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Dan's Review: Brave

Pixar is back in form.
Brave (Disney/Pixar)

Rated PG for some scary action and rude humor.

Starring (voices of) Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Sally Kinghorn.

Written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, and Irene Mecchi.

Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell.

GRADE: A

REVIEW:


Pixar is back. The pioneer of computerized animation has shown signs of decline over the past decade, with less-than stellar results for films like Ratatouille and the Cars sequel. I'm not suggesting that the quality of Pixar's animation has diminished; it's improved with the advance of technology. The creativity and storytelling has been the real issue, and the release of the animations studio's latest film Brave proves they can venture into new territory, by tapping into some good, old-fashioned Disney fairy tale charm.

Kelly MacDonald voices the young Merida, the daughter of Scottish King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) who lives a 'Tomboy' lifestyle; quite handy with a bow and arrow. Merida's less-than-feminine ways troubles her mother, who wants her to grow into more of an elegant queen, suitable for marriage. When the three main Scot clans gather at Fergus' castle, all three leaders bring their firstborn sons, intending to woo her hand in marriage through some sort of feat of strength.

Merida chooses archery as the contest for her hand in marriage, and realizes that she, as a firstborn, is equally qualified to win her own "hand," and proceeds to do so with an incredible display using her bow. Her stunt doesn't sit well with the clans or her mother, so Merida escapes into the woods where she encounters a witch (Julie Walters). The witch gives Merida a magical pie that will "change" the queen in the hope that she will ease up on her strict ways.

The pie changes Elinor into a large bear, and Merida is forced to keep the king and all the clansmen from killing her mother as she searches for an antidote to the witch's spell.

In the end, Merida and her mom learn a few things about themselves, freedom, and consequences.

Brave is a beautiful film and certainly on par with other Pixar creations in terms of animation quality. I'm amazed at the beauty of the Scottish scenery and rich detail in the characters, especially Merida's red, curly hair.

Brave's story is somewhat of a departure for a Pixar film, staying away from some of the quirky humor prevalent in previous features, while opting for a more traditional fairy tale. One exception would be Merida's triplet brothers, who are devilish and crafty, much like the Madagascar penguins.

Either way, I think it's important to distinguish Brave as a standalone film, and not only how is stands up against other Pixar movies. It may not be the best Pixar ever, but it's definitely worth seeing. The message alone and sweet story of a mother and daughter coming to terms with their relationship makes Brave a story that children and parents can enjoy.


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