I have to admit I have an affinity for Pixar. They have consistently released some of the best movies of the past 15 years. In my opinion, a few of their films are some of the best ever released. Period. Because of this, I had high expectations for their latest film - Brave.
The trailers looked visually stunning, and it felt like it had the same charm as previous Pixar films. The film didn’t let me down. It was fun and beautifully shot, but it didn’t quite meet the high standards I have placed upon Pixar. Some weak character development and familiar story elements kept the film from matching some previous Pixar films, but I still loved it.
The film follows Merida, a princess in Scotland in medieval times. She is a tomboy that likes to ride through the glens firing arrows and climbing cliffs for fun. She values her independence and has a strong will. Her mother, Queen Elinor, thinks that Merida needs to act more proper if she is going to be queen one day. She has been trying to teach Merida etiquette and the ways of a lady but Merida doesn’t want any of it. The friction in their mother/daughter relationship is what propels the story forward. Along the way Merida has to deal with a trio of suitors from other Scottish clans, a creepy witch and more than a few bears.
The story is one of the things that didn’t quite meet my expectations. It was a little simple and didn’t give some of the characters much to do other than be comic relief or be a catalyst to move the story forward. The supporting cast of characters including Merida’s father Fergus, her three brothers(triplets), and the suitors and their fathers were all very entertaining. All were voiced by popular actors I like such as Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly and Craig Ferguson.
The problem came when the characters were put in scenes that felt like retreads from the host of princess movies Disney has been putting out for decades. The biggest culprit was the creepy witch who felt very cliched. She didn’t bring anything new to the table. Not a horrible thing by any means, but the film just was not as strong story-wise as I was hoping for.
The film looked amazing though. Merida’s hair entranced me more than once as she road her horse through the glen. At one point, I was actually taken out of the story for a moment and thought, “Wow, that looks like a real bear. How did they do that?” No animated film I have seen in the past few years looks as good as Brave.
In the end I have to say Brave is a really good movie. I loved it. It’s not perfect and there are a couple of much stronger films in the Pixar library but in the end it is still better than 95 percent of everything else that has come out this summer. The voice acting is great. The imagery is magic. I can honestly say that this is only one of two movies this summer that when I walked out I thought I wanted to walk right back in and see it again (the other being The Avengers).
4 out of 5 stars