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“Brave” – Review (POSITIVE)

June 25, 2012

Pixar’s 13th feature film is certainly one of the most fascinating entries in the entire Pixar collection. Not only is it Pixar’s first lead female voice narrative, it’s also the studios first entry into the realm of fantasy/fairy tales. Mark Andrews, an animator/storyboard artist from the company  makes his feature directoral debut along side Brenda Chapman, who is also the first female director on a Pixar feature. The teaming brings us a story about the path to ones destiny, how they change, and how they better their destiny by going on the right path, this this case literally.

Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida (Kelly McDonald) defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. He mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), has made it her mission in life to control Merida’s life from the day she was born to womanhood. She only wants the best for her daughter, to grow, marry and become the proper Queen their country of Scotland deserves. Merida however is more like her one-legged cheeky father King Fergus (Billy Connelly); loves danger, loves excitment, and is an excellent marksman with a bow and arrow. One day, Merida comes into contact with a strange old witch (Julie Walters) who will granted one wish for her. However, the spell intended to ‘change’ her fate, changes the ones she love into a horrific beast. Time is not on Merida’s side, she must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo the beastly curse, so that she may make her final mark in the kingdom she lives in…

After coming off the cash cow sell out that is “Cars 2”, it’s nice to see Pixar back telling personal stories again. Nothing is more personal or poignant than a tale between a mother and daughter. The films strengths come from the mother/daughter dilemma. The first half of the film starts out as that typical rebellious mother/daughter friction; mother tells daughter what to do, how to act, how to talk, continuous montage of daughter rolling her eyes in disgust and frustration. It was beat for beat what you’d expect, then the film takes a some what different turn, the spell aspect. I didn’t see this coming, in fact many people didn’t see this coming, it was well hidden from the previews. I didn’t even expect a witch to show up in this film. This is the first time in a long time where a movie literally surprised me from ACT II on. I guess you could argue that it borrows a bit of some “Brother Bear” stuff, but this movie succeeds in its overall message and idea, where “Brother Bear” failed miserably.

Pixar is known for having great humor in it’s films, even the lackluster jokes of “Cars 2” did make me laugh. But here, the jokes have snappy timing, and fantastic delievery from it’s vocal cast. Billy Connelly & Craig Ferguson have some of the best riffs throughout the film, but the major scene stealers of the film go to Merida’s talk-less wee devil triplet brothers. I spoke to my brother the other night and told him that those brothers reminded me so much of he and his twin, funny enough, the feeling was mutual. I love it when a movie does that it’s viewers, by connecting them on a whole other level.

“Brave” may not be the strongest entry in Pixar’s collection, it’s story may seem all too familar, it does hit the right notes to tell a genuine story. I for one noticed in the packed theater I was in that many other mothers with their kids were wiping tears away by the end. When a movie reaches out to it’s audience in that respect, you cannot but help giving major props to the talented artist behind such an ambitious project. I felt my heartstrings tugged at the end, during the credits, when the filmmakers decided to remember their friends & mentor Steve Jobs, Jobs would certainly be proud to this day.

GRADE: B+

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