Brave reviews

Mister Tee
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Re: Brave reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:11 pm

Hollywood Reporter.

As odious a thing as it is to judge by a trailer, these reviews confirm the sense I got from it: that this could be a cartoon from any studio; it doesn't appear to have the uniquePixar stamp.

Brave: Film Review
9:00 PM PDT 6/10/2012 by Todd McCarthy

Pixar's 13th feature plays it safe and old-fashioned rather than risky and adventurous.

Pixar's 13th film, which follows an adventurous Scottish princess, is visually stunning and strongly voiced, but doesn't take any real risks.
The season's latest feature destined to boost the demand for kids' archery lessons, Brave might disappoint many ardent Pixar loyalists while simultaneously delighting old-time Disney fans.

our editor recommends
Full 'Brave' Trailer: Pixar Shows Off Scotland and an Epic, Animated Hairdo (Video)CinemaCon 2012: Pixar's 'Brave' to Test Dolby's New Atmos FormatPixar’s 'Brave' Honors Steve JobsThe 13th animated feature from the world's most consistently successful film company is its first set in that version of the past forever favored by Disney, that of princesses, kings, queens, witches, evil spells and prankish secondary characters. For all its pictorial and vocal beauty, the film's emotional line and dramatic contrivances are both more familiar and less inventive than what's usually delivered by the studio. Younger kids won't mind, but many viewers accustomed to relying upon Pixar for something special will feel a sense of letdown due to the lack of adventurousness. A muscular box office ride is virtually a given.

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Part of the problem is that Brave never becomes the film that seems to be promised at the outset. After a beautiful and eventful prologue in which flaming-maned Scottish princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) receives an archery bow for her birthday, glimpses blue will-o'-the-wisps floating through the forest and sees her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), lose a leg to a ferocious bear, the action jumps ahead to her adolescence and her obligation to get married.

Under the strict tutelage of loving but demanding mother Elinor (Emma Thomson), Merida has learned the necessities but is a wild lass at heart, desperate for her days off when she can ride off on horseback and perfect her archery. As for marriage, nothing could be less appealing: “I don't want my life to be over,” she rails to her mother. “I want my freedom.”

One look at the top suitors offered up by the three other leading clans and you can see what she means; they're the three stooges of Scotland, whose beefy kinsmen would sooner brawl than shake your hand. Once Merida shows them all up in an archery contest and her furious mother tosses her daughter's prize bow in the fireplace, the headstrong girl takes off on her enormous steed, Angus.

VIDEO: Full 'Brave' Trailer: Pixar Shows Off Scotland and an Epic, Animated Hairdo

It stands to reason that this first half-hour sets up expectations of a story in some way involving a renegade princess, trouble among the clans and/or a mysterious adventure involving the wisps and some Stonehenge-like arrangements that come into play. The left-turn taken by the script co-authored by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman and Irene Mecchi, from a story by Chapman, who co-directed with Andrews, might be embraced by those comforted by the familiar. But it's a move that channels the film into startlingly well-worn territory, that of a conventionally toothless and whiskered old witch (Julie Walters) willing to cast a spell to grant Merida's wish to change her mother so as to alter her own fate.

The spell, lo and behold, turns Elinor into an enormous bear, one that retains Elinor's brain and heart but cannot speak. Thus ensues a lot of not-so-hot slapstick as bear Elinor knocks about in quarters too small for her and tries to communicate while Merida feels remorse and endeavors to reverse the spell.

What results is a film that starts off big and promising but diminishes into a rather wee thing as it chugs along, with climactic drama that is both too conveniently wrapped up and hinges on magical elements that are somewhat confusing to boot. Not only is the tale laden with standard-issue fairy tale and familiar girl-empowerment tropes, but the entire project lacks the imaginative leaps, unexpected jokes and sense of fun and wonder that habitually set Pixar productions apart from the pack. Its ideas seem earthbound.

On a sensory level, however, Brave is almost entirely a delight. The wild beauty of Scotland, of the verdant forests and the craggy peaks, is lovingly rendered with a gorgeous palette of painterly colors and in very agreeable 3D. Even better, the voicings here are among the most exceptional and pleasurable of any animated film you might care to name. Working in pronounced Scottish accents that, to be sure, don't approach the often undecipherable ones heard in Ken Loach films, Scottish actors Macdonald and Connolly are a joy to listen to, as is Thompson, even if too many of the conversations are argumentative in a repetitive vein. Patrick Doyle's active and resourceful score is another major plus in a film that has played it safe instead of taking chances and going for something new.

Mister Tee
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Brave reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:01 pm

Pixar's comeback from Cars 2 seems to be only in middling, relatively conventional territory.

Variety

Brave
Pixar has fashioned a poignant tribute to mother-daughter relationships.
By Peter Debruge

'Brave'
Walt Disney began his feature career with a princess story. Now Pixar gives princesses a go after making a dozen other toons, and though the studio brings its usual level of perfectionism and heart to the assignment, "Brave" seems a wee bit conventional by comparison with, say, how radically "The Incredibles" reinvented the superhero genre -- not that Pixar's eager international following will object. Adding a female director to its creative boys' club, the studio has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as "Finding Nemo."

Though going all girly has made parent company Disney skittish in the past (most recently retitling its Rapunzel adventure "Tangled" to play to crossover interest), this new Celtic princess comes off as enough of a tomboy to ensure near-universal appeal. As its title suggests, "Brave" offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren't so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair.

Voiced with verve by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald, young Merida takes after her father, King Fergus (comedian Billy Connolly), still nursing a grudge against the bear that ate his leg. A defiantly independent lass, Merida prefers archery and horseback riding to the dainty yet dull pursuits taught by her ladylike queen mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson), resulting in many a royal scolding.

The film breezes through most of Merida's upbringing to find conflict on the eve of her betrothal, when Elinor somehow manages to surprise her daughter with the news that the clan believes in arranged marriage. As far as Merida is concerned, she doesn't need a man to live happily ever after -- a novel concept in the relatively narrow world of cartoon logic, and one that allows the movie to do without a lowly stable boy or other replacement love interest. And so Merida upstages her suitors before running away into the woods alone.

For a girl distrustful of tradition, Merida is quick to put her faith in the ancient forest spirits, following a series of glowing blue will-o'-the-wisps to the door of a witch's cottage. Had Merida only watched more Disney movies as a girl, she never would have made her next mistake. Naive in the ways of magic, she asks for a spell that will change Elinor's mind, receiving instead an enchanted cake that transforms her mother into a giant black bear -- that most endangered of species in Fergus' ursine-averse kingdom.

"Brave" may not be a romance, but it is most certainly a love story, using this enchanted device to explore the dynamic between Merida and her mother. Thompson brings deep reserves of empathy to the film's less obvious but equally strong female role model, matched by a number of touching, nonverbally protective actions after she takes on bear form. The animation is at its best when allowing Elinor's character to shine through her awkward new shape.

Merida has two days to undo her mistake before the change becomes permanent, but by this point, the film has become just another fairy tale, and only the youngest of children will be surprised by what follows. Familiar though its elements may be, "Brave" feels quite different from earlier Pixar films, demonstrating a refreshing versatility in an oeuvre that was starting to look a bit staid, especially as sequels overtook the slate.

Behind the scenes, Brenda Chapman began the project and retains a directing credit, though Mark Andrews reportedly stepped in around October 2010. However the duties may have been split, the resulting film appears darker and more intricate than anything the studio has attempted before, from the richly textured Highlands cliffs to the individually rendered curls of Merida's burning-bush hair.

Musically, gone are Randy Newman's folksy tone and Michael Giacchino's infectious pep, making room for a different signature from Scottish composer Patrick Doyle. When Merida needs some alone time, the soundtrack offers lovely ballads by Gaelic folk singer Julie Fowlis, but in nearly all other moments, Doyle's dynamic bagpipe and strings arrangements swarm into action.

That energy reinforces the film's restless, almost agitated spirit, further mirrored by virtual 3D cameras that swoop and race through the meticulously conceived environments. While elaborate attention was clearly paid in designing this tale's belligerent gents (with amusing voicework by the likes of Connolly, Robbie Coltrane and Craig Ferguson), Merida and Elinor appear to be its two least detailed characters. Yet Merida's wild red mane more than compensates for any personality absent from her expressions.

The toon "Brave" most resembles is DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon," offering the flipside of that pic's sensitive-boy predicament in its adventure-seeking heroine. An interesting study could be made in contrasting the two studios' approaches, no doubt, and yet celebrating their respective accomplishments drives home how far both have come since the year when "A Bug's Life" and "Antz" bowed opposite one another.

As an added treat, "Brave" is preceded by Enrico Casarosa's Oscar-nominated short, "La luna," adding seven minutes to the running time of Pixar's shortest feature since "Monsters, Inc."


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