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Review: Brave

Jun. 21, 2012by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Merida (Kelly McDonald) is a fiercely independent Scottish princess, forced by her inflexible mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) to choose a suitor from the three clans that help her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) rule the land. Desperate, she seeks out a witch for help, but soon regrets her decision.

REVIEW: Those of you who were bitterly disappointed by the surprisingly manic CARS 2 will be happy to know that BRAVE is indeed a return to form by Pixar; a studio whose filmography has been jam-packed with some of the best films of the last decade and a half, animated or otherwise. More than WALL-E or UP, BRAVE echoes the classic Disney formula, with a young, headstrong princess anchoring the film. However, it's how they subvert the formula that really makes BRAVE interesting.


Rather than have this turn into another TANGLED (not that there was anything particularly wrong with that), the Pixar team takes BRAVE into unexpected territory- and I'm going to try an keep this as spoiler-free as possible (other reviews have given away the big twist). Be aware that the trailers from BRAVE, with a quick exception, only feature scenes from the first half hour of the film, and after Merida's visit with the witch (Julie Walters), BRAVE winds up being anything but your standard princess in jeopardy film.

So- don't do in expecting all of the Disney archetypes. There's no handsome prince, or love story. Rather, the heart of the film is Merida's complicated relationship with her mother- which plays itself out in a way that suggests that perhaps Merida's unflinching individuality, which in itself is a good thing, also hides a selfish streak that she'll have to overcome. In fact, the title itself- BRAVE speaks to a far different kind of bravery than the type one might think. Merida doesn't have an army of foes to conquer, and there not even any real villains to speak of here (not even the witch qualifies). Dare I say it, but like WALL-E, this Pixar outing even gets a little cerebral.

However, this is still a fun Pixar movie through and through- and while there's more subtext and substance than the typical animated adventure, there's also a lot of fun to be had. McDonald makes for a spunk, intensely likable heroine, and one that will likely win over a lot of young viewers. She's modern in that she's not defined by her love for a handsome prince, and is quite capable of rescuing herself- thank you very much. Emma Thompson brings some heart to the film as the conflicted Elinor, essaying a Scottish accent that's convincing enough that the friend I was with had no idea it was her until I pointed it out.


There's also a lot of laughs to go along with the heart though, with occasional cut-ins to a subplot featuring Billy Connolly's laddish king contending with an out-of-control drunken party at the castle, alongside his fellow, soused lords, voiced by Kevin McKidd (who also voices his unintelligible offspring), Robbie Coltrane, and Craig Ferguson. And yes, a la BRAVEHEART there's a lot of drunken Scottish mooning (no undies under the kilts folks)- giving us the first opportunity to see how Pixar animates a big old butt.

Other than naked asses, the other area where BRAVE really breaks new ground is in the quality of CG animation, with Merida's flowing red locks being a real knockout. The 3D is also refreshingly well-conceived, although the story is good enough the extra eye-candy isn't a must. While BRAVE maybe didn't quite blow my mind like WALL-E (one of the best sci-fi films of all time), or leave me drowning in a puddle of my own tears (the first five minutes of UP), BRAVE is yet another piece of top-notch entertainment from Pixar.

Source: JoBlo.com

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11:27AM on 06/25/2012

EH...

Shoulda been called "Brother Bear 2: Mamma Attacks"
Basically same movie with Pixar animation. Of course, everyone will orgasm because Pixar's name is on it. I for one, am not brainwashed by them, yet :)
Shoulda been called "Brother Bear 2: Mamma Attacks"
Basically same movie with Pixar animation. Of course, everyone will orgasm because Pixar's name is on it. I for one, am not brainwashed by them, yet :)
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9:07PM on 06/24/2012
I really enjoyed this film and can agree with the points made in this review. What I will say is that the short before the film begins this time is amazing and one of Pixar's best. I thought that it was very clever.
I really enjoyed this film and can agree with the points made in this review. What I will say is that the short before the film begins this time is amazing and one of Pixar's best. I thought that it was very clever.
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3:11AM on 06/22/2012
I cannot express how excited I am for this movie!
I cannot express how excited I am for this movie!
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-6
3:04PM on 06/21/2012

looks incredibly dull

surprised by this review, unfortuntaely what I've seen from the trailers has just been so lifeless and offputting I can't even find it being worth giving a shot to, at least in it's theatrical run. Maybe I'll catch it on TV one day but honestly a big old PASS for me. Too bad, the concept art had my hopes up... everything else unfortunately did just about the exact opposite.
surprised by this review, unfortuntaely what I've seen from the trailers has just been so lifeless and offputting I can't even find it being worth giving a shot to, at least in it's theatrical run. Maybe I'll catch it on TV one day but honestly a big old PASS for me. Too bad, the concept art had my hopes up... everything else unfortunately did just about the exact opposite.
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+1
2:53PM on 06/21/2012
Definitely seeing this one, if only for the character designs and the Scottish background. I love when films of this nature focus on a unique culture (much in the same way How To Train Your Dragon focused on Viking culture). But I am also quite glad this is a great movie. Was looking to check out both this and Abe Lincoln, but I might just forgo the latter, as that has been getting some pretty awful reviews. Guess I'll just wait to see what you guys have to say about it.
Definitely seeing this one, if only for the character designs and the Scottish background. I love when films of this nature focus on a unique culture (much in the same way How To Train Your Dragon focused on Viking culture). But I am also quite glad this is a great movie. Was looking to check out both this and Abe Lincoln, but I might just forgo the latter, as that has been getting some pretty awful reviews. Guess I'll just wait to see what you guys have to say about it.
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9:15AM on 06/21/2012
This is actually the 1st positive review I have seen. All the rest have said that film is great in the 1st part but once the twist happens it becomes a total little kiddy film and gets predictable and kind of boring. I'll wait for DVD for this one. To me Pixar is at it's best when both adult and kids can enjoy it. This is strictly a kiddie film from what everyone else has said. They also said the trailers are VERY misleading and the film is NOT what it appears to be.
This is actually the 1st positive review I have seen. All the rest have said that film is great in the 1st part but once the twist happens it becomes a total little kiddy film and gets predictable and kind of boring. I'll wait for DVD for this one. To me Pixar is at it's best when both adult and kids can enjoy it. This is strictly a kiddie film from what everyone else has said. They also said the trailers are VERY misleading and the film is NOT what it appears to be.
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6:25AM on 06/21/2012
Ah, Pixar. You are the apple of my eye...
Ah, Pixar. You are the apple of my eye...
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4:29AM on 06/21/2012

sounds interesting

I like hearing there is a twist..this movie just seemed predictable and I had nothing drawing me to it. I haven't been very impressed by Pixar for a while but I always like the check em out, but I was considering skipping this one. I'll see it now. Although, still debating on the 3D as I didn't really like Toy Story 3D. Also..."WALL-E (one of the best sci-fi films of all time)"? To each his own, I guess.
I like hearing there is a twist..this movie just seemed predictable and I had nothing drawing me to it. I haven't been very impressed by Pixar for a while but I always like the check em out, but I was considering skipping this one. I'll see it now. Although, still debating on the 3D as I didn't really like Toy Story 3D. Also..."WALL-E (one of the best sci-fi films of all time)"? To each his own, I guess.
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6:41AM on 06/21/2012
Hang your head in shame. Hang it.
Hang your head in shame. Hang it.
2:27AM on 06/21/2012
This is cool to hear! I was hoping it would be good! I wonder what the short before it is? I'm surprised there hasn't been any mention on this site about it, or did I just miss it?
This is cool to hear! I was hoping it would be good! I wonder what the short before it is? I'm surprised there hasn't been any mention on this site about it, or did I just miss it?
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6:43AM on 06/21/2012
You missed it. It's 'La Luna'.

[link]
You missed it. It's 'La Luna'.

[link]
12:56AM on 06/21/2012
Good to hear you liked this, Chris. Lots of people are writing this off as too similar to How To Train Your Dragon. What jumped out at me from the review was that there's no love story, and that it focuses on the relationship between Merida and her mother. An early piece of concept art shows Merida struggling defiantly as her mother brushes her hair, and that's an interesting dynamic. Looking forward to it.
Good to hear you liked this, Chris. Lots of people are writing this off as too similar to How To Train Your Dragon. What jumped out at me from the review was that there's no love story, and that it focuses on the relationship between Merida and her mother. An early piece of concept art shows Merida struggling defiantly as her mother brushes her hair, and that's an interesting dynamic. Looking forward to it.
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