Pixar’s ‘Brave’ Sort of Timid
Pixar, a company name synonymous with groundbreaking cinema, enters it’s latest animated feature into the summer fray of blockbusters. This time around with 'Brave', the company is trying it’s skilled hands on what appears to be a fairy tale.
Although given it’s relatively ambiguous pre-game advertisements, I doubt any viewer would have anticipated that. To say 'Brave' stands in the shadows of its predecessors is an understatement. Probably unfair for that matter. With the most recent of Pixar’s creations being the films 'Up', 'Toy Story 3', and 'Wall-e', one would assume that the Animation Studio is incapable of making a flick of even mediocre quality, let alone one that isn’t extraordinarily innovative. Oh wait, I forgot about 'Cars 2'. So should all of you. However, 'Brave' does in fact fall into that rare category
'Brave' tells the story of Princess Merida, a young scottish princess with explosive fiery red hair. Merida is daughter to jaunty and jolly King Fergus (Voiced perfectly by Billy Connolly) and the elegant but strong willed Queen Elinor (exquisitely characterized by Emma Thompson). Oh, and she also has younger triplet brothers, Huey Dewey and Luey. I don't’ think those were their names, but it honestly doesn’t matter. They’re meant to run around and look adorable and add nothing to the film ‘cept their bare backsides for the toddlers to giggle at and interrupt the flick while I watch it.
Merida is a wild child, and yearns for outdoor adventures, archery, and the like. But her royal duties come into conflict with her free spirit thanks to her mother the queen, and she must marry. Her mother is insistent on this, and Merida can see no other way around this, but to make a deal with a witch, poison her mother, and turn her into a bear. It turns into a bit of a buddy cop flick at this point.
Pixar’s strengths are in plain sight, with vivid and lustrous animation, wonderful voice acting, delightful charismatic new characters, and lofty ideas, but it lacks a sense of direction with the story. The ingredients are quality, but somebody really dropped the ball in the kitchen. That may have been a result of there being more than one chef. The picture changed directors a few times during production, and flavors change a lot throughout. Is it a coming of age pic, is it a hero’s quest? What’s with all the thoughtful supporting cast and no expansion on them? The Witch character, for instance, would have been a lot of fun as an antagonist. She even had a snarky talking Raven! What a waste! I could go on, but the truth is, the film is many things, just not cohesive.
Ultimately , 'Brave' works well as throwaway farce. Kids will dig it (as they loudly confirmed at the viewing I attended) and people will enjoy the quality of the animation, the various scenarios, and will laugh at most of the jokes or the accents...whatever floats your boat I guess.
If you’re a Pixar fan, who may have been moved by the awe inspiring escapism that are some the most recent wonders, you will leave feeling surprised and maybe disappointed. But, hey, Pixar raised the bar for itself. And by all rights, even if this film IS of mediocre quality, it is only by comparison to the company’s films that came before it. And if Pixar’s rarity is mediocrity and not its gems; well it is safe to say audiences will see brave new worlds again soon.