Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Get out your bows and arrows, we're reviewing Brave!
This is my first sketched screenings sketch inking with an actual brush!  Which is also why there's only one illustration.
Brave is the new movie from acclaimed story geniuses and tear factory Pixar studios. Princess Merida(Kelly MacDonald) wants nothing but to ride through the glen shooting arrows into the sunset. But her mother Elinor(Emma Thompson) and father Fergus(Bill Connolly) want her to live the life of a dignified lady. Is there a magical way Merida can change her fate?

I hear a lot of people saying how this isn't as good as other Pixar films, and I really wonder how they can say that. This is a great movie, a great animation and a spectacular Pixar film!  It's completely different than anything else they've done.  They've managed to make a fantasy epic fairy tale without falling into the usual fantasy fairy tales pitfalls (no evil sorcerers, gnomes, dragons or talking animals).  And think, this is one of the few Disney Princess films in which the female protagonist isn't concerned with acquiring the heart of a male prince.  There are male suitors, but Merida barely cares about them. It's as if both she and Pixar are saying, "Hey, I don't need a man to have a great adventure, I can have one all on my own!" And that she does! In fact, most of the male characters are sidelined in favor of more of the relationship between Merida and her mother, which I love.  How many male-centric movies are there in which the female characters are one-dimensional damsels waiting to be saved? Where else are you going to find girl centric movie that's as funny, fun and entertaining as any male centric adventure?

I also love how there really isn't an evil protagonist.  In a lot of fantasy movies(and especially Disney movies) there's an evil character who's evil for the sake of being evil, who comes to the end of his fate not from the hero's hand but from his own sinister undoing. But none of Brave's characters are all that evil, they're just driven by certain motivations. Even the witch who casts the spell isn't that malicious, she just wants to make a living.  They haven't had a movie like this since Finding Nemo.

The message here is that there are different types of bravery.  Sure, Merida already has no problem fighting and picking up a bow and arrow, but she has to learn to be brave enough to take on responsibility and think of others instead of just herself.  That sets her up as a badass female character and provides a parallel for many teenagers growing up facing responsibility!  The storytelling is very tight, and though it's very easy to figure out how to break the spell leading up to a bit of a cliche ending, it's easy to see how a teenager wouldn't really understand it.

I alos love how realistic the family operates and how close they are. They have their understandings and know how each other work.  They feel like an actual family, with the mother being the boss even though the dad is three times as big.  The three brothers, one of the funniest parts of the movie, act as a unit rather than as individuals to better undertake their hijinks.  And I love how it shows both the mother's side of view and Merida's.

The voice acting is spectacular, the kind you don't even hear the actors, but simply the roles they take on. And this is a voice cast that includes Emma Thompson, Bill Connolly and Craig Ferguson! MacDonald is perfect as the rebelious Merida and has a wonderful emotional range.  Bill Connolly is as funny as always. And the great thing about Pixar movies is not what's said but what they don't have to say.  The three little brothers never say a word but have this wonderful way of communicating what they're saying without speaking. And I love how they don't have the cliche of talking animals but instead give them enough personality to emote for themselves.

And if you didn't already know, it's beautifully animated.  The character design, the setting, the animation and acting, the fighting, and especially the hair and fur dynamics are all perfect. The 3D works well, and the action is fun to watch. This might be the first Pixar movie that is constantly hilarious through the entire movie. They have some great silly moments and amazingly well executed slapstick.  I'm also surprised how there are barely any awkward moments.  The soundtrack is very celtic and fits with the beautiful scenery perfectly. 

Also I should mention the short before the movie is incredibly cute and a great idea. It reminds me of the Pixar short Partly Cloudy.

Anyone who loves Pixar should immediately run out and see Brave. When Pixar makes a movie, they knock it out of the park. And with Brave, they didn't just make a great movie, they made a movie that needed to be made. It's a movie with a strong female protagonist that doesn't need a man and isn't concerned with getting one. What other movie this year, animated or otherwise, can boast that? That is a different, and more importantly, amazing movie. 

THE GOOD: Great animation, voicework, wonderful story, female protagonist in a pixar movie, great action and humor, stunning hair physics, all around amazing.

THE BAD: um, the curse is a bit easy to figure out and the end is a bit cliche? 

THE VERDICT: $$$$$-GO SEE IT.  Seriously, it's great. A great Pixar movie, great fantasy movie, and great female empowering movie. Definitely worth seeing multiple times. 

MOVIES LIKE IT: Finding Nemo, Lord of the Rings, Hunger Games

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Y'know, you can't beat the arrow shooting scene that was in the trailer. This is a strong female character who doesn't need a man to be saved and doesn't need a male lead to have a great movie. 


  1. Good review. Had a lot of fun with this one for the first half or so, but then after that, things started to go downhill for me and it lost my focus. Usually, I love the heck out of Pixar films but this one didn’t do much for me, except give me plenty of eye-candy to gaze at.

  2. I disagreed with you so much that I didn't even finish the review which is really saying something because I LOVE your reviews.

    Anywho, Brave was terrible. Yeah, the animation is AWESOME and the colors, wow but the story's been done. This is Brother Bear as a mother and daughter combo. Her mother becomes a bear and they go through various ups and downs, all the while Merida is finally starting to understand Elinor. Kenai gets turned into a bear and he and Koda go through various ups and downs, and is almost killed by his brother, before Kenai finally understands bears.

    I would've walked out of that theater had I not surpassed the time limit to get your money back. Its good just long enough for you to not be able to get your money back.

  3. Sorry you disagree but glad you love my other reviews!

    I have not seen Brother Bear, so that may be true. And I don't think it's better than a lot of other Pixar movies(except maybe Cars), but I do think it should get major points for being a movie about a mother-daughter relationship in which all the men are side characters. You don't see that a lot in big budget movies!