Don’t worry Katniss, you can still hit a bulls eye better.
The story is set in the Scottish highlands and centers on Princess Merida (Kelly McDonald), the red-haired princess of the kingdom who defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to her land. In order to right her wrong, she goes to a Wise Woman who grants her an ill-fated wish that may be more than she bargained for.
After the disappointing Cars 2 from last year, Pixar seems like they have finally gotten themselves back up to where they were in the first place. Sadly, I think their bar has been raised a little too high for their own good.
What I liked most about Brave, was the set-up of this flick. I would say probably the first 45 minutes are exciting, adventurous, and very funny and this is where I really thought I had a keeper on my hands. I mean you got Princess Merida acting like a cool, young chick that she is, wanting to do her own thing and you feel like that’s what this film is going to be all about. However, there’s a big twist right in the middle of the flick that I won’t give away and then that’s when things start to get…well..kiddish.
I know it sounds stupid for me to get mad at a Pixar flick for being too “kiddish”, considering that’s the type of movies they make, but the twist here just felt like they were really taking away from a story that could have done so much to me. It could have made me get excited, it could have made me laugh a whole lot more, and it probably could have made me laugh, but instead, it just goes for this playful idea that doesn’t talk about Merida and her struggle of doing what she wants to do, it actually is about her and her mother. This really surprised me because all of the trailers have been pretty much advertising this as a crazy epic, with a strong female lead, that finds out what she wants to do with her life and how. The problem is, that’s only the first hour and the rest is left for us to see and cringe at.
Actually, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s “cringe-worthy” but it’s just disappointing to see, coming from Pixar. Pixar is the company that has had me, in the past, drowning in a puddle of my own tears, destroying my gut by how much I was laughing, and walk out of the theater with a big smile on my face, wanting to hug every person that walked by my for the next 10 minutes. But now, it seemed like Pixar was playing it a little too safe with this one and rather than just going that extra mile in trying to connect with both kids and adults alike, they just go for the low-road and make this movie towards kids. Once again, nothing really wrong with that, it’s just a bummer that this is what Pixar ended up going on with in the end but it’s not their worst film. Just not their best either.
Aside from all of the bad things, though, Brave also has a lot of good that I can’t leave unnoticed. The visuals, of course, for this movie are absolutely gorgeous and I definitely recommend seeing this one in 3D. This is the first time that Pixar has visited the land of Scotland, and they make it look like such a fantasy world with all of these vibrant colors popping out of nowhere and long, sweeping shots of land and forests. Probably the most beautiful thing to look at, out of this whole movie, is actually Merida’s flowing red locks that come right out at you in the 3D as if you can almost reach out and nip a piece of her hair out. So whenever the story is getting you down, just pay attention to the eye candy this movie has on-display here and then it will all get better, as it did for me.
Another first here for Pixar, is that this is the first time they are focusing a film around a female lead and I think they found the perfect one with Merida. First of all, Merida is a kick-ass character that is like all teenage girls out there: she wants to be her own woman, wants to do things herself, and rebels against everything her mother says or tells her to do. This is obviously, an easy character to relate to and cheer on but she also has a lot of spunk to her that gives her this edge, where you don’t know what’s going on throughout her mind next. It’s a pretty cool character and I think that Kelly McDonald was a great choice to voice her but my thing with her is that every time I mention Merida and the word “heroine” in the same sentence, I can’t stop thinking about Trainspotting. I know, I can’t help it, that’s just where my mind goes sometimes.
The rest of the voice cast is pretty good as well, with some familiar voices here and there. Emma Thompson brings some heart to Merida’s conflicted mother, Elinor, and also shows that she can handle a Scottish accent very well. So well, that some of the people around me in my screening were actually jabbering on about whether or not that was Thomspon’s voice. Probably the most times I laughed during this film, were the times the film focused on the subplot with Merida’s dad and his way of controlling a wild and out-of-control drunken party at the castle, with the other kings. I think the main reason I laughed at these parts so much were because when you have such vocal talents like Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane, and Craig Ferguson on-top of their A-game, you can’t help but laugh your ass off, even when things start to get very cute for this film in the last act, and all of these guys are merely forgotten.
Consensus: Brave definitely has some nice heart, humor, and beautiful visuals to show off, but it’s not Pixar’s best because of a surprising plot twist that takes it right into kiddie material, which wouldn’t be all that bad if it wasn’t any other flick. However, it is Pixar and the bar has been raised a little too high for them to do something like this, and almost get away with.