Anthony's Film Review

Brave (2012)

Brave may not be one of the most original Disney/Pixar productions, but it still delivers a formula of entertainment...

When Pixar first entered the motion picture scene with Toy Story in 1995, the company solidified its reputation as a computer animation studio that mixed breathtaking 3D visuals and stories with real emotional depth. Although the Walt Disney Company was involved in marketing and distribution, it essentially stayed on the sidelines, letting Pixar do all the creative work. Naturally, many people wanted to see Pixar remain independent and maintain its creative freedom. Years later, the news became official: Disney purchased Pixar and made it an integrated part of the nearly 100-year-old animation studio.

Since the merger with Disney, Pixar still created some films that had their original flavor, like Toy Story 3 and Cars 2. However, in 2012, Disney/Pixar released Brave, a movie that may be stamped with the Pixar brand but definitely feels more like a creation from Disney's in-house animation studio. At a little more than one-and-a-half hours in running time, Brave essentially presents a familiar story that feels a bit rushed. That's not to say this is a bad movie. I still enjoyed it for what it's worth, and at least I didn't leave the theater feeling like my ticket was wasted.

For one thing, Brave tells a story in a setting not yet portrayed in a Disney or Pixar film: medieval Scotland. The images of the forests, mountains, and rivers, I must say, are definitely breathtaking and quite realistic. The main character is Princess Merida, who is not your ordinary princess. She prefers to do archery and ride horses than act like royalty, babysits three mischievous younger brothers, and has a father named Fergus whose huge body and loose personality belie the fact that he is a king. The only real sign of royalty is in Merida's mother, Queen Elinor, whose strict adherence to royal decorum and tradition annoys Merida, who wants to live more freely.

Merida reaches a breaking point when Elinor begins a ceremony for three suitors to win Merida's hand in marriage. The problem isn't just the fact that Merida doesn't want to get married, but also the three suitors are ugly misfits. Merida decides that the only solution to her dilemma is to use a magic spell to change the way her mother thinks and behaves. She obtains a spell from a witch and uses it on Elinor. Well, Merida does get her wish. As a result of the spell, Elinor changes... into a beast.

What ensues is a frantic effort for Merida to set things right again. She has a little more than day to reverse the curse, or else her mother will forever remain a beast. There are moments of danger and peril where Merida and Elinor come close to death. But there are also endearing moments where the daughter and mother slowly mend their relationship. I liked how Elinor has to get used to eating food in a nonroyal way, given her predicament as a nonhuman creature, while Merida acts as sort of teacher in a role reversal. On top of this, there is plenty of good humor to lighten up the movie, including a scene where kilts are used to create a makeshift rope, which solves a problem for a group of men but leaves them naked below the waist.

Otherwise, the movie ends on a predictable note. If you're the kind of person who expects a lot out of an animated film with the Pixar brand, you probably don't need to see this one in a theater. It's really good enough for a one-time rental. While Pixar does appear to be losing its steam from before, it still hasn't lost so much that it's churning out huge disappointments. I have yet to see a Pixar film that I definitely dislike. Brave may not be a courageous attempt to deliver a true masterpiece, but it hasn't fully shied away from what it has always done: produce an entertaining family movie.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Brave, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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