Let me start by saying that I’ve seen better animated films in recent years. Mainly those that were designed to amuse the kids, but also went out of their way to cater for the adult members of the audience. Two examples that spring to mind are: Despicable Me and Megamind. (Plus, even Rango had references to the Spirit of the West, i.e. Clint Eastwood. Kids wouldn’t have understood who the heck he even was, obviously).
That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy this particular movie. (Pixar and Disney’s latest offering). Brave seemed to combine the customary stunning visuals and amusing asides we expect from Pixar, with the more traditional storyline that we expect from Disney. (DreamWorks’ Shrek was set in days of old, but somehow had a less traditional…and more entertaining…feel to it, for me).
The historic setting, stunning scenery and Celtic soundtrack all helped to set the scene for this more classical tale. This Scottish yarn is set in a mythical era, when men were rugged and young ladies were…well…young ladies. The story follows princess Merida’s growth towards womanhood and her impending betrothal to one of the leaders’ sons from three clans which are allied to her father, King Fergus. (Excellent vocal performance by Billy Connolly for Fergus btw).
Since her earliest years, Marida has been a keen archer and horseman. (Horse-woman would make me sound like a…horse’s ass). The thought of being wedged into refined clothing and forced to marry a boy she’s never even met, is more than she can bear. This causes the plot’s main tension, twixt mother and daughter. Which results in Merida consulting a witch to try and change her mother(‘s mind). Confusion ensues and Merida’s up against the clock, to try and rectify the havoc she’s inadvertently wreaked.
If you have a daughter (or in my case granddaughter) who’s a self confessed tom-boy, then I’m guessing she’ll identify quite well with the Merida character. (Not your typical Disney Princess thankfully). Tho’ with the selection of suitors on offer, who can blame Merida for her inclination to graciously decline?
If you don’t have any kids or grandchildren to share the entertainment with, I’d recommend you borrow somebody else’s. I can think of worse ways to spend an afternoon. At only 100 mins, it’s not too big an investment to entertain the little ones and there are a few chuckles to be had here’n’there. As usual, there’s a pretty impressive line-up voice-over-wise and that certainly adds to the enjoyment.
Big Yin Billy Connolly as the larger-than-life King Fergus; Emma Thomson as the love of his life, Queen Elinor; Kelly MacDonald as Merida; Julie Walters as the Witch; Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall; Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin; Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh.
Most impressive animation sequences for me: The opening panoramic shots, homing in on the castle; Merida’s escape from rising early and watching her manners, as she rides off at top speed, shooting targets; the encounter with the witch; plus the simple sequence where she lies crying on the bed. (Simply for the way her hair falls gently down around her. She may have curly ginger hair, but at least the animation was clever ;o)
My favorite scenes include: when Merida and her mother return to the Witch’s cabin and encounter the cauldron answering service. (“If you’re the red headed Princess, select potion number 3”); the walk back into the castle after the King and his allies have been chasing the bear and are forced to climb down off the roof.
The kids favorite scenes (judging by the giggles): all scenes with the young princes (especially when one of them sneezes…pauses for effect…then does a follow-up sniff); the aforementioned scene with King and allies climbing off the roof (naturally); plus, the young princes’ relentless torture of the maid (and particularly diving for the key).
Not my favorite kids movie, as I say. But it is Pixar and I always appreciate their sense of humor and stunning CGI animation sequences. (Nice little dedication to Steve Jobs at the end too…ahhh). Guess I’d give this one a 3.5 out of 5. (And the accompanying featurette, La Luna, 5 out of 5. What an absolute gem that was). Certainly worth a look-see in my humble opinion and I could imagine it’ll be a nice collectable when it comes out on DVD/Blue-ray. (One the kids will watch again and again).
I just hope Disney don’t take their usual dumb-ass decision of bringing out a sequel. (Why must they always spoil it)?