By: Lawrence Foster
Rating: 9 out of 10
From its first feature film Toy Story in 1995, Pixar has been the benchmark for animated feature films.
Think that is just my opinion? While my opinion should be more than enough, here are some facts and statistics to back up the above claims.
Pixar films have made more than $7 billion. Pixar has won 26 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards and three Grammy Awards.
Aside from Cars 2, which was the black sheep of the Pixar family critically speaking, a Pixar flick is about as safe a bet as there is in the movie industry and its most recent offering, Brave, is no exception.
From its stunning visuals and magical story to its plethora of memorable characters, Brave is a movie that literally anyone can enjoy.
Normally I delve into the plot first, but this film is too gorgeous to not dive right into the scenery. The first thing that will wow audience members is the fiery red mane of the films main protagonist, Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald). After 2010’s Tangled I thought I had viewed the pinnacle of animated locks. I was wrong. Merida’s flowing red hair is breathtakingly real and seems to have a life of its own.
The rest of the visuals are right on par with Merida’s hair. Whether watching Merida’s ascent to drink from a waterfall or her Katniss-esque ride through the woods with her trusty bow in hand, Brave’s amazing animation makes Merida’s world believable and stunning.
Much like video games, graphics can only take a movie so far. If the story is lackluster (see Cars 2) the film will suffer the wrath of critics, like me. Again, Brave delivers in that department.
The film opens with a young Merida receiving a bow for her birthday. After an errant shot into the woods, Merida goes to retrieve it, only to have a giant bear attack her. She is able to escape unharmed, which is more than her father Fergus (Billy Connolly) can say.
Fast forward about a decade and Merida has three scene-stealing brothers and rebelliousness that makes her endearing to the audience. Merida’s mother Elinor (Emma Thompson) is being training the teenage girl in the ways of a lady, but Merida’s heart is most happy riding her trusty steed Angus and letting loose a few dozen arrows.
Merida begrudgingly goes along with the lady-lessons, but when she finds out that her parents are setting up her betrothal, she decides she has had enough.
When the three clans headed by Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane), Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd) and Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) come to offer their first-born sons as the groom, hilarity ensues.
Amid the guffawing, Merida decides that the competition to determine the winner (i.e. her future husband) will be archery.
At the competition, Merida defies her mother and makes a mockery of the three sons, which sets everyone on edge.
Later that evening, Merida and her mother have a nasty argument that leads to the princess running away. As she rides Angus into the night, she happens upon a stone hedge-esque rock formation and in turn follows some magical whisps into the forrest.
The wisps lead her to an old cottage that is home to a wood carving witch (Julie Walters). Merida persuades the witch to help her with her betrothal situation and the way that is dealt with is unique and is why I won’t spoil it here.
Brave proves that Cars 2 was an aberration and that Pixar still has the magic touch. It doesn’t matter if you are entering school or 20 years into retirement, Brave can, and should, be enjoyed by everyone.