Movie Review – Brave (2012)

Brave, 2012.

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.


A medieval princess brings chaos to her kingdom by refusing to marry her suitor, forcing her to spring into action to set things right.

For nearly 20 years, Pixar have not only revolutionised the animation industry, but have brought us some of the finest movies ever to grace the silver screen. From the excitement and thrills of The Incredibles to the heart breaking opening 10 minutes of Up, Pixar very rarely take a step out of turn. Each of their films feels special to them and no other production company can put a film out like Pixar.

Which brings us to their latest offering Brave, a movie about a plucky princess named Merida (Kelly Macdonald – who still sounds just as she did in Trainspotting), who is being forced into marriage with a male member of one of the other Scottish Clans by her reluctant father Fergus (Billy Connolly) and her controlling mother Elinor (Emma Thompson). Looking at the Pixar back-catalogue of movies, this sounds like the most “Disney” movie Pixar have ever made and I think that’s an accurate description of Brave.

That’s not a bad thing to say. Disney has made some incredible movies about Princesses over the years and their upcoming Wreck-It Ralph looks absolutely brilliant. But what makes Pixar so special is that they never conform to the Disney norm and have always kept something unique about them. While this may sound like I’m being down on the movie, I’m actually not. It is the most “Disney-fied” Pixar movie, but it’s actually a really fun, entertaining, heart-warming and exciting film and should really be set aside the all-time Pixar greats like Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and the aforementioned Up.

The plot to the movie is a funny one because it was the last film I was expecting to see given the posters and promotional footage we’ve been given by the marketing department. According to those bits of media, this was a tale of a young red-headed girl who was going to kick some arse while on a grand adventure. However the film is actually a mother-daughter story that feels more suited to a child’s bedtime story book than a feature length movie made by Pixar. When the main plot crux kicked in, I nearly sighed in contempt as I realised where it was heading. I’ll admit, I was disappointed. But when the movie got going, boy did it get going.

Ignoring the lame plot of the movie, Brave is a really exciting film with action sequences that will have you on the edge of your seat, jokes that will make you laugh out loud and touching moments that will wrench at your heartstrings and threaten tears to fall from your eyes. The film is let down by its lacking plot and clichéd jokes about Scotland (bagpipes, haggis etc.) and the 3D is utterly pointless, but everything else more than makes up for it.

The animation is stunning, which should come as a surprise to pretty much no one. The level of detail on all 1500 strands of Merida’s hair is insane and the grand and epic backdrops really immerse you into the environment (which is down to the film’s brilliant design, not the 3D). The score feels very Celtic (as you would expect) and the cast all do a fine job of voice acting. Kelly Macdonald in particular is great as Merida and it’s nice to see an American studio hiring Scottish actors to provide voices for Scottish characters rather than just getting Mike Myers to do it. Such a lucky escape that Reese Witherspoon was too busy to play the role or we could have ended up something much worse. The supporting cast all dive into their roles so well that I didn’t even recognise half of them (except for Billy Connolly, for obvious reasons), which I think is one of the film’s strong points because it means that you are sold on the characters and not on the voices behind them.

As a standalone movie, Brave is a really brilliant film with a poor plot and excellent animation. However, among the pantheon of the Pixar hall of fame, it will sadly never be hailed as a classic and probably rightly so. It doesn’t belong above the likes of Toy Story, Finding Nemo or Wall-E, but it certainly sits just below them very proudly. I mean, it’s a lot better than Cars and A Bug’s Life. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone because it’s a cracking film. It may be the most Disney of Pixar’s illustrious career, but that hasn’t stopped that Pixar charm seeping through and lighting up the theatres.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.

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