Don’t mess with the princess
Duration: 93 minutes
Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Voices of: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Sally Kinghorn, Eilidh Fraser
Pixar Animation Studios once again delivers a strong animated feature and sets new benchmarks for the genre.
This is the first Pixar film that revolves around a female character, a princess nonetheless, but one that is very different from the stereotypical “Disney princesses”.
Even though the latter company’s heroines have changed since Little Mermaid (1989) and Beauty and the Beast (1991), Brave’s Princess Merida is a different kettle of fish.
In fact, she should provide a very interesting role model for both girls and boys.
Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) has always divided her parents’ educational theories.
Her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) of the Scottish Kingdom of DunBroch, had lost his leg to a bear and thus has always believed that Merida should know how to defend herself; while her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), has always believed that a princess should be sweet and prim.
Merida has three younger brothers – triplets Hubert, Hamish and Harris.
It is now time to find a suitable husband for Princess Merida although the idea of an arranged marriage does not sit well with her.
Suitors arrive from all the clans of DunBroch. These include the sons of Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane) and Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) who have to compete with each other to win the princess’s hand.
But Merida cannot take this and escapes from the castle. She goes into the heart of the forest following magical wisps. Here she meets a witch (Julie Walters) who casts a spell that will help the princess but that also bring the doom of her family and kingdom.
The voicing cast adds another dimension to the picture. Billy Connolly seems born to play the part of the king and he goes over-the-top in his role.
The characters of the triplet brothers, who seem to get into trouble all the time, are simply a gem.
They give the film its humorous slant as it is generally more serious in tone.
In fact, it reminded me of Pixar’s Up (2009).
Pixar shows an incredible eye for detail in the animation field with Brave.
The Scottish forests and landscapes are given a rich and detailed look that makes for a very strong visual experience. It’s very obvious that the animation team has fallen in love with the Scottish glens.
In a way, this is Pixar’s first fable and they cannot help but throw in the studio’s signature weird touches especially when the story progresses into the “bear transformation sequences”.
The resulting film is not only aimed for children but also holds lots of appeal for adults. It aims for a distinctly realistic look to deliver a film that is Pixar-like in attitude but very different from their usual oeuvre.