The second Pixar film on my list, Brave is a Scottish-set fairy tale that feels different from all previous Pixar projects. It’s a fine film to be sure with beautifully animated scenery that is alternately lush or barren, often extremely realistic, as well as lovely Celtic music and an exciting climax. Nonetheless, when people list off Pixar films (Toy Story, The Incredibles, WALL-E), Brave will almost certainly be one of the last to come to mind.
It’s an excellent movie, but it’s a strange mix of inspiration and unoriginality. The young hero/heroine straining to be themselves under the oppression of an overbearing authority figure has been overused in plenty of films, from The Sword in the Stone to The Little Mermaid to Ratatouille. The fateful bulls-eye that splits a previous arrow is borrowed directly from the Robin Hood stories. Plus, the plot twist of a bear transformation was already used in Disney’s earlier Brother Bear, as was the recycled line “I don’t speak bear.” Considering Brave was an original fairy tale, I wonder why Pixar didn’t think of something other than a rehashed bear. Brave was originally to be titled The Bear and the Bow (a better title, in my opinion), but it might as well be Mother Bear.
On the other hand, it’s refreshing to see a strained parent-child relationship that doesn’t call on the parent alone to change. Everything is set right only when Merida owns up to her mistake and accepts that all of this is her own fault. The part with the woodcarver witch has the funniest scenes, and the buildup to the transformation is nicely handled. While the Scottish accents were previously applied to the Vikings in How to Train Your Dragon, here the Scottish brogue is more than just a way of talking but a way of life, along with colloquialisms like “dinnae” and “gammy,” as well as realistic highland games.Also, not many films have a touching mother/daughter relationship with both parties being at fault and sympathetic at the same time.
Brave may not be Pixar’s best, but it is a gorgeously rendered addition to their string of hits. Ignore the uninventive elements, and you’ve got another Pixar classic.
Best line: (King Fergus, to Elinor) “Pretend I’m Merida; speak to me…. [in a girly voice] I don’t want to get married, I want to stay single and let my hair flow in the wind as I ride through the glen firing arrows into the sunset.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 6 Visual Effects: 10 Originality: 3 Watchability: 6 TOTAL: 37 out of 60
Next: #250 – Citizen Kane
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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