Brave already has a great review by Lisa Marie, check it out to get another insight into the film. One of the great things about the Shattered Lens is that even if a movie’s been reviewed once, another review can create a review as well.
Before Brave starts, Pixar presents their Oscar Nominated short film, La Luna, directed by Enrico Casarosa. La Luna is a simple piece about a little boy (Bambino) on a tiny boat who is taking on the Family Business. Sitting with his father and grandfather, they watch as a full moon rises high in the sky above them. Setting up a ladder, Bambino heads up to the moon, to find it littered with tiny glowing stars. The trio act as cleaners of the Moon. It’s a cute little story that for me, anyway, makes me smile when I look up at the Moon. I’m hoping Pixar maybe considers making a best of video with all their mini stories.
Brave is the story of Merida (brilliantly voiced by Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly MacDonald), a young princess in what appears to be Scotland, who is due to be married off to one of the children of her area’s neighboring lands. Granted, this isn’t something she’s looking forward to, as the wedding plans are being set up by her mother. Honestly, in watching Brave, I got the feeling that Merida really wasn’t into any of the Princess things she was supposed to be following (“No weapons on the table.”, “A princess is proper”, etc.), she seemed to just enjoy her freedom of being a young woman, of just living her life.
Brave marks the second film that wasn’t directed by one of the Pixar Majors (Pete Doctor of Monsters Inc., John Lassiter of Toy Story and Cars, Andrew Stanton of Wall-E, Finding Nemo and John Carter, and newcomer Brad Bird of Ratatouille and The Incredibles), the first being Toy Story 3. With all of the staff that Pixar has, it makes sense that eventually, the Pixar Babies would have to step up and try their hand at feature films – even if this means that Pixar breaks their streak of great animation and filmmaking.
If Brave is any indication, Pixar is in very good hands. Directors Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews carry Chapman’s story far better than Lassiter did with Cars 2. It’s the story of a daughter, her mother and the connection between them. It’s of wanting to follow your own path vs. the paths that others want us to follow, and it manages to do all of this effortlessly. Like Tangled, our heroine takes charge of her own path, even if it means stumbling here and there. What makes Brave even better (and what my Mom would personally enjoy) is that Merida, much like Drew Barrymore’s character in Ever After, doesn’t need any guys rescuing her from her situation, save for perhaps one key moment that doesn’t count only because it’s family oriented anyway. There’s a great sense of strength in the character.
When Merida decides to fight for herself in an Archery test to ward off the would be suitors, she gets into a huge argument with her mother (Emma Thompson), that ends up with some harsh things being said. Merida eventually finds her way to a witch who lets her change her fate. Like Disney’s Brother Bear, the change in question is that her mother is turned into a bear. With Merida’s father (voiced by The Boondock Saints’ Billy Connolly) swearing vengeance against the black bear that took of his leg, Merida and her mother have to both keep away from him as well as fix the relationship between them or else the mother will stay a bear, forever.
This is where Brave shines. Between the communications between the Mama Bear and Merida and the gravity of their situation, Chapman creates some great emotional opportunities for them. An added touch was the notion that the longer the mother stays a bear, the more she loses her humanity and becomes a real bear. I took this to be similar to someone suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s in a way, and that was where Pixar really got me on this one.
If there’s anything about Brave that I would change, it would be that there could have been a bit more back story on the legend that the mother told Merida (on the villain). I would have liked to know more about all of that, but in hindsight, the movie tells you all you really need to know, because the focus is still just on Merida and her Mother. There’s also just a hint of nudity, nothing terrible at all, but it’s a different route than other Pixar films have went. Additionally, kids may also find that the bear attack sequences may be a little too scary (at least the younger viewers might).
Overall, Brave’s a wonderful film and I’m ready to pick up the Blu-Ray the moment it comes out.