When critiquing a film like Brave, it’s difficult to analyze it without bringing Pixar’s previous efforts into the mix. This creates an interesting problem, since they have achieved perfection on not just one, but several occasions. Because of this, some may look at Brave as a step back for the company, or regard the film as a “safe” release. While it certainly isn’t as strong, or have as much depth as past Pixar releases, Brave still works as a touching fairytale in the same vein as all the Disney classics.
Kelly Macdonald voices Merida, a strong-willed princess with fiery red hair, and a penchant for adventure. When her mother (Emma Thompson), tells her that she must pick a suitor to marry, Merida rebels against her mother’s wishes and runs away into the forest, only to find something that will shape her fate, and change her life forever.
The first thing one notices about this film is the fantastic animation. In true Pixar style, they once again produce breathtaking visuals that once again raise the bar that they themselves set. While the lush forests and detailed castles looked great, the hair animation on the characters, and on Merida specifically, is what most will be staring at.
As with every Pixar movie, the characters that accompany the animation are what bring this film together. The relationship between Merida and her family feels genuine, and is a joy to watch. Her father, voiced by Billy Connolly, is arguably the most entertaining and lovable character in the film. His adoration for his wife and children is apparent from the beginning, and while his wife favors tradition, he seems to be more focused on being happy and having fun. Merida also has three younger brothers, who don’t have any dialogue, and yet speak volumes through their expressions and animation.
It’s unfortunate that Pixar has set the bar so high with animated films, that when they attempt to make a more traditional, straightforward Disney tale, it feels like there’s something missing. That is the case however, with Brave. The film is much more grounded, and slightly less ambitious then what we’re used to seeing from Pixar, but it’s still leaps and bounds above most of the Dreamworks animated pictures.
So Brave is not rife with metaphors and topical themes, who cares? Sure, it’s a little light on plot, but it’s still an amazingly crafted animated feature. Whether you have children or not, it’s still an easy recommendation, and a must-see for the summer season.