Saturday, June 30, 2012

Movie Review: Brave

The two main characters of the movie: Merida and her hair. 
Everyone knows Pixar is good. Their newest film, Brave, certainly doesn’t disappoint, although neither will it blow anyone’s mind. Another excellent addition to their store of heart-warming tales about adolescence, Brave is a beautifully animated film that manages to tell a story that is actually occasionally original. In other words, it’s a Pixar movie.

Like all Pixar movies, the main character is the animation, which is incredible. The main character’s hair is a work of art in its own right, taking Pixar’s top animators nearly three years to perfect, the first six months of which were spent figuring whether realistic curly hair was even possible. The new computer program was named Taz, after the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, and was immediately used for most of the rest of the hair in the film.

Add to this the phenomenal landscape shots, and the human characters almost take second stage to the amazing animated world they inhabit. The movie certainly delights in having its characters romp through the forests, mountains, and glens of the Scottish landscape that the movie attempts to capture. Scenes at the beginning of the movie include the young heroine Merida (Kelly Macdonald) riding, practicing her archery and horseback riding at the same time, and finishing by climbing a rocky cliff near a waterfall, and the animation in all of them is almost as breathtaking as the scenes would look in real life.

I'd love to see a movie about these guys.
The story is sweet, focusing primarily on the mother-daughter relationship between Merida and her mother Elinor (Emma Thompson) and although it shares a lot in common with the plot of Freaky Friday (unfortunately), there are occasional moments of freshness. Unfortunately, the main plot is focused on sometimes to the exclusion of the extremely interesting, though underdeveloped, side characters. A tense relationship between clans is often played off simply for comic relief, and the main antagonist’s storyline is almost all explained in side remarks or left for the audience to figure out.

What is it, Plot Fairy? Time to do plot-related things? 
Although some of the side characters are fantastic, such as Merida’s father (Billy Connolly), and the leaders of the clans who have formed an uneasy alliance (played by Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane, and (believe it or not) Craig Ferguson), some are less interesting. Merida’s triplet younger brothers and their antics are hilarious if you’re a child at heart, but if you’re an old grumpy-gills like me, they’re mostly just irritating. And one side character is not a character at all, but literally one of those things in video games that tells you where the next plot point is, which I fondly nicknamed the Plot Fairy.

Luckily, Pixar clearly spent the time they didn’t spend on writing a world-changing script on a truly fantastic score by Patrick Doyle. One song at the beginning, “Touch the Sky,” sung by Julie Fowlis, sets the story off on a superb note, and “Learn Me Right,” written by Mumford & Sons and sung by Birdy, finishes the movie nicely. If you don’t feel like going to see Brave, I would urge to buy the soundtrack anyway, it’s phenomenal.

Overall Review: Like

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