‘Brave is good, but…’
That sentence has come up a lot for me since watching the Pixar film. I found it somewhat troubling that I couldn’t explain adequately to myself quite what it was that bothered me. There’s something about Brave that rubbed me the wrong way and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
There were problems with the film, yes, but there were parts about the film that redeemed a number of these issues.
Billy Connolly, for one, makes an excellent Scottish king and Pixar’s staple of excellent animation really does his voice acting credit. Emma Thompson was, as always, great. Much to the chargrin of Ronnie Barker I imagine. Another Nerds Raging member (Juliette) mentioned something about Craig Ferguson. I’m not going to give any comment on that just to get under her skin. Bwahahahaaa.
I really should mention that most of the time I felt as if the Scottish accents were altogether a little too contrived. At first I’d thought that only Connolly’s accent was true, and I was right for the most part, but thinking about it now it was really where one or two of the other cast members spoke that it irritated me in that regard.
There were so many genuinely funny moments in Brave. I’m serious. I was giggling right alongside the myriad of (expected, let’s be honest) children that were sprinkled around the cinema. As always, Pixar’s animation was spectacular and really lent itself to the comedic moments that were generously dotted around the film. The choreographing skills of Pixar’s animation department still know what’s what.
Yes! Pixar’s animation skills are still not to be trifled with! What particularly impressed a number of the people whom I visited the cinema with was the level of detail in the hair. I know how that sounds. Of all the things to gawk at, why the hair? Okay, yes, the heroine was a redhead so that’s a reason, but I’m talking about the level of detail. It looked real! To some extent it was actually quite hypnotising; every now and then you’d find yourself peering into the depths of some of the fairer character’s hair and wondering if it was lifted from photographs.
I have a slight issue with the wit-wood carver. She looked a cross between the witch from Spirited Away and Old Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. Was Pixar making a nod towards Studio Ghibli or were they taking inspiration from the character’s movement?
I nearly said that the w-wood carver looked like the old man from Ninja Scroll, but I don’t think you fellows would forgive me for that. Besides, the bug eyed concept of older people in Japanese animation appears to be a common thing.
Pixar still know how to animate cute and adorable children. Merida as a child was quite honestly the most cringeworthy child I have ever seen. So cute, d’awwwwwwwww!
So what was it that was bothering me the most about Brave?
It’s a Pixar movie, but altogether the tale treads Disney paths the entire time. Yes, I realise that it’s a Disney film, but Pixar are known for the likes of Toy Story or Monsters Inc. family blockbusters that literally the entire family enjoys and has an altogether more wholesome and valuable fable that rings with everyone and allows almost anyone who watches it to connect and bond with the movie. Brave didn’t have that core that’s so beloved of Pixar. Instead it seemed like another warm’n’cuddly Disney version of a Brothers Grimm tale with a handful of creepy moments (Mor’du’s ancient keep, for example).
That was the ultimate disappointment for me. I expected the depth of Pixar’s established bardic fables but in the setting of a medieval Scotland. Anyone who knows me will tell you the raging nerd on I get for history and celtic history, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed the prospect of what I had expected.
Yet to the Disney end Merida doesn’t come out like the typical Disney Princess archetype. Either Pixar salvaged that much out of design to save her from that fate or they did it by pure accident for the story, but then again going by today’s standards it seems almost like copy-paste job of teen angst and schoolyard feminism. The major theme of Brave was the relationship between mother and daughter, and on another level the expectations that a parent would have for their children. Merida, in her duty as princess under tradition’s sake, would marry into one of the Scottish clan’s ruling family. Whereas this sets the plot for the entire movie, it also greatly underlines the already rebellious attitude of Merida and her tomboy personality. From the moment of the film’s announcement that she is to be funneled into an organised marriage right through to the moment, um, the family can’t BEAR (dodging spoilers here), Brave appears to just be about teen angst and rebellion against parents and less about the freedom of choice that one should have in life.
Yet the movie was good. Great compared to what has been coming out of studios lately. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the shortcomings. So much so that I contradicted myself above and it took me a day or so to realise what it was that displaced me about it.
[The original article can be found here: http://www.nerdsraging.com/2012/09/02/brave-movie-review%5D