Brave

Brave

(2012)

Change your fate.

Disney and Pixar's Academy Award-winning animated adventure about Merida (voiced by Kelly McDonald), a Scottish princess who confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasties. A skilled archer and the spirited daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), Merida is determined to follow her own path.... More

She defies an age-old custom to marry the sons of the land’s lords: massive MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). But this inadvertently unleashes chaos and fury in the kingdom, forcing Merida to undo a beastly curse before it's too late.Hide

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Flicks Review

Brave won’t go down as one of the great Pixar films - it conspicuously lacks the innovative wonder of Wall-E or Up - but after the colossal misstep that was Cars 2 last year, it finds the studio back on steady, if not exactly earth-shattering ground.... More

For Pixar, the film’s biggest claim to some sort of 'leap forward' perhaps begins and ends with Merida (Kelly McDonald), the first lead female protagonist in their catalogue. She’s one of their strongest and feistiest, a plucky, tomboyish, bow-wielding princess who’s trying to defy 10th Century Scottish traditions by refusing her parents’ wish to marry her off to one of the sons of the three lords that rule the kingdom.

A little disappointingly, while its feminist themes and emotional mother-daughter bond provide sturdy storytelling anchors, Brave is more straightforward than one would expect from Pixar, the scope of the narrative rather limited considering the epic, inherently mythic feel of its period and environment.

The body-swapping slapstick that occurs after Merida’s encounter with a witch (Julie Walters) gives the film its flashes of inspired comic genius (the brothers fooling King Fergus by using a chicken roast to produce bear silhouettes is just perfect), and on a technical level, it’s difficult to fault. The action sequences dash and glide elegantly, the radiant bounce of Merida’s crimson curls rivals Disney’s work on Rapunzel’s flowing golden locks in Tangled (which this film plays like a darker cousin of) and the bear designs manage to straddle the line between fearsome realism and cartoony anthropomorphism. It must be said that though, Brave’s proportionally exaggerated Don Martin-esque male characters aren’t my favourite things Pixar has ever done.

Strangely, nothing in Brave comes close to matching the stunningly imaginative and heart-filling opening short film La Luna.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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I wanted to love this. Scottish accents! Directed by a woman! First female Pixar protagonist! Princess without a love interest!

The "progressiveness" hype reminded me a little of the "first Black princess" hype surrounding The Princess and the Frog. Unfortunately, while TPATF managed to stand on purely artistic merits - great songs, fantastic voice cast, ripping storyline, great banter - Brave's political correctness just made the film seem didactic and clunky.

The problem is, a feisty... More princess who doesn't want to do what she's told is hardly new. Back in the dark days of unenlightened Disney, Jasmine didn't want to be married off for political reasons; Ariel wanted to be free to live her own life; and both of them, in their own ways, found royal life constricting.

Now, personality-wise, I happen to find Merida far more likeable than Jasmine or Ariel; but story-wise, her plight comes across as far more cliched and heavy-handed. Princesses have their hair brushed painfully! Princesses wear tight clothes! Princesses have to be graceful! We get it. It's not new.

The odd thing is, Pixar seemed to be aware of this - it was lampshaded when Merida's father, pretending to be her, made a hilarious falsetto speech about wanting to ride free with her hair blowing in the wind, shooting arrows off into the sunset. So why did they let the clunky dialogue pass?

Other underwhelming features of the movie included the humour, the encounter with the witch (jarringly out-of-place; its allusions to modern technology belong in a Shrek movie, not the dark, mythic world that was most of the movie), and the triplets.

That said, Brave had its high points. The animation was incredible (Merida's HAIR!) - from the trailer I was worried it would look too similar to How To Train Your Dragon, but it was head and shoulders above it in terms of detail and lushness. The designs of the tapestries, clothes and castle were nice. The will'o'the'wisps, despite looking very much like luminescent jellyfish, were pleasingly eerie. The gentle, character-based humour of Merida's mother struggling against her newly feral personality worked well (in contrast to the potty-humour of the male characters); and the subtlety of Mordu's involvement was nicely done. Also, while the songs didn't impress me much during the movie, they've grown on me since - "Into the Open Air" is a particularly nice little piece.

So no, I didn't hate it. It was telling to hear my daughter puzzling over who Merida married (because that's what princesses do, right?!), and asking why she didn't wear trousers; so perhaps it was more mind-blowing to a four-year-old than to me. And that's fair enough. But it's a shame Brave didn't knock both of our socks off, like The Incredibles and Up - both of which films managed to portray strong female characters without coming across like an undergrad Gender Studies project.Hide


Brave is the latest film from the already legendary Pixar animation factory. However it breaks from the Pixar tradition in that it is about a Princess. Princesses have been the exclusive domain of standard Disney animation, and what a history they have had. With films such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and the Little Mermaid, there has nary been a bad film amongst them. However they all had an extremely similar formula, with the lead princess longing for a Prince Charming... More as if their life was defined by finding a male to look after them. Brave breaks this mould. The feisty Merida is not seeking a husband, quite the opposite in fact; she is a strong girl, who wants to find her own place in the world.
Brave is set in the Scotland during medieval times. Merida is the firstborn daughter of King Fergus and she has three rascally brothers. As the firstborn daughter, Merida has a lot of expectations placed upon her, not the least of which is to act like a lady. Ever since she has been a child Fergus has not discouraged her love of action and archery. So much so in fact that she is now an excellent marksman. Merida's mother Elinor is dismayed by this unladylike behavior and spends much time trying to rid this tomboyish behavior out of her.
However the time has come for the firstborn sons from the other tribes to come forth and stake their claim to Meridas hand. These suitors are all inadequate though (seemingly) ranging from the idiotic through to the inept. Fortunately there has to be a challenge in order to win our fair princesses hand. Predictably Merida chooses archery to be the challenge and much to her mother's disdain embarrasses her and the suitors by winning the challenge and trying to claim her own hand in marriage.
This sets forth a terrible conflict between Merida and Elinor, culminating with Merida running off and seeking to change her destiny. She finds herself lead to the cottage of a witch/woodcarver who is far too obsessed with bears. After gaining the potion from the Witch she returns home and gives it to her mother (under the illusion that it would change her mind), but fate has a different idea and transforms Elinor into a bear, a bear which is still the Queen. This leads to a great amount of comic relief, with Elinor trying to come to terms with her new bearish existence and her wish to be as ladylike as possible.
It is in dynamic that the film finds its soul. The gradual bonding of mother and daughter is heartwarming and although the film does have a "message" it is not heavy handed and is written with a deft touch.
The voiceover work from everyone is excellent; it is refreshing to hear some genuine accents for a change rather than made up brogues. Kelly Macdonald is charming and full of spunk as Merida, while Billy Connelly is his ever entertaining self. As has become standard with films from Pixar the animation is excellent with tremendous detail in every shot, from the Scottish Highlands through to the wonderful curls in the hair of Merida and her brothers. Watching it from a technical viewpoint the achievement involved here is staggering.
The film itself is well worth watching with more than enough in it for adults as well as for children. It is entertaining with a touching story at its heart. I hope that Pixar keeps generating more original material such as this rather than sequelising those stories already told. I wholeheartedly recommend this to every lover of film, especially to those who have ever been a daughter.
The version I saw was the standard version as opposed to 3D.
Preceding the film was a wonderful short called La Luna, which in itself was worth the price of admission.Hide


It was refreshing to see an animation with a female heroine with courage and heart. The Highland drawl and Scottish setting adds another cultural dimension to the Pixar films of past.

A thoroughly enjoyable movie that the kids loved, as well as the adults.

Definitely a successful arrow in the bow in my eyes - a hot flick!


BY Smilie52 nobody

Very good movie. The nature scenes looked real i.e. rivers, grass and rocks. I'd recommend it.


BY GrahamP superstar

This is a very enjoyable movie about a feisty redhead growing up and wanting her own life.The voicing fit the characters perfectly and it all works so that you are swept along with the story.
There are a few scary images in the film when the very young might close their eyes but it will be enjoyed by both the kids and the adults.
Great fun with never a dull moment.


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The Press Reviews

78% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • At its best, Brave accesses all the complicated feelings involved between a parent and a rebellious adolescent. Full Review

  • There's no denying the film's refrain that legends are lessons, but Brave is sadly remedial. Full Review

  • Pixar's 13th feature plays it safe and old-fashioned rather than risky and adventurous. Full Review

  • In addition to being fast, funny, and unpretentious, Brave is a happy antidote to all the recent films in which women triumph by besting men at their own macho games... Full Review

  • This isn't the NASCAR-fellating cash grab that is the Cars franchise, but it's still Pixar on preachy autopilot. Full Review

  • Brave offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren't so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair. Full Review

  • The animation studio's first film with a female protagonist, a defiant lass who acts as a much-welcome corrective to retrograde Disney heroines of the past and the company's unstoppable pink-princess merchandising. Full Review

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