Sunday, July 29, 2012


Grade: B
Cast: Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connally, Julie Walters
Director: Mark Andrews
Free Access Granted

If you were a Scottish princess, wouldn’t using a spell to turn your mother the queen into a bear be considered an act of insurrection?

It’s hard to imagine that in real life Merida – the red-headstrong princess in Disney Pixar’s Brave – would avoid the tower for very long. In fact, consorting with a witch would be pretty risky – burning at the stake and all. Not to mention Scottish royalty has a particularly discouraging tradition of leaving life with one less head than they entered it with.

Ah, but that’s the thing about teenagers. You’re pretty much contractually obligated to forgive them. So is there any risk that Brave would turn into anything but a touching mother-daughter movie? The princess learns a little about life. The queen learns a little about love.

Life and love told amid a slight bedtime story. The queen wants to marry off her daughter in a proper manner. The tomboy daughter, who prefers archery to riding sidesaddle, has other matrimonial ideas. There’s something to be said for wedding for political alliances, but of course this isn’t the film that would say it. This is the modern age and we marry for love. There’s a wild king with a peg leg, rowdy clansmen in kilts, and a trio of mischievous brothers to keep the castle on its toes.

Even among Pixar’s successes, Brave stands out in the visual realm. Pixar’s genius is that it creates movies that look like they were filmed on location on a computer-generated planet and brought here. There’s not a “hey I’m watching a movie!” sense. It’s like visiting a real world. The dark hollows and fresh greens of Brave’s fictional Scotland are breathtaking and unique.

By the way, Brave extends the bow-firing trend among young female heroines. For parents already fretting the “should we buy our daughters a deadly weapon for Christmas?” decision, this is another arrow in the quiver.

I’d love to sit here and tell you a million interesting things about Brave. I think there are maybe 11 or 12, and I’ve said them all. It’s a particularly lovely round of craftsmanship, and it never loses your attention.

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