Brave (3D) Review
August 24, 2012
The long awaited new release from Disney and Pixar, Brave, is finally here. A welcome edition to the family, it's not quite the same as the much loved predecessors; but certainly the finest animation this summer
More than half way through the year, the last film on my Most Anticipated Films of 2012 is now out in cinemas. Disney Pixar’s latest endeavour, Brave, has been subject to intense marketing and has received very mixed opinions from critics, despite them uniting to agree on one thing: Merida, the latest edition (and first Pixar character) to the Disney princess collection, has amazing hair. Dubious about how a cast of Scottish voice actors would be received internationally (Scottish sporting romance Gregory’s Girl is well known for being re-dubbed so that the American audiences could understand their accents); I took the plunge and went for 3D. Just for the hair more than anything else.
Merida (voiced by Kelly McDonald) is no ordinary princess. Groomed by her mother Queen Elinor (the marvellous Emma Thompson) for marriage and to be a ‘proper’ lady, Merida rebels; favouring archery and adventure over house making and manners. Determined to change her destiny, and consequently her future; Merida is guided by Will-o’-the-wisps to a witch’s home in the forest. Chaos soon descends upon the kingdom, and only the brave Merida can undo what has been done.
I know what you’re thinking. The hair, is it really that impressive? By Jove it is. Animated perfectly and beautifully; Merida’s red locks are one of the most impressive elements of Disney’s Brave. To enable Pixar to render the 1,500 locks of curls, they developed two pieces of software to produce the realistic movement and waves. As per all Disney films, the rest of the movie follows suit and is wonderfully animated. Aesthetically more like Tangled than Monsters Inc., Brave sadly lacks the unique sparkle that defines a Pixar film. That is not to say it’s bad; it is still excellent. Perhaps a little more grown up than its Pixar siblings, Brave is subtly beautiful.
Watching Brave it is very easy to make comparisons with Miazaki’s masterpieces; Spirited Away (Sen to Chihrio no Kamikakushi). The wood-carving witch (voiced by Julie Walters) in the forest who Merida visits for her life changing spell is in evocative of Zaniba and Yubaba; the twin witches who might look the same are polar opposites personality wise. Although this elderly witch is portrayed as neither good nor bad, more scatty and forgetful; she is still a welcome edition to the cast.
Merida, the first female Pixar protagonist, is a fantastic role model for young audiences. She’s fiercely independent, seriously stubborn and fights for what she believes in. Thankfully, Merida also apologises when she realises she’s in the wrong. Relationships play a big part in Brave; especially between the princess and her mother. Delicate and surprisingly complex, the story thrives at being as emotionally poignant as WALL-E and Up although, thankfully; didn’t reduce me to tears to quite the same extent.
Brave, previously titled The Bear and the Bow, is delightful if a little predictable at times. Far more impressive than other animated titles this year; it is easily one of this summer’s highlights. With the lovely La Luna short before it, and a typically Pixar stinger after the credits; Brave captures the magic of Disney without quite the same distinctive glow. Be sure to pick out the lovely Apple references throughout, as the film is touchingly dedicated to Steve Jobs; their partner, mentor and friend.