Monday, June 25, 2012


Princess Merida loves her archery in Brave
*** out of ****

Brave is a sign that Pixar is taking a break from being ahead of the curve in computer animated cinema. It's really no better than a movie like How to Train Your Dragon but that's not a terrible thing. I give Pixar a lot of credit for trying something new but if they really wanted to be daring, they could have scrapped the standard flow of comic relief. There aren't enough serious scary kids movies. This movie is a medieval fantasy set in Scotland starring a female hero in a story that has nothing to do with her finding a true love. It's a story about the struggle and bond between a mother and daughter and it's a good one, even if it feels kind of conventional. 

Sure, movies from Pixar tend to be more interesting than Brave, but if Brave came from any other animation studio, I wouldn't be so fast to make comparisons. If it were a Dreamworks movie, I'd be calling it their masterpiece. So I'll shut up about Pixar's legacy and pick on them when Monster's University comes out.

Brave has a gorgeously rendered atmosphere filled with castles, foggy moats and wooded areas. It also has a great lead heroine with flowing curly red hair that looks like a new technical achievement in CG rendering. It's filled with whimsical characters with cute idiosyncrasies, especially the young triplet princes who never speak a word but get into constant mischief. There's also a wonderfully rendered scary bear!

The plot is about a wild-spirited Princess unhappy with the fate chosen for her by her parents and finds a possible way to cheat this fate through dark magic. I was a little surprised that the trailer for the film didn't spoil the direction the film takes, which wasn't necessarily an amazing rout but an unexpected folk-tale-like passage.

As always, the voice cast is top-notch. Generally, this was a fun movie but not a magical experience.

Check out David Edelstein's review on Fresh Air.  

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