, who loses his leg to a formidable and legendary bear, and Queen Elinor in the kingdom of DunBroch. Merida, just like all teenage girls, has a beef with her overbearing mother. Queen Elinor has been striving, since Merida was a little girl, to shape her into the princess she ought to be. Merida wants nothing to do with it.
To Merida, life is an adventure and she wants to live it that way. When not dealing with etiquette classes with her mother, Merida is out mastering her skills as an archer and riding her faithful Clydesdale, Angus. So when her parents announce that, in age-old Scottish tradition, that there is to be a competition with the prize being her hand in marriage, Merida feels betrayed and powerless.
The three Lords of Scotland (MacGuffin, Macintosh, and Dingwall) and their clans arrive at DunBroch, with their eligible heirs in tow, to try for a chance to win Merida’s hand. As was seen in the trailer, Merida soundly whoops each son in the archery portion of the competition. She even goes as far to split the arrow, that Lord Dingwall’s son accidentally landed a bullseye with, smack down the middle. This still doesn’t convince King Fergus and Queen Elinor of Merida’s want for independence. Merida takes off on Angus after a fight with her mother and ends up in a grove similar to the Standing Stones of Callanish.
Merida is led by will-o’-the-wisps (also seen earlier in the movie) to the home of a local witch. Selfishly, Merida asks for the witch to cast a spell to change her mother so that Queen Elinor will see Merida’s point of view. The exact opposite happens, and instead of Elinor’s opinion being changed, it’s her appearance with a possibility of the change becoming permanent. The audience is taken on a bumpy and predictable ride throughout the rest of the film.
Brave, originally titled “The Bear and the Bow”, is rather charming at certain points . Merida’s younger brothers, a set of mischievous triplets named Harris, Hubert, and Hamish, are a constant source of laughs. There are a number of funny lines. Brave also outlines that always troublesome mother-daughter relationship strain, and how that bond can be mended.
The music fits very well; bagpipes abound. It definitely sets the scene and the atmosphere of the movie. Contributing to the soundtrack is Scottish folk singer, Julie Fowlis, who also had a song featured in the trailer. Primarily a singer of Scottish Gaelic, Fowlis lands it with her songs, “Touch the Sky” and “Into the Open Air”. Both songs are completely representative of Merida. The rest of the soundtrack is grand as well; beautiful instrumentals from the mind of Patrick Doyle. I see a purchase of this soundtrack in my future.
As whole, I liked Brave, but I think Pixar could have done more. The magic spells and chase scenes throughout the movie felt very out of place. I was also sad to see the creative minds behind the production adding another “witch’s spell” plotline to the already inundated fairy tale genre. The company, as a whole, sets their bar high and they didn’t quite reach it here. On the other hand, I am happy to have a ”princess” movie to take my nieces to that doesn’t end with the female lead needing a prince to come to the rescue.
On a side note, as with most other Pixar movies, there’s a great short before the start of Brave. La Luna‘s characters don’t speak, but like most Pixar shorts, do they really need to in order to get the point across? This author doesn’t believe so.
- The GOOD: Showing girls that they, too, can walk their own path.
- The BAD: No real surprises in the storyline.
- The UGLY: The typical “witch’s spell” prototype.
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