In the world of computer animation, it seems these types of films move leaps and bounds in technique in a span of two years time. Comparing the detail, graphics, and color range grows more and more fantastic year after year. It causes one to pause and wonder where it will be in a decade or so. But with such advancement and focus on visual appeal, will plot be sacrificed? In some movie cases yes, it becomes more about eye candy than plot. Pixar has worked very hard to steer clear of that potential fault (with the exception of the letdown Cars 2). For Brave, the world-renown computer animation studio has worked hard to a vivid and magical world, but also a storyline that is intriguing and heartfelt, albeit stale in very brief moments.
The film is set in Scotland in the Highlands during their rough and rugged time in history. Merida is a fiery and opinionated young princess who, while her mother’s expectations demand elegance and grace from her daughter, wants nothing more than to improve her archery skills, explore the world around her, and become free to do as she pleases. Merida and her mother clash constantly over every little part of Merida’s life, which reaches a boiling point when her mother is forcing a betrothal on her daughter. Out of blind anger and recklessness, Merida makes a choice that will change the course of her life forever if she does not set things right.
If you were to mute a movie and just go off of visuals, Brave is certainly the perfect eye candy to “Ooh!” and “Ahh!” at. The scenery is breathtaking and the attention to detail does not go unnoticed. Even the curls and shades of Merida’s bright red hair is heightened with the contrast of the green surroundings she has. The voice acting in the film is bright and believable. Billy Connolly as Merida’s father, King Fergus, is one of the best supporting cast members Pixar has created. He can be strong and protective one moment, and in the very next scene be laughing and singing with so much testosterone it would make the Dos Eqqis man look like a schoolgirl. Emma Thompson plays Queen Elinor, and she balances sternness in her voice with loving undertones. She is definitely one of the more complex characters of the film, but by the end of it, even children in the audience can see her loving intentions behind her decisions and plans for Merida. Her three young brothers provide comic relief throughout the film without uttering a word. Their hijinks and silliness caused all children in the audience to giggle constantly. Hopefully this film will not produce too many mischievous devils.
While so many great things came out of Brave there were some setbacks to it. The first 40 minutes of the films were predictable and not anything revolutionary. There were moments where I questioned if Pixar really thought long and hard about each scene and how the dialogue would play out. After those 40 minutes, it turned into a Pixar film. Normally these sorts of standards would be high for a film, but coming from such a powerhouse studio that seems to have moviegoer’s heartstrings, they need to know when they are doing it right or wrong. Finding Nemo was a father and son tale, Brave is certainly one for mothers and their daughters. It paints a story that any parent and child know: you love the other person very much and want the best for them, but listening to them is vital to that relationship.
Brave is Rated PG for some scary action and rude humor. There is a more frightful scene involving an evil bear that can be very scary to a young child, but this is a tame Pixar film given that the setting is a war-ridden Scotland. Any fighting or swordplay is done not out of violence really, but to just have some male roughhousing. Aside from the scary bear, this film is safe for a child of any age.
I give Brave a four out of five arrows. Merida may be able to shoot a perfect bull’s-eye, Pixar shoots just barely shy of it, but still is a high winner in the archery contest. This film is certainly a Pixar piece not to miss.