Movie Review: Brave / Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman / Screenplay: Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews / Starring: Kelly McDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson / Release Date: August 13th
Pixar make the move to the Scottish Highlands telling the tale of young princess and archery aficionado Merida (Macdonald) as she battles through her teens and against an ancient curse. As expected this film looks wonderful. The greens of the meticulously created trees and the purples of heather come together to create a lush and natural looking landscape. The textures in the tapestries and the clothes on the clansmen are expertly crafted. Pixar are gifted at telling stories in a beautiful way and they have created a female bonding story that should appeal to a wide audience thanks to the feisty leading lady, humour and heart that weaves its way through the film.
Merida is under pressure to be the perfect princess, and she tries to please her mother, Queen Elinor (voiced brilliantly by Emma Thompson) on this front, but when it is announced she must be betrothed to a Prince for the good of the clan her headstrong ways cause problems. This princess is not looking for a prince to be happy. In fact she relies on herself, and when an ancient curse is unleashed, leading her to go on a journey with her mother, she impresses her with her knowledge of the wilderness and survival skills. They both learn from each other and though at times Merida may think her mother awful, the audience is never given this impression. Pixar have their first leading lady, Kelly Macdonald and female writer and director, Brenda Chapman working on this project and it feels refreshing. Though the story does move to the usual fairy-tale workings in the second half Merida’s vivacious personality along with the strength of the swooping action scenes keeps the momentum going.
Merida’s relationship with the rest of her royal family is not so complicated and provides much of the humour. Her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) constantly tells stories of his battles with bears, and laughs at Merida’s mishaps. Then there are her younger brothers, the triplets, Harris, Hubert and Hamish who are muted mischievous characters and provide a slapstick humour. Merida herself is a wonderful character, her fiery, untamed locks mirroring her personality. Her warmth as a big sister and daughter shines through at all times as she struggles to do the right thing by her family whilst still trying to stay true to herself.
Brave delivers a message about the pressure women are under to fit into a mould and the often complicated mother and daughter relationship in an exceptional and magical way. Magnificent animation and thrilling moments including bear brawls and fast paced archery scenes (and even a horseback sewing moment) make this an invigorating and unexpected delight.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10