Cert: PG Runtime: 100 mins Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell Starring: Kelly McDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane
If you had a chance to change your fate, would you?
I am a big fan of Pixar films, when I heard about Brave I was rather intrigued to see what Pixar could bring to the table. Obviously we have been in the world of toys,fish,rats, superheroes and flying houses. Now we tread into the world of Scotland, so the story follows Merida (Kelly McDonald), a Scottish princess whose interests include archery and horse riding, is told by her mother that her interests are not what a princess should be doing and that she has to marry. But Merida chooses to defy her mother. And when she and her mother have an argument Merida rides off and meets a witch. She asks for a spell to change her mother. And the witch gives her a cake which she gives to her mother but the change is not what she was hoping for. So she tries to find a way to fix it.Pixar lost a bit its essence and idiosyncrasy when it was engulfed by Disney. Since then, every second Pixar movie we get can be labeled Pixar’s in conception, ideas and originality. The in-between years are for movies like Brave, which follow a ready-made template with structured predefined characters, values and jokes that are very much modern Disney. This is, moreover, Pixar’s fist princess movie ever.
Brave’s animation is amazing from a visual point of view: the colors, layouts, backgrounds, the rendering of the landscapes and characters movement, the camera angling and even the movement of the hair of Merida are spectacular. Still, a good animation movie, to be successful, needs of a good script with a sound story and narrative: what it tells and how it tells it are always more important than how it looks like. Brave’s script -by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi- is, a priory, a winner, as it mixes many European folk legends and human archetypes (like the ones we see in Anderson or the Grimm Brothers’ tales) with modern attitudes and sensibilities. Moreover, Merida is in a way, a combination of all the successful past Disney’s heroines. Thus, Merida is a redhead tomboy princess, opinionated and rebel, super-woman at every level, living in a Medieval Scottish male dominated kingdom that is brought up to be a queen.The film is entertaining and beautiful to watch, and some of the characters are very funny. There are many funny moments especially those involving the witch, Merida’s triplet brothers, and the lady bear.
All the cast of actors do a good job at dubbing their respective characters: Kelly Macdonald as Merida, Billy Connolly as Merida’s father, Emma Thompson as her mother, and Julie Walters as the Witch. To be completely honest, Billy Connolly’s dubbing always sounds like himself not as the character he plays. Still, Brave does not deliver beyond the artistic qualities of the animation, because the story sends contradictory and senseless messages to the children it targets. It feels as if the writing team had done bit and pieces separately, and then stitched them together without further adjustment and polishing. Being so, the movie can be labeled, depending on the moment, of feminist, sexist, retrograde, modern, advanced or conservative. “Obey your mother” can be a revolutionary message in a world in which children are spoiled rotten and disrespect their parents, but going from there to deciding that everything mammy says is good for your future and that the tradition has to be respected no matter how senseless it is, it is a bit reactionary. On the other hand, the story tells us that you can be brave and daring, but until certain point – bravery is subversive, and subversion is not good. What?! Be brave and make your own fate, free will do exist, but fate is fateful and will crash you if you subvert the status-quo. What! What? What?!Too much is always too much. Brave is a beautiful senseless sermon that gets lost in its own wordiness and senseless preaching. It is perfect for small children, as it has lots of action and some funny moments that the little ones (and your inner child) will enjoy. More sounded boys and girl, our just your sound self, could get a bit puzzled at the moral of the story and the wordy ending.