Monday, June 25, 2012

Movie Review of Disney-Pixar's "Brave"

I saw Brave this past weekend and thought it was a great movie although I didn't get that "magical" feeling like when I first saw The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast or Aladdin in theaters. I remember having a similar feeling when I saw Pocahontas and Mulan, something was missing.

The elegant and sophisticated Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson) attempts to teach her feisty and rebellious daughter, Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), how to be a proper princess but Merida wants nothing of it and would rather spend her days blazing through the woods on her trusty steed Angus or shooting targets with her bow and arrows.

The time comes when Queen Elinor and King Fergus (Billy Connelly) decide Merida should marry for the good of the land and they hold a competition with the trophy being the princess' hand in marriage. Merida enters the archery competition and wins, embarassing the suitors and her mother. Queen Elinor scolds the girl and throws her bow into the fire. Merida, hurt by this gesture, flees the castle on Angus and heads off into the woods where she falls into a circle of mystical stone carvings. The magical will-o'-the-wisps lure her deeper into the forest to a woodcutter's cottage. The woman she encounters is in fact a witch (Julie Walters) and Merida asks her to cast a spell that will change the queen. The witch does as requested but not without consequences (I won't tell you to avoid spoiling the plot twist). Merida must then hastily make things right or let her family suffer forever. In the end, she changes not only her own fate but the fate of her loved ones and country as well.

Brave is an epic adventure that will captivate adults as well as children. I will give a fair warning for those of you with toddlers/smaller children. There is a lot of dialogue and it's not a laugh-a-minute type of movie. I noticed quite a few smaller children being escorted out by parents due to the inability to keep their attention. Also, if your children are wary of frightening scenes, please be advised there are quite a few times when a bear's gaping mouth and sharp teeth are full-screen. Several toddlers began crying during these moments as well (I can only imagine what the reaction was for the audience watching the 3D version in the theater next door to us).

On the other hand, for those of you with slightly older children, it does have a mix of action-packed scenes as well as crude or rude humor that kids love. Not to mention Merida's mischievous and dessert-loving triplet brothers, Harris, Hubert and Hamish. They are absolutely rotten and adorable at the same time.

Brave is set in the Highlands of Scotland, making for breathtaking scenes so realistic I kept forgetting I was watching a computer-animated film. The animation is visually satisfying from the details of Merida's copper coils to the rich landscape. There is a moment when the princess is atop a mountain drinking from a waterfall and you just think to yourself: "How is this not real?". I loved the culture of this film, that is one thing you can always count on, Disney did their homework. From the tradition of the Highland games to the clothing to the cuisine, you are immersed in medieval Scotland.

I give this film 4 out of 5 Mickey heads on the Disney movie scale.
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