Monday, August 06, 2012

Review: Brave

Brave is Pixar’s first movie with a female lead and it’s about a princess. The princess fairytale genre is more associated with their parent company Disney, so it was interesting to find out how the acclaimed studio will handle this timeless genre. Brave delivers a straightforward story, it’s really simple at its core but they still somehow manage to make it stand out.

Princess Merida (Kelly McDonald) is the daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connoly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) of DunBroch, Scotland. Merida is a free-spirited girl who does not want to follow the rules her mother set so she would become ladylike as a future queen should be. A tournament was organized for the eldest sons of the three other ruling clans in the land to compete for Merida’s hand but she sabotages the event which led to an argument with her mother. Merida runs away and meets a witch (Julie Walters) who can make her wish come true: a spell to change her mother. But it was a change that she never expected and must now find a way to fix it before the spell becomes permanent.

Brave, unlike most Pixar films, is direct to the point; it has no underlying deeper themes or messages. It’s basically a story about a mother and a daughter. While the plot is not ambitious nor reinventing the wheelhouse, it’s still good as the message is heartfelt and sincere. The depiction of the mother-daughter relationship in Brave is poignant as it mirrors real life. It’s not telling anything new about parent-child conflicts but its message of open communication is strong and the way it was able to find a common ground between Merida and Elinor is well-played as they both learned something from one another.

It’s also refreshing to watch a fairy tale with no outright villain. Yes, there’s a witch but she’s not really evil and she’s basically just a plot device (and comic relief). There is also no prince charming or knight in shining armor to rescue the princess. After all, the princess is not a sweet, good girl that needs to be saved as Merida is a tough lass but her immaturity and impulsiveness led to the movie’s main conflict. While Merida’s comeuppance felt a little rushed, somehow in the end it all works out and you end up rooting for her to break the spell and get her family back.

The technical aspect of the movie is a marvel. From Merida’s vivid hair to the stunning landscapes to the detailed interiors, the animation in this movie showcases the level of visual craftsmanship Pixar is capable of. The musical score, which is based on traditional Scottish sounds and instrumentations, complements the lush scenery of the film and fully captures the medieval setting of the story. The voice performance is first-rate especially Kelly MacDonald who gave Merida a strong impression.

Brave may not be groundbreaking and mostly follows familiar plots of classic fairy tales, but it tells an immense story about mending family ties which will resonate to a lot of people. It undeniably offers a conventional story but it is well-executed that has a sense of humor and a big heart. Coupled with one of the most beautiful animations to date, Brave is what a family movie should be.

Rating: 9 /10

No comments: