So I just went to see the new Pixar film Brave, which people want to be Pixar’s return to form after the disaster of Cars 2. I was really looking forward to the film since it felt interesting that Pixar was doing it’s first female protagonist and that the film is set in Scotland (making it more historically accurate than Braveheart) and I really enjoyed this film.
Firstly the animation is gorgeous, I’ve been up to the Scottish Highlands myself and the film brilliantly captures the feel of certain areas of the Highlands and it really shows that Pixar did a lot of research in the Highlands in order to get the proper feel of the surroundings for all the scenes in the woods. It also feels that the main challenge in this film for Pixar is wood, mainly arrows and splinters which can be seen through the archery scenes throughout the film. There is also the fact that this contains one of the best pieces of animation explaining a character in any film through one scene, when Merida rips her dress in order to fire a bow it’s a great show of Merida rejecting the traditional values and ideals she was brought up with through her mum in order to embrace her own freedom, brilliantly done Pixar. Going hand in hand with the animation is the music with some of the scenes with very little dialogue throughout the film being told through the animation and music, Patrick Doyle’s score for the film makes great use of traditional Scottish instruments (although it is eerily similar to Doyle’s score for How To Train Your Dragon) and the songs in the film also have a traditional folk feeling, which isn’t surprising considering that Mumford and Sons wrote one of the songs.
The voice acting and the characters are great as well with a brilliant decision being to hire British actors for the roles (except for the traditional role for John Ratzenberger) and I think it was a godsend that Reese Witherspoon could not voice Merida as Kelly Macdonald does a brilliant job, mixing in a great sense of arrogance and irresponsibility throughout the film in perfect contrast to the traditionalist values of her mum Elinor voiced by Emma Thompson who just through the voice and animation seems to command this respect and everyone seems to be both respectful and fearful of her. The hiring of great Scottish comedic talent (Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson and Kevin McKidd) for the people in power was a brilliant move by Pixar as it had this feeling of incompetence amongst the leaders when they think they are doing everything perfectly. Julie Walters also appears in the film as a witch and she has some great comedic timing and plays her character straight despite how ridiculous she is.
There are some problems with Brave though, the plot can be considered cliché, the message in the film feels a little bit forced in some point, in some places Merida can be a bit unlikable and some of the humour is a bit hit and miss, mainly near the end of the film and the bits with the little brothers, although Connolly, Coltrane, Ferguson and McKidd are funny throughout the film.
Still this is a really good film, really fun, great voice acting and some of Pixar’s best animation and music. If you feel that Pixar has gone downhill since Cars 2 or are a fan of Pixar films, I recommend that you go and see Brave.
My Rating: 4/5