Movie Reviews

‘Brave’: Plays it safe

By Wang DexianMovies - 08 August 2012 12:00 AM

‘Brave’: Plays it safe

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Streaks of commercial success are often held in high regard. Pixar’s run of movies from 2007 to 2010 ― ‘Ratatouille’, ‘WALL-E’, ‘Up’ and ‘Toy Story 3’ ― is perhaps unparalleled for being a perfect blend of storytelling for all ages; entertainment for the kids infused with deep themes for adults. The thing about streaks is ... they come to an end. And Pixar’s did last summer, when ‘Cars 2’ disappointed.

So the big question coming into ‘Brave’ is, has Pixar lost it? Well, the answer, thankfully, is no. ‘Brave’ centres on Princess Merida, the red-haired girl with an independent streak that’s as fiery as her hair. Her father, the jolly King Fergus, is a warrior who is content to let his queen, Elinor, handle most things about Merida. The prim and proper queen is a stark contrast to the free spirited Merida and, of course, conflict arises when Elinor arranges for Merida’s betrothal to one of her father’s allied clans, which Merida steadfastly refuses to. Merida then sets out to stop herself from being betrothed, at the cost of the people around her and the kingdom. And, that’s as much as we can reveal.

‘Brave’ scores very well in many departments. Merida is the first ever female protagonist in a Pixar film, and the film does well to paint her in a good light ... making her sympathetic even though it would have been rather easy to have her come across as whiny and entitled instead. The film already looks great with Merida’s dramatic red hair popping out in 3D. The movie’s graphics have delivered some of the most realistic environments in an animated film so far; its lush medieval feel stands out against the bright Scottish characters of the film and there’s plenty of great comedy all around, especially from the goofy King Fergus and his three mischievous twin sons, who serve as much of the film’s comic relief. The tone of the movie does come across as somewhat more childish and traditional than Pixar’s previous efforts, resembling an old school Disney type movie chock full of messages for the kids to absorb.

But all in all, ‘Brave’ is a well-made motion picture that really thrives on its characters, and explores the complex dynamics in a mother-daughter relationship. It shows hints of the sophistication and ambition of previous Pixar efforts, but after the twist in the plot, it ultimately settles on a safe and kid friendly direction. There’s nothing wrong with that but might make this movie rather forgettable compared to Pixar’s library of excellence. Even so, ‘Brave’ is easily the best animated film of this year so far.

‘Brave’ opens in theatres 8 August 2012

Dexian or just Dex if you have an inability to pronounce Chinese names, is a fervent film lover who's known to read up on the most inane pieces of cinema trivia just so he has something to talk about when he's drunk. When he's not watching something, he can be found reading other useless Wikipedia articles on things like Nebulaphobia.