Pixar's Brave is showing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2012, which is being covered by Samantha Morrison...
Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman.
Featuring the voice talents of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson.
Merida, a medieval Scottish princess, hates not having the freedom to do as she pleases. When the time comes for her betrothal, she takes drastic measures to change her destiny.
Disney/Pixar collaborations have set exceptionally high standards. With films like the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo and Wall-E, all universally praised by critics and audiences alike, each new addition to the set must garner adulation or be condemned as a failure.
Unfortunately, I don’t think Brave lives up to its forebears.
Plot-wise, I feel Brave is lacking. The trailer leaves the bulk of the plot under wraps, and having seen it, I can understand why. The twist’s reveal was the highlight of the film; had I already known it, there would have been little else to keep me entertained. The script is witty, but once we begin act two, the rest is predictable, down to the final heartwarming speech. Most characters seem dispensable; one of the clans lining up for Merida’s hand is even helpfully called ‘MacGuffin’! However, redeemingly, there is an ‘ancient legend’ that Elinor regales to Merida, which becomes a subplot that imbues the film with a sense of history, and reinforces the idea of destiny. It is woven into all three acts, and the legend in itself has such a surprising conclusion that I would quite like to see a spin-off made for it!
Brave’s forte is most definitely that it is an absolutely beautifully animated film. We open with an aerial view over forestland and hills, then slowly descend into a clearing. The grace and delicacy of the animation here continues throughout the film, with some exquisite frames (as anyone can see on Google Images!). Merida’s horse, for example, looked fantastically real. His mane and his feathers were painstakingly detailed even as they flew in the wind, and his interaction with Merida was touching, but without the horse descending into cheap anthropomorphism.
Having lived in Scotland for three years, I was interested to see how Pixar would treat the setting of the film; as cliche, or faithfully? The Scottish, in my experience, take great exception to being reduced to stereotype, which so many people (including the waves of American tourists) are wont to do. With genuine Scottish people populating the cast, I had high expectations, which were met! Though every cliche under the sun was used (kilts, bagpipes, haggis, even Highland cows), nothing felt forced into the narrative, but instead quite natural. The landscapes shown were beautiful, and I hope it inspires folk from far and wide to come and explore what Scotland has to offer!
All in all, Brave is visually stunning, but lacks drive. It’s a lovely family-oriented fairytale, but one that I don’t think is destined to be a classic.
Brave opens in Scotland on August 3rd and arrives in the rest of the UK on August 17th.
Flickering Myth Rating - Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★