Saturday, 30 June 2012

Film Review: Brave

Pixar lands yet another arrow directly in the bullseye with Brave, a magical and dazzling movie that introduces the studio's first female protagonist, Merida.

Brave is Pixar's first completely original movie since 2009's Up. In between the two we've had two sequels of contrasting quality in Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. Despite not being as memorable or as lovable as Finding Nemo or The Incredibles, Brave is a great addition to the Pixar's growing pantheon of film.

The films central device is the relationship between parent and child. Like Nemo and Marlon before them, Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) and Elinor (Emma Thompson) begin at each other throats over the former's pre-arranged marriage. It's a heart-warming tale that has a strong message at its heart, one that kids won't find hard to grasp and one that adults won't be bored stiff by. One thing that Pixar seems to consistently achieve throughout all of its film's is widespread appeal to people of all ages. Brave is no different in this respect to the studio's best and brightest, with big laughs and tender emotional moments alike.

The most impressive thing about Brave however, is the beautiful aesthetics and distinctive look. Pixar have brilliantly captured the wild, murky colours and shades of the cold Scottish highlands from twisted and tortured forests to crashing waterfalls and high cliffs. Visually, it's up there with Toy Story 3 as one of the best. It's not just with sprawling vistas that the film is impressive however. I found myself nearly hypnotized by the attention to detail given to just Merida's curly orange hair or the individual textures of a table or a tapestry; the fact that a lot of thought has been given into even the slightest of details the experience so much more impressive.

Brave tries to compensate for a lack of male protagonist by ensuring that the majority of its supporting cast will appeal to the male portion of the audience. Whilst Merida learns poise, precision and how to be a perfect princess, the rowdy rabble of Scots that compete to win her heart hold the interest of the boys. The above trio of Scottish lords, Dingwell, MacGuffin and Macintosh, played by Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson sustain the laughs alongside my personal star of the show, Billy Connolly's King Fergus.

At its heart though, Brave isn't about the boys, but the relationship between Merida and Elinor. In a twist not hinted at in any of the preview material, their bond is put to the test and both are made to consider each other by Julie Walters' evil, hook-nosed witch. Like I mentioned earlier, it is a truly heart-warming and endearing tale told in a way appealing to those of all ages. This is the film's greatest selling point; that is a family film anyone can enjoy, from your Nan (who might remember King Fergus personally) to the tiniest tot.

The Verdict: 8/10

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