By: Emily Kellas
Rating: 7 out of 10
When word of Disney/Pixar’s newest film, Brave, started passing through the movie community I was thrilled to hear that it would take place in the land of my heritage, Scotland. Though it tended to focus on the cliché aspects of Scottish culture such as bagpipes, kilts, Haggis and more, it also showcased the beauty of the land, and the strength of the country. Directed by Mark Andrews and starring the voice talents of Kelly McDonald, Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly, Brave was an entertaining film that the whole family can enjoy, yet not the best in the Disney/Pixar filmography.
Scottish Princess, Merida (McDonald), is a wild free spirit whose love of the land and archery trumps any desire for love and marriage. When she discovers that an arranged marriage will be decided for her with one of three suitors from nearby clans by her mother Queen Elinor (Thompson), she decides something needs to change. Seeking to change her fate Merida discovers that maybe change is the last thing she needs.
Brave is visually spectacular. The animators at Pixar made the Scottish Highlands come alive. Each shot of the natural beauty felt like you were placed directly in the scene. The colors were vivid and over exaggerated, perfect for the animated genre.
Technical aspects aside, the story could use some further development. I always love a strong female lead, and Merida was just that. So with the combination of a headstrong heroine and my homeland I was anticipating an epic film. Although not bad as animated films go, Brave didn’t compare to either my expectations, or prior Disney/Pixar films. I won’t give away the entire story since Disney had done a fairly good job at not disclosing much in the trailers or on the web but the story gets weird.
I’m all for twists, and in animated films I believe you can do just about anything, but it felt like the story shifted in the middle of the film, and the pacing felt completely off. The audience went from cheering on Merida as she tried to fight tradition with her bow and arrow to… well… something totally different. Both parts of the film were well done but somehow felt odd when placed together. The pacing is what really threw me off. The beginning of the film seemed to be working towards one kind of ending and was paced accordingly, then the twist occurs and everything seems to speed up. Through the help of musical montages they were able to pull it off for the younger audiences, but I feel like the older audience members will side with me on the pacing issue.
With that said, Brave was entertaining, funny, beautifully shot and yes I’ll admit it, I may have cried, just a little, at the end, but honestly when you see it you’ll understand why. Pathetic? Yes. Am I ashamed? Never. I often use my dad as the judge of animated films, because if he doesn’t like it or is not amused, you can hear him snoring from the back of the theater. But Papa Kellas was awake and alert throughout the film, and even celebrated it’s correct use of Scottish culture.
Therefore, Brave is a film for people of all ages. And if it does nothing else but to add another notch in Disney/Pixar’s belt, it has given a country, which many overlook, a chance to shine. And shine it did. If you’re anticipating the next Finding Nemo in Brave, you will be disappointed, but if you are looking for pure entertainment then go see Brave. It will have you speaking in a Scottish accent for days, Ah shoods ken (I should know).