Dir: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Starring: Kelly McDonald, Billy Connelly,
and Emma Thompson
Brave offers moral lessons, strong female characters
MONTE YAZZIE ~ THE FOOTHILLS FOCUS~ 7/4/2012
Pixar achieves the magic of making well-developed, heartfelt films with endearing characters and imaginative storylines. Look no further than Up and Wall-E to see how spectacular they can be. While most films struggle to achieve just one of these accolades, Pixar seems to find success continuously. Brave has its moments of unevenness and familiarity, unusual for a company with such an esteemed catalog, but it’s also a good film that is occasionally great.
The film surrounds the relationship of a mother and daughter, more specifically a Queen and her young Princess. Merida (Kelly McDonald) is a tomboyish young lady who has a knack for adventure and sharpening her bow and arrow skills, none of which suits the manners beset for a princess. Meanwhile, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) is constantly grooming Merida for future reign and marriage, all the while being the voice of reason for a vast kingdom ruled by King Fergus (Billy Connelly). Fergus, nicknamed “The Bear King”, gained this moniker for having defeated a giant bear and still holds a hefty grudge towards the beasts.
Merida does not share her mother’s enthusiasm for her future, or the competition set in motion for Merida’s hand in marriage. The contest brings together a pathetic bunch of suitors for Merida, so she instead joins the competition to compete for her own fate. This of course infuriates the Queen and leads Merida to flee into the realms of a witch and make a decision that will change not only her life, but also those around her.
The film is driven by narrative elements of confidence and growth, both in regards to maturity and self-esteem, which speaks volumes in a princess film where the respected and powerful characters are typically male but in this case are female. It’s also a nice touch to create a princess that isn’t yearning for a prince the entire tale. The mother/daughter conflict is wrapped with good intentions but also serves as a model for communication within a family.
To an extent, the story utilizes these underlying themes effectively, but on the surface it unfortunately teeters with banality. The princess that finds fault with past traditions and goes to extremes to change established institution is a portrait that has been painted better before. Yet, the film is lavish with spectacular landscapes and action packed moments of suspense, which had a few children commenting on the film being “too scary” afterwards. Also, I still contend that 3-D is unnecessary; though it blended well overall in this film, it dulled the lush color composition too much. And, while focused on female characters, there is enough humor and action to attract the young male viewer, but not quite enough focused on adults.
It’s rather unfair to judge Brave with the superb Pixar resume, but it’s undeniably difficult not to. Where this film lands on the list of Pixar films will be disputable, however even with the flaws it’s still a great family film that illustrates moral lessons just like all the rest. The bravery that is reflected with the characters in this film concerning the paths they journey, is the important message; whether young or old it takes bravery to pursue life.
3.75 out of 5.00