Brave, the new movie from Pixar is more than an animated fairytale for Scottish Bairns. Starring the voices of Billy Connolly (King Fergus) and Emma Thompson (Queen Elinor), the story has had high profile leadup thanks to the posters featuring the curly red locks of Princess Merida. This is quite a change of story for a typical Pixar movie flowing back more into a traditional Grimms Fairytale line than the Toys and Aliens approach with been used to in previous years.
The story follows the life of a young princess who has grown into young adult life enjoying a take on life inspired by her warrior father. For Merida there is nothing better than galloping on a Clydesdale stallion through the glen and firing arrows hither and yonder to their target. Into this story the Queen Mother is trying to thread some decorum and majesty in her daughters walk. This culminates as the clans bring forth each of their eldest sons as possible suitors. A competition follows to compete for her hand. It’s here that Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) decides to take the reigns of her own destiny and out shoots the competitors to win her own hand causing outcry at the highest levels.
As we all do from time to time its here that Merida runs from the decision makers and tries to take the easy option buying the favour of a witch to sort out her life for the cost of a badly chosen spell. Like the wishes we give to Genies, unspecific requests cause all sorts of problems in the fairytale land and its here that the story takes it wicked twist. Think of it this way. If your Mum turned into a Grizzly Bear is that going to help or hinder family relations. Actually the surprise is how both Mother and daughter take the situation as an opportunity to set new priorities in their maturing relationship. Its this aspect that gives Brave its best kudos and shows a helpful take on the transition many Mothers and daughters travel through the teenage years.
While the back story of a battle weary bear helps tie the story together it was really over the head of the target audience. I’m also included to believe it took the story too far into the ‘dark’ territory visually that would keep a number of parents from taking their younger children to a screening. As the story’s antagonist, the huge black bear enters sporadically into the timeline mindlessly bent on revenge. While the bear’s character does bring a sense of redemption the bear does keep even the average adult on the edge of their seat.
Brave features plenty of great onscreen humour and some superb lines from character voices like Julie Walters and Robbie Coltrane but for me this wasn’t one of Pixars greatest triumphs. The movie probably had what John Carter didn’t; a superb marketing line-up so that you felt a connection with Princess Merida and wanted to see how this young woman overcame her life challenge. It’s a fun viewing and for most 8 to 15 year-olds its going to be a fun ride. The level of animation quality won’t get much better than Pixar but we can’t expect to tell what looks like a Fairytale and expect the story to fall into formula on its own.
Reviewed by: Andrew Pitchford