For a very long time it was impossible to ignore the publicity campaign for Pixar’s latest animation feature and its fiery-haired protagonist peeking out posters, billboards and magazines attracting potential audiences and their parents. Originally meant to be called The Bear and the Bow, Brave is set in the Scottish highlands and tells the story of young tomboy/princess Merida, who as the voiceover of the trailer insistently informs wants to change her fate.
As this is the first time Pixar approaches the realm of fairy tales, it is obvious that they are being very careful with what was recently strictly Disney territory. Instead of the incredibly colourful watercolour-like landscapes traditional for Disney princess films, Brave has turned to darker greens and blues and other pastel tones for the magical land of Scotland. This is a bit of a change for the studio, which animated the shiny surfaces of Cars and Cars 2, Gusto’s kitchen from Ratatouille and the multitude of toys in the three Toy Story films. It is also a very good example of 3D.
…Merida gives us an overview of her everyday life…
According to what has become a Pixar tradition, the characters are charming and win their audience the moment they turn up on screen. Although Merida (Kelly McDonald) is the first female lead and the first princess for a Pixar film, she is completely lovable with her red hair flashing against the magical forest. What will win over even more viewers is her unconventionality as a princess. She not only can’t fit in a sleek dress but also prefers to practice archery, swipe desserts from the kitchen for her three little brothers and, obviously, place her weapons on the table. She is definitely no damsel in distress as she fires arrow after arrow. The rest of the characters include the mother Merida constantly defies, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), the fun-loving king Fergus (Billy Connolly), the evil witch (Julie Walters), the various clansmen and Merida’s three little trouble-making brothers.
The storyline is clear from the first act of the film, where Merida gives us an overview of her everyday life including her relationship with her mother. As with every Pixar film, the plot revolves around a single concept, which in this case is the change of fate through the renewal of the bond between mother and daughter. For a short while this bond takes the wrong turn when Queen Elinor is turned into a bear as the result of a spell, which Merida requests from a witch hidden in the forest. The film doesn’t deliver as much humour as it wants to while Elinor struggles to retain her human mind but behave like a bear. Instead most of the funny situations are created by King Fergus and the rambunctious crowd of men in tartan following him. These are further complicated by the pranks of Merida’s brothers.
…despite being slightly predictable and very cautious…
The end of the film isn’t much of a surprise when everything is magically fixed and the family is reunited. Brave promised a more surprising plot twist than there actually is in the film. This is most likely because of the sudden decision for Mark Andrews, who previously worked on Cars, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, to join Brenda Chapman to co-direct. Nevertheless, despite being slightly predictable and very cautious as Pixar’s first fairy tale, Brave is still incredibly fun and exquisite animation feature, which is worth seeing.