Welcome back Pixar!
I’ve made it known that I’m not the biggest fan of Cars 2, Pixar’s effort from last year. But over the years they have generated such good will on my part that they always get me to come back for more – I have seen every single Pixar film in the theaters, and will continue to do so, unless they constantly drop the ball.
That moment hasn’t happened for me.
And Brave brings us an amazing new world, with new characters, and their first female lead, Princess Merida.
Each film has seen a leap in design, characters, landscapes, fabrics – the creation of entire believable worlds. The hair work on Merida alone in this film must have been an amazing nightmare, it’s layered, curly, askew, and gorgeously rendered.
Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) is a rebellious, determined and out-spoken young woman, but her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson) is teaching her to be a proper princess, and one day a queen.
Her father, Fergus (Billy Connolly), indulges her in her less ‘lady-like’ pursuits, horse-riding, rock-climbing, and archery, while her three younger brothers, the triplets, or the wee devils, cause havoc about the castle.
Elinor and Fergus have arranged for the other three clans to come to the castle to submit their sons for betrothal to Merida, who upon learning this, argues for her freedom, her own life and choices.
All Merida wants is to live her own life, and all her parents want, is for Merida to do her duty for them and Scotland.
Merida storms out atop her horse Angus, fleeing in anger and frustration after a huge blow out with Elinor in which neither of them listen to the other.
Stumbling into a stone circle, she is led by a series of will-o’-the-wisp to a tiny cottage where a witch, sorry, wood-carver (Julie Walters) agrees to help Merida change her fate.
At its heart, the film is not only about our responsibilities, but about our relationship with our family and parents, in Merida’s case the mother/daughter dynamic. You can see all the things that Elinor wants for Merida, that she is doing things from a point of caring, even if it’s confined to the social structures of the time. Merida, is also completely understandable in her actions, she wants to live her life, make her own choices.
The film is directed by Mark Andrews (who previously did the short One Man Band), Brenda Chapman (Prince of Egypt) and Steve Purcell, and the three of them work together to craft a wonderful film, filled with laughs, tears, and real emotions (yes I had a couple of teary-eyed moments, but I tend to really get into my movies).
And that is the beauty of a Pixar movie, you forget that you are watching a series of computer-generated images you are watching a character, a story, and an emotional arc unfold.
I don’t want to give away too much of the film away, because that was all I knew going into the film, and then was delighted at the twists and turns that the film presented. (Though I’m sure you could find complete story breakdowns if you want to – but do yourself a favor and don’t – it was so much more fun that way).
The film is gorgeous, fun, and a return to the Pixar I know and love, strong characters, a good story with a message (without being preachy), and enough to keep both the big kids (being me) and the younger ones entertained (though there are somethings that may be too scary for younger viewers).
Scotland is brought to digital life, and looks amazing! Patrick Doyle works up a fantastic score, and perpetual Pixar good luck charm John Ratzenberger makes his token appearance.
Is it the best of the Pixar films?
But it’s still red-headed and shoulders above most of the other animated fare that is out there.
Brave is a fun, fanciful, magical tale, and the short beforehand, La Luna, is priceless, and down right enchanting.
I’ll be seeing this one again.
Have you seen it?
What’s your favorite Pixar film?