Monday, February 4, 2013


I have been a fan of Pixar since their very first movie, Toy Story, came out in 1995. Indeed, much like Harry Potter, they were an integral part of my childhood and I believe the only films from them I haven't seen are Cars 1 and 2 (talking cars creep me out). 

As I grew older, I realized there was a reason for that - there was something special about Pixar movies that eluded the more traditional Disney animations: their stories were designed to please not only children, but adults as well. That is particularly visible in The Incredibles (2004), WALL-E (2008) and Up (2009) which have important plot points designed to speak to a mature audience. With that in mind, I didn't hesitate to go see Brave, their latest animation which won a Golden Globe for best animated feature film.

Brave follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson), massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources - including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers - to undo a beastly curse before it's too late, discovering the meaning of true bravery.

As always with Pixar, the animation was superbly done - the scottish highlands are beautifully drawn, and the characters are great (did you see Merida's hair? Isn't that just great?). The music as well is amazing (Mumford and Sons anyone?) and sets the tone for the story perfectly.

This was the first time Pixar ventured into the fairytale realm, and gave us a Disneylike princess. I wasn't very worried about that, being somewhat fond of the genre, but I was very glad that Brave was closer to Mulan than to Cinderella, with a strong leading female character, who isn't afraid to fight for what she wants.

The plot is a little more complex than we might be used to in an animation, and I've heard people who didn't enjoy the movie call it everything from "patchy" to "nonsensical" - and my response is that if you are unable to follow two or three different plotlines that come together in the end, you should try watching it again, in slow motion so you catch all the dialogue.

On the contrary, I thought that the film had surprising depth considering the audience it was intended to attract, as well as a lot of humour. It wasn't as original as Up or WALL-E, I agree, mostly because it draws very heavily from both the traditional stories of the young girl fighting an unwanted marriage and defying tradition, and the one of the girl warrior taking up arms in place of a man.

But despite all that, I absolutely loved it. Everything came together perfectly, and even if it isn't as groundbreaking as some of Pixar's previous works, it is a very pleasant movie, of the kind you can watch again and again without ever getting tired.

I watched this again for the Golden Ladies 2013 challenge, and so here are my current scores:
1 actress + 1 film = 2 point + 2 from before = 4 points 

A little snippet of what awaits you (check out the scottish accents, och!):

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