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REVIEW: Disney Pixar's Brave (PG)
PIXAR animation studios go to lengths that cinema audiences wouldn’t quite believe.
During their research trips to Scottish shores for their new feature, Brave, they travelled into the hills to lay in the heather and wholly immerse themselves in the flora, fauna and ancient mystery of the lands. We have clearly come a long way since Gregory’s Girl and Trainspotting were subtitled for American audiences.
These efforts have suffused the end result’s visuals - after a troubled production during which the story’s originator, Brenda Chapman, was replaced by Mark Andrews – with a glorious authenticity.
It is misty, it is magical and it is movingly Celtic in many places, complete with three original songs featuring local Scots Gaelic chanteuse Julie
The screen has never looked better, and you’ll be agog at the skill which created the untamed red hair of the lead character, feisty young princess, Merida (the company’s first female protagonist),
and the natural world in the background.
Story-wise, Brave is a typical growing pains tale, as talented rider and archer Merida rebels against her traditionally arranged marriage to a suitor from one of the three clans who support her
father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly).
Her mother (Emma Thompson) tries to impress upon her unruly daughter the importance of familial obligations, reminding her that a princess “strives for perfection”, and, in a symbolic scene, forces
Merida’s mane of hair into the tight white hood of an official dress.
Merida, typically teenage, strops off to the forest, setting in motion a chain of events which will teach her to understand responsibility and cause a necessary empathy with the struggles of
someone very close to her.
Mothers and daughters may be wiping away a tear of recognition at many points of this story, and it has a certain charm and humour, the latter thanks to the actions of the dense, silly clansmen and
the antics of Merida’s young triplet brothers.
But, it’s once again a sideways, or even backwards, step for the formerly pioneering Pixar, who once amazed and astounded us, and from whom we now demand those two qualities.
Cars 2 was a disappointment, and this, though not quite on that level, lets us down with its predictability. You will know where the story is going, and what lessons it is communicating from
relatively early on.
There are no moments to stun, or to hit the heart quite like, for example, Up’s montage, or Wall-E’s dance through space, which is a darned shame from a company of such ability and previous
It is also a let-down that this is the feature dedicated to the memory of Apple visionary and Pixar’s original majority shareholder, Steve Jobs, their “partner, mentor and
Will their genius return with the forthcoming Monsters Inc prequel and rumoured Finding Nemo sequel? We can only hope so.
NB: Brave is preceded by the enchanting short, La Luna, during which a team of sweepers clear stars from the moon.