Dir: Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman, 2012
The teenage Princess Merida enjoys her independence, adventuring around the Scottish highlands with her bow and arrow. When presented upon the idea of arranged marriage by her over-bearing mother, Merida flees to the forest in search of an escape from the life her parents want for her.
Pixar has garnered itself a reputation of being the most family friendly film studio since it rocked the world with Toy Story in 1995. Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and Up are but a few of the modern-day classics that now have adults yearning to see their next effort almost as much as kids. So needless to say when they release a new feature film, there’s a little bit of hype and Brave is no exception.
Following up on the disappointment that was last year’s Cars 2, Pixar released their first original feature since 2009. Obviously trying for the past two decades to shy away from their parent company Disney’s territory, director Mark Andrews finally brings Pixar into the land of princesses, magic and cauldron voicemail. The themes of responsibility, family and well, um, bravery are textbook fairy tale fodder. Even Disney’s 2010 effort Tangled, while revamping older plots, managed to make more of an innovative impression. While there are interesting characters, feminist values and humour throughout, Brave never truly feels as exciting as it should be (witches, monsters and battling Scotsmen included). Mind, there is the core mother-daughter relationship that tugs on the heartstrings if one can relate but the mature content featured in so many of Pixar’s previous outings is sorely missed.
In the plus column, Brave is visually stunning and has a wonderful soundtrack comprised of Gaelic folk songs, making it an overall delight to watch (an early montage of Merida gallivanting through the countryside serving as the stand-out moment of the film). Also, Princess Merida will certainly classify as one of the great heroines (Katniss for the PG audience, anyone?).
When all is said and done and happily ever is after, Brave’s storyline and development is far too familiar for those who have been around long enough to see Walt Disney’s trademark gems but when considered for the youth of today, it staples itself as another Pixar success.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆