Brave entertains but lacks enchantment
BRAVE Starring (the voices of) Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane. Screenplay by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi, directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell. 93 minutes, rated PG (scary scenes). Showing at Reading Cinemas Porirua, Light House Pauatahanui. 3D format reviewed.
When it comes to Pixar movies, I’m used to having my heart tugged, warmed and even broken, but about 30 minutes into Brave it sunk a little bit.
It’s a key scene where plucky Scottish princess Merida rashly has a spell cast to ‘‘change’’ her mother, to soften the queen’s expectations of how a princess should behave and to stop an arranged marriage with some dork from another clan. What she gets is a very different mum – as in a different species – and movie-goers realise they’re essentially in for a ‘‘body switch’’ movie.
Perhaps I was disappointed Brave wasn’t turning out to be the epic its trailer and setting suggested – I do love a good fantasy quest – but the realisation the remainder of the film would be limited to cute anthropomorphic antics and Merida trying to undo the spell was deflating.
Don’t get me wrong, Brave is a solid, entertaining picture with beautiful animation.
And I can’t get too cranky at it when the trailers preceding it are for Mada- gascar 3 and Ice Age 4 (or was it 5?).
We’re getting an original story but Pixar has set its bar very high.
When they come up with a story that is only a little bit better than whatever talking animal movie a rival studio is repackaging that month, it’s hard not to feel cheated.
In the past, Pixar has defined itself by attempting what other studios wouldn’t dare, by widening our eyes with imaginative story telling.
The intention and framework is there in Brave, endearingly centred on a mother-daughter relationship, but the magic is missing.
Too many of the characters are sketches or caricatures and the humour has fewer layers than we’ve come to expect from the creators of Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Finding Nemo.
The 3-D version is easy on the eye and involving, though too dark for my liking. As is traditional with Pixar releases, a short film precedes the movie.
I recommend making it to your seat in time for La Luna – it displays more imagination in seven minutes than Brave does in 90.
Free spirit: Daring Princess Merida gets the job done as the young heroine in Brave but the picture’s appeal is more limited than we’ve come to expect from Pixar Studio.