HT Schuyler: Brave Review

Posted: August 1, 2012 by htschuyler in HT Schuyler's Movie Reviews

Rated PG for frightening scenes and rude humour.

Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell (co-director).

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connelly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson.

Now, I consider myself a fan of Pixar, they’ve made some films that I really love (Toy Story (1-3)), and some films that I really like (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and some films that I think are really overrated and tend to annoy me greatly (Finding Nemo), so when I heard about Pixar’s new movie, Brave, I was curious. It wasn’t until I saw the first trailer that my curiosity turned to caution, and as the films released date neared I lost all interest for the film and ultimately was indifferent to it. So with these happy thoughts, let’s dive into my review:

Brave tells the story of young Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald), the heiress of a medieval kingdom in Scotland run by her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), who resents her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) for not letting her do what she wants with life and is determined to undermine the Queen’s plan to find her a husband. After a fight with her mom, she runs off into the forest and finds an old witch (Julie Walters), who gives her a “spell” to change her mother, therefore changing Merida’s fate, so she doesn’t have to be a Princess. Things end up taking a beastly turn and Merida must find a way to undo the spell within the obligatory time limit and save her mom, and also her kingdom. Voice acting all around is very good, with a few stand outs but overall everyone does a solid job at creating interesting characters and carrying the story along. Kelly Macdonald voices the lead, and creates a very strong, confident character, and adds lots of depth and emotions to Merida, making her likable and interesting. Emma Thompson plays the stern, strict yet still caring and loving mother, and her and Macdonald play well off each other and create a realistic relationship. Billy Connolly’s character King Fergus is used mainly for comedic effect, and was mainly just playing for comedy relief, which actually annoyed me at times, but Connolly does a good job with the character and has some good jokes now and then. He was actually one of my favourite characters, mainly due to Connolly’s performance. I didn’t even recognize Julie Walters as the witch until I saw her name in the end credits, and she does a great job with the character, playing a humorous and also slightly menacing character. Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson all play leaders of different regions of the Kingdom who’s sons are competing for Merida’s hand in marriage, and despite them also playing mostly for comedic relief, they all did a good job with it.

The Good:

The first thing one notices about any Pixar films is the amazing animation, and in Brave, it’s honestly nothing short of incredible. Yeah the people don’t look like normal human beings, but the scenery, and the extreme detail that was put into every shot was breath taking. There were scenes that looked so realistic I had to remind myself that it was an animated film, it’s that good. But what good is fantastic scenery if the story and actions surrounding it are dull and bland? Well, luckily the story is fast paced and interesting, the action scenes are surprisingly really well done, and the comedy works…most of the time. People may criticize the plot for not being that unique or pushing any boundaries, but the story is 100% times more interesting and confidently told than say a story about a clownfish looking for his son. Also there’s no obnoxious sidekick character…thank God. It’s a really sweet, interesting and even sometimes scary story about finding yourself and showing off your bravery, sending all the kids the right messages and shit.

Oh, and as annoying as Merida’s younger brothers look in the trailers, they thankfully do not speak, making them much more tolerable.

The Bad:

This movie is getting a lot of attention for being the first Pixar film with a female main character, and while the film does a great job at making her a very likable, interesting and strong protagonist, this unfortunately means that all the male characters are reduced to moronic comic relief. I’m fine with having funny characters, but having comedic characters is one thing, but having all the male characters in the movie be morons just seems wrong. King Fergus himself, who is talked up to be this fierce warrior who is a strong leader and tough hero, is portrayed as a goofy, weak character who only does crazy, stupid things. I’m all for strong female leads, but that doesn’t mean all the male characters have to be idiots. There are also a few “comedy” scenes which just don’t work, and the film can come off as obnoxious at times with its morals and messages.

In Conclusion:

Despite its faults, I really like this film. In fact, I was actually amazed at how much I enjoyed this movie. Its strong leads, amazing animation and good, wholesome story and great action scenes make this one of Pixar’s stronger films. It may not be its most ambitious, but it’s still a really sweet movie with enough imagination and heart to satisfy most movie goers. Recommended.

7.5/10

Comments
  1. ianthecool says:

    Good point with the males as idiots. I didn’t really pick up on that.

    • htschuyler says:

      Thank you. I know it’s a common theme in Disney movies, but here it felt a little too extreme.

  2. r361n4 says:

    Agreed about the male characters, but if you look at a lot of the male characters in past Disney Movies (Other than the main love interest/prince) it’s mostly the case across the board that the male characters are buffoons.

    My biggest problem with Brave is that it felt much more like a Disney movie than a Pixar movie, and while I like Disney movies just fine there has always been a special place in my heart for Pixar that I really hope isn’t vacated by their recent takeover. The main thing that worries me is that Disney has now planned two other sequels (Monsters University and Finding Nemo 2) and there’s a big chance that they could turn out like Cars 2 rather than the Toy Story sequels. Time will tell I guess…

    Btw, I’m a huge Pixar fan but while I still like Finding Nemo a lot I do agree that it felt the “least magical” of all of their previous work. Just curious, have you done a review of it? I’d love to hear your reasons for not liking it

    • htschuyler says:

      I know what you mean about the sequels, and maybe that’s another reason I enjoyed this movie, just because of its originality. Also I would agree that it feels more like a Disney movie than a Pixar movie, and this is a rare case where I don’t mind that.

      Finding Nemo: Annoying and unlikable characters (especially Nemo himself), failed attempts at comedy, obnoxious plot and mind-blowingly frustrating side characters (I’m looking at you Dory, as much as I love Ellen DeGeneres, I hated this fish). My complaints and dislike of the film comes solely from my personal preference, and I acknowledge and respect that a lot of people really love this movie. I guess I’m just sort of a hard ass when it comes to talking fish movies :P Who knows? Maybe Finding Nemo 2 will change my mind.

      I still have the utmost respect for Pixar, and have yet to lose faith in them :)

  3. JJ Silf says:

    Screw you, HT (and PG). I liked “Finding Nemo”!

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