Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman; Starring: Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
IMDb Plot Summary: Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse
Visually, Brave is a magnificent film. Its ancient Scottish landscapes are breath-taking and the film flaunts some welcome advancements in fabulous-red-hair-rendering. But while the exquisite misty forests and grandiose castles in the backdrop suggest a sweeping Celtic fable, the tale we actually get is disappointingly banal. Brave’s story of a young woman seeking to be an independent, free-wheelin’ lass seems very familiar, with The Little Mermaid being one suspiciously similar film that comes to mind. Consequently, you’re likely to be three steps ahead of the plot at any given point.
In my mind, this conventional plot could still have made for a lovely fairytale-esque creation, if it were not for the film’s insistence on trying to steal some cheap laughs. It leans pretty heavily on un-inventive slapstick, and sadly there are only so many bear-related collisions one can take before it gets rather annoying! The constant goofiness also pushes most of the characters into caricature territory, as any moments of genuine tenderness and honesty tend to be interrupted by some needless, though neatly timed, fart or belch. Balancing humour and pathos is usually a Pixar strong suit, but here the silliness dampens the sense of wonder that this movie so needs.
Still, you have to give the writers some props for tackling some darker narrative elements and for choosing to explore the mother-daughter relationship, as opposed to the well-worn father-child dynamic. This is a likable movie, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t take its task slightly more seriously.
PS. Perhaps it goes without saying nowadays, but I would also advise that you don’t waste your money on the 3D version. I’m considering filing a lawsuit against my local cinema for daylight robbery.