Brave is the latest outing from the prestigious Pixar Animation Studios directed by Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews. It features Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly and Julie Walters and is shown in 3D in selected cinemas.
At the earliest age, a Scottish princess discovers a passion for all things warrior upon receiving a bow for her birthday from her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly). Years later, the young Merida (Kelly Macdonald) has come of age with an unwanted marriage arranged through a tournament (and aimless squabbling) rapidly approaching. She desperately wants to escape her predetermined fate to pursue her real dream of becoming a warrior more alike her father whilst bucking tradition in the process. But in order to alter the adverse opinion of her protective mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), she takes a dangerous spell (literally) that will seemingly change things forever…
The first 20 minutes of Brave are a joy to watch, exemplifying the studio’s devotion to their material. They then ask us to take a leap of faith which could’ve easily come off as cheap and clumsy, and though it is a little obvious from the start the point they’re trying to make, it’s a leap that I for one was willing to take. Unfortunately the whole film cannot run like this, with a significant portion before the climax feeling forced along by half-explored and rushed ideas. Through much of the film there is enough humour to satisfy young and mature audiences alike, yet this middle section seems to drag without the habitual minor character gags. Luckily, their trump card is Merida – a fully realized character (with amazing hair) we want to follow on this journey. Having watched the film in 3D, I- no, wait. Hang on. Having EXPERIENCED THE MIND BOGGLING 3D EFFECTS I can only say that it has the same effect as it did in Up: none. A final comment from me would be that it could be some of Brave’s issues resulted from the replacement of ex-Dreamworks director Brenda Chapman with Pixar’s own Mark Andrews. This is a wild speculation, but it could explain some of the story’s more undeveloped themes and superficial nature.
Yes, Brave does rely on the deus ex machina a little too much at times and yes, the story does feel somewhat lazily done compared to their superior back catalogue, but Brave still oozes this quirky sort of charm that perhaps stems from its love for its environment, or Patrick Doyle’s dynamic folk score or the fabulous casting choices. Maybe it was all of these things, or that I was unsure what to expect, or that the journey to the multiplex has almost always led to disappointment this year – I don’t care, I enjoyed Brave a great deal and y’ cannae go wrong going to see it yerself.