on October 28, 2012
I've read some of the bad reviews, and they seem focused on a few things: 1) Scary scenes, 2) Nudity, 3) Lack of romance. Well, my three year old is super brave so I do agree that a lot of sensitive littles may have an issue with the movie, but it's not really an issue in our household. Nudity? Well, that's kind of laughable as it's an animated movie. I guess some people would rather hear fart humor and characters calling each other jackass ("Shrek"), and if that's you then skip this one, but it's really just two quick scenes and not in a scandalous way. And about that lack of romance... one of the reasons I love this movie for my daughter is the lack of romance for the main character. In fact, the whole plot is about teenager Merida trying to change her "fate" which is to get married before she's ready. She passionately pleads during one speech to the parents of her suitors to let their children decide when they are ready for marriage and to choose their own spouses. This is beyond refreshing after decades of Disney princess schlock where the all too young princess gets into a scrape and must be rescued by a man and then lives "happily ever after". Also, I found the romantic sparks between Merida's parents to be pretty sweet.
If you're raising an independent daughter you want to think for herself and not think girls are meant to be saved by boyfriends, don't skip this movie. (If she's sensitive and scares easily, wait until she's at least school age, though.)
on June 24, 2012
Pixar Animation Studios has always been known for their unique approach to filmmaking. They have always put the story first and foremost, something that so many other studios seem to take for granted. They also know the rest of the ingredients to add to make their films stand out from the rest: Great characters, lots of heart, and a goodly quantity of humor.
While not continuing the 21st century tradition of turning the fairy-tale on its head, as in the case of "Shrek", "Brave", feels like a rediscovered story by Grimm's with an unmistakably Pixarian flavor. Legends and myths abound in Scots folklore, and the writers at Pixar didn't have far to go in order to come up with their own story, one that is at once relevant, quite original, and yet entirely congruous with one's expectations of the perfect fairy-tale. As fresh and surprising as any of the studio's previous successes, I enjoyed it immensely, and could watch it many times over without growing tired of it. It's hard to find a real family film that everyone can enjoy together, but this one comes pretty to close to that ideal.
In the ultimate cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for, the film, set in 10th century Scotland, concerns Princess Merida, a feisty, strong-willed, adventure-seeking lass, skilled with both a sword and a bow and arrow, who would rather practice archery and ride through the woods with her horse, Angus, than follow the path desired for her by her parents; or more specifically, her mother. Determined to avoid her fate, she runs away, and manages to find a way to alter her destiny. To make a long story short, this ill-chosen wish sets off a chain of events that threaten to destroy everything Merida holds dear and the entire kingdom of DunBroch along with it.
This fresh take on a typical princess character pleasantly surprised me, as well as the fact that the emotional core of the film, as well as most of the plot, stems not from a romantic relationship between prince and princess, but from the mother/daughter relationship between Merida and Queen Elinor. Anyone who is a daughter like I am will easily relate to how complicated the bond can be between a mother and her child, and this film portrays that unique bond beautifully. Without giving too much away, it is their love for each other and their clashing of personalities that ultimately moves the entire film forward, and the changes they both experience throughout the course of the film give them both a better understanding of each other, and emphasize the importance of empathy, bravery, courage, family, and love.
Not content with just being an entertaining theatrical experience, the film goes into a level of moral and emotional depth that even fans of Pixar may be unfamiliar with. It takes a very special film to bring me to tears, and I was moved quite often. Not to say that "Brave" is strictly a tear-jerker, because it is not. I'd estimate that there is more action, adventure, and humor than in any other Pixar movie to date.
There is no doubt that "Brave" is one of Pixar's most beautifully animated films. The amount of detail is simply brilliant, and computer technology being what it is today, there are times when the visuals on screen almost rival the real world. I've never been to Scotland, but the richness and beauty of the country expressed in the film makes me feel as if I had. The landscapes are simply breathtaking, and so photo-realistic you might feel as if you've just fallen into the wilds of the Highlands; I'm sure that more than one viewing would be needed to absorb it all. The rendering on the hair and fabric is especially lifelike, and certain scenes involving non-human characters might make you do a double-take, they appear so true-to-life!
Composer Patrick Doyle's score is appropriately Scottish in flavor, combining the expected Gaelic melodies (jigs, reels, and such like), with more modern, atmospheric, incidental scoring. Sprightly where it needs to be and brooding where it doesn't, it perfectly enhances the movie to the point that it feels as organic as the moss on the trees. The gentle lullaby, "A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal", sung by Emma Thompson, is one of the stand-out pieces, and serves as the kind of musical representation of the love between Merida and Elinor. I also quite enjoyed "Song of Mor'du", a sort of Scotch drinking song, heard mainly in the background, but reiterated often throughout the rest of the score. There are also three other songs: "Touch The Sky" and "Into The Open Air", performed by Scots songstress Julie Fowlis, and "Learn Me Right", sung by Birdy, with Mumford and Sons, which, while not written by Doyle, fit expertly into their places in the story and aptly enhance the film.
Now, a good animated character needs a good voice to bring them to life, and the entire cast is all very well-chosen and very well-acted. Comprised mainly of Scottish and English actors, including Billy Connolly as King Fergus, Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor, Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall, Julie Walters as the Witch, and the incomparable Kelly Macdonald as Merida herself, it would be hard to find another group of people so perfect in their roles. Macdonald is wonderful as the flame-haired heroine, and Thompson simply shines as the equally obstinate but caring mother. Billy Connolly is a great counterpoint to her more level-headed and dutiful Queen, but gets far less screen time than either of the two female protagonists.
To sum it all up, "Brave" is a beautiful, touching, exciting, and refreshingly original film, one that is entertaining on so many levels and can stand proudly alongside any of Pixar's previous masterpieces. I would rank it as one of my favorite (if not my favorite) Pixar film, and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
on November 17, 2012
I've been trying to understand why some seem to be lukewarm about BRAVE. Some would like to see the beginning cut so that the action starts sooner, I would say that you'd miss the exposition if it wasn't there. I, for one, enjoyed every minute of it. Some have said that the backgrounds were too realistic, I think the backgrounds (and all the animation) is just incredibly beautiful. I would agree with the sentiment that it would have been nice to see more of the mother/daughter interaction, but then the movie would have been too long for the younger kids. It's there appropriately, but when the mother and daughter's relationship changes it could have been a slower process and I'd have enjoyed it because I'm at an age where I can enjoy the subtle changes. A ten-year-old wouldn't like that so I can understand the choice. I've read all the negative reviews, but I just don't agree. BRAVE is a great film.
As for this 5-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition - It's fine. I would have liked a sound remix for the 2 channel Dolby. The dialogue is slightly too weak or the musical soundtrack too loud. But if you aren't listening to the film on internal TV speakers then you're fine. It's all great and nothing too terribly distracting. It's great that Disney included so many extras. That makes buying these versions worth the extra $$. I couldn't care less about the 3D, but it's there if I care to watch it. But I honestly never do.
on December 18, 2012
I have thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was a definite good pick for my home video library.
It's good for all ages, young and old alike!
on July 11, 2015
You just have to be Brave enough to see it. And maybe cast aside the spears and arrows of critics. Why do people put this movie down as a "girls" story? Or a Disney princess story? Or say "While this isn't one of Pixar's finest.." What malarkey! It is one of Pixar's finest. I wonder if the reviewers have fully grasped the horrible implications of goings-on in this film. They are horrifying indeed.
This is hands-down Pixar's darkest film yet. If it weren't for the comedy this would be a horror story or a story of 10th-century war. Last night, I realized this is a Dark Comedy. Very dark. And not just in terms of theme -- it's visually dark, as well -- which only makes Merida stand out like a bright flame in a dark alley. At the same time, this movie is laden with human touches. But that dark side this movie has can show without notice.
Spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.
Why is it Pixar's darkest?
1. A 5-ish year old little girl sees a giant, cursed bear attack her and her family. The outcome is grim, and she is implied to have seen it happen.
2. An entire kingdom is laid to ruin, with vivid, visible evidence.. everywhere.. that it was an epic massacre, war, perhaps. Nothing subtle about it.
3. No-holds barred, often fiercely feral combat with hand to hand and with edged weapons, arrows and spears.
4. Choices made often carry severe consequences, for-keeps. No backsies. No reset button.
It is also possibly Pixar's most beautiful film yet. It's not so much an animated cartoon, but an animated Rembrandt painting. It has that glowing quality. While it is dark most of the time - except for Merida's torch-like mane - it glistens with vividness. Nature is rendered with such loving beauty it remains with the viewer long after the stinger at the end of the credits fades.
And the music.. oh my lord, the music on this movie. It can, on its own, bring tears. This film took an Academy Award for sound, and if the viewer has a proper home theater, the result is enough to pull you into the film, put you in the Highlands.
I would like to think as Time, the Ultimate Critic passes, Brave will stand among the Pixar movies people of today consider great.
Myself, I think it already does.
on October 12, 2012
Ok , I really dont understand peoples reveiws of saying this is one of disney /pixars worst.. What movie were they watching I ask . Because I for one saw old school disney storytelling with the beauty of pixar annimation. I suppose it is a more adult like fairy tell story, still has cute jokes but none of the disney sidekick goofyness for kids. But the story is very scottish folklore , which I loved and the characters are so easy to love as well.. I would of given it 5 stars had not for bit slow part in middle. But Ill definatly be purchacing the movie to add to my collection.,
I'm a bit worried about Pixar of late... they seem to be having a hard time finding their way since UP, which was followed by the overestimated TOY STORY 3, and the "let's never mention this again" CARS 2 ... BRAVE seemed like a shot at returning to form with a new original story.
And there is much to admire here. The animation is, of course, outstanding - reportedly a new software upgrade was required for handling the heroine's fiery red hair, and it shows. Pixar has yet to falter in the graphics department, and BRAVE is a stunning and beautiful film to behold! The voice acting is typically top shelf as well, with the likes of Emma Thompson, Kelly McDonald, and Bill Connoly leading the cast. And the underlying theme of learning how to swallow your pride and admit mistakes is a very good one to share with the youngsters.
With a strong foundation such as this, it is a shame that the movie ends up feeling so ... bland. The problem here is that there really isn't anything new to sink your teeth into. Perhaps we hold Pixar to too high of a standard now after one major innovative story after another. I have long bragged over Pixar's ability to avoid the commonalities of Disney and other animated features - but here things are about as rudimentary as they come.
So how many over-worn story elements you can find here:
We have a young princess (check) who has a problem with her parents authority (check) who decides to follow her own path (check) which leads her to making a deal with a witch (check) that ends up backfiring and hurting those she loves (check), requiring her to mature in order to solve the problem (check) - but in doing so, she still ultimately kind of gets what she originally wanted (check and check).
Supposedly there was originally an intention to make this more of an adventure story of the "good vs. evil" kind, and you can see in the build up of the heroine how this might have been. She is an expert archer in the medieval days of Scotland - a setting rife with possibilities for adventure. But, midway through you can sense the script being wrested out of one pair of hands and into another as the story takes a right turn into fable territory... one wonders how this setup might have functioned as more of an adventure.
But as I said, the theme overall is a good one, and the relationship that builds between Merida and her mother is a very touching and positive one. There is certainly a strong pro-family message here, which is always nice.
However, there are also the typical ongoing tropes that are, sadly, rampant in Disney's films of late - adult responsibility is not as important as personal freedom, men are immature idiots while woman must take up their slack, etc...
And most annoying of all, nearly every shot of the movie has to have someone bumping into something, or being hit by something, or screaming, or falling, or laughing uproariously. It's as if the filmmakers are afraid of losing the kids' interest for a split second, so they had to dress up every shot with some overly kinetic movement. Add to this the over-animation of the characters. Merida cannot simply bob her head as she utters a line - she has to sweep her hair up, or fall onto a bed and then roll off, or bulge her eyes, or something... these are the elements that are common among Disney films, but have not plagued the Pixar movies of the past.
Overall, BRAVE is a passable piece of entertainment - but it quickly leaves you once you've walked away. Enjoyable? Sure... but BEST ANIMATED FEATURE? Hardly! The handful of children I know of who have seen it have expressed no interest in seeing it again. That's your target audience, Pixar - I hope you're paying attention!
I'm not excited about Pixar continuing this year with the "franchise development" mentality in delivering a MONSTERS, INC prequel ... I really want to see them getting back to groundbreaking and innovative storytelling - and keeping away from the commonalities of children's animation - here's hoping the best animation studio in the business will remember it's roots!!
on May 14, 2014
With "Brave", Pixar finally made their entrance into a period and fairy tale setting. After the critical and financial failure of "Cars 2" (which is a film that I personally enjoyed and didn't deserve the massive hate), "Brave" was seen as Pixar's chance of redemption. However, some Pixar fans screamed foul and thought "Brave" was a result of the Disneyfication of Pixar. However, although "Brave" wasn't seen as the definite Pixar comeback, it still was better critically and commercially received as "Cars 2".
The feminist aspects were also surrounding "Brave". It was their first film with a female lead after more than a decade of films with male leads. "Brave" got also some buzz of the directorial change. It was Brenda Chapman's lovechild, but she got replaced because of creative differences. Although Chapman herself has stated that her original visions of the tale was fulfilled, the replacements are barely mentioned in the special features. She still got credited as the secondary director, although one can't help to wonder if there was a bigger conflict about this story or if this conflict was enhanced by the media.
Either way, although I've always been not so fond of Pixar, they can deliver a masterpiece now and then ("Toy Story", "Finding Nemo", "Up"). "Brave" does come across a one of Pixar's strongest works, but is also hampered by some flaws. And some quite obvious flaws too. Moviegoers has grown to expect more from Pixar and many of them found the film to be conventional. The marketing device also misguided the film, depicting it as a grand adventure, when it really is an intimate, character-driven story in the second half.
Where "Brave" really excel is with the animation and the music. The animation is stunningly gorgeous, as is the music, setting a haunting atmosphere and giving the movie a special quality. The wonderful score is by Patrick Doyle, the songs written by Alex Mandel and they work well.
"Brave" is a departure from Pixar's previous works, not only because of it's setting, but it's scope. It definitively feels more Disney than Pixar at times, but that's doesn't necessarily hurts the film. I see nothing wrong about Pixar trying to go in Disney's territory and make a Princes movie long you do it with class and subtlety (damn me as much as you want to, Pixar fanboys). However, I still wished that Pixar would make more realistic-looking characters for once and expand their horizons in term of character designs.
Where "Brave" falls flat, it's in terms of it's story. It's quite conventional, as the matter of fact too conventional. The story is trite, cliched and really not particularly well structured. The film seems more of two separate stories incorporated into one. However, despite the story problems, "Brave" shall have praise for having a mother-daughter-related story in a fairy tale setting and not having a prince charming to save the day.
Another noteworthy component about "Brave" is the choice of having an all Scottish cast into the movie. It's easy to give Pixar some good points about that, although the Medieval Scottish would probably be not understandable for todays audiences. However, most of the voices are fine. Billy Connolly (who previously was in "Pocahontas") brings the warmth and joviality to King Fergus. Emma Thompson (who was in "Treasure Planet") brings dignity and subtlety to Queen Ellinor. Less successful is Kelly McDonald as the protagonist Merida herself, making Merida more grating and whiny than she needs to be. Otherwise, Julie Walters makes a fine witch. Steve Purcell makes a fun crow. Kevin McKidd makes a good Lord MacGuffin/Young MacGuffin. Craig Ferguson delivers some spunk to Lord Macintosh.
The film is filled with good bonus features. First up is a audio commentary by director Mark Andrews, co-director Steve Purcell, editor Nick Smith and story supervisor Brian Larsen. The four of them delivers an excellent commentary, covering all the topics of the story and the technical aspects, although Andrew's voice can be a little grating at times. But still another excellent commentary from Pixar.
LEGEND OF MOR'DU; A short which enhances the full story about Mor'Du (according to rumors that were around the Internet, the short was supposed to be included in the actual movie). It's a fine short, giving more purpose and weight to the story of Mor'Du and it's nice to see that it's mainly hand-drawn.
LA LUNA: A short and sweet Pixar film.
BRAVE OLD WORLD: A featurette that talks about the crew's visit to Scotland and the Scottish influences on the film. Although is mostly praise about the land and culture, it's still interesting.
MERIDA & ELINOR: A featurette that covers the characters and personalities of Merida and Elinor and their relationship. Chapman herself dominates most of the featurette. A quite engaging topic.
BEARS: A short featurette that covers the designs and animation aspects of Mor'Du and Queen Elinor as a bear. Short, but still quite interesting.
WONDER MOSS: A topic about how they created the moss in the movie. It's a little too technical, but still interesting.
MAGIC: Magic tells us about the magical aspects of the film, like the wisps and the witch and the fairy tale aspect. Quite enjoyable
CLAN PIXAR: A featurette that covers the folks at Pixar. A little more jovial and happy talk than what it needs to be.
ONCE UPON A SCENE: A featurette that delivers the many deleted scenes (and also indicates "Brave's" troubled production). It's interesting that Pixar decided to have many of the deleted scenes in one featurette, instead of having the deleted scenes themselves. However, it's still interesting to watch.
Disc two is also filled with many featurettes. First up is an alternative opening (a few shots that made into one of the trailers). While it's not fully animated, it's still an engaging shot.
FALLING WARRIORS: A featurette about the fighting scenes in the movie and how they got choreographed. Short, but interesting.
DIRTY HAIRY PEOPLE: A featurette which talks about the hair in the movie. Also short, but interesting
IT'S ENGLISH... SORT OF: This featurette talks about the use of the Scottish actors, the Scottish words and phrases used in the movie. Quite fun
ANGUS: About Merida's black horse, Angus and how to create the character.
THE TAPESTRY: About the tapestry that Queen Elinor makes in the film and how the creative team managed to create it.
Overall, "Brave" is hampered by some flaws and might be to conventional at times, but still makes a good movie to watch. It's easily one of the best animated movies yet on this decade.
on January 30, 2013
Maybe Pixar has simply set the bar too high for itself, as Brave is an okay movie. However, I found it to be more childish than usual, and lacking in any significant character development or plot, unlike most other Pixar movies.
on July 19, 2013
The story takes special care to set up the mother as a monster, and then they turn her into one. As far as the term `brave' being applied to a girl who is simply fighting for respect and acknowledgement of her own merits against the tyrannical ravings of an overbearing mother who clearly rules the kingdom instead of the permissive caring father/king....... I'm not certain what I watched was a demonstration of bravery as opposed to squirming out of a mess of her own making. Merida is a girl who wants to go her own way and when given two grand opportunities to escape, she does just the opposite. Instead of fleeing for her life, she resorts to trickery to get her mother to see things her way. She finds a means of finally making her mother shut up and listen, only to have precious little to say to the woman/bear other than they need to find a means of getting out of the trouble she caused. The fact that the mother/queen has a belated epiphany where her daughter is concerned might have more to do with the desperation to return to her normal form and not angering the only person who might be able to do just that.
This movie is loaded with mixed messages. They barely skirted around the issue of servitude through an arranged marriage to a total stranger. And what about blind obedience that only serves the person making all the orders/demands? The same person who charges, "we can't run away from who we are." Who we are, or what someone else wants us to be? As for celebrating Pixar's first strong female character, I found it incredibly odd that there was a curious lack of female characters in the first place, strong or otherwise. There was just the domineering mother, the less than dutiful daughter, a wacky witch, and for comic relief a nanny of sorts. Why? In this fantasy, were women supposed to be barely seen and never heard? Evidently, this was a matriarchal society, run by an iron-willed woman, why weren't more women involved in the story?
Not my favorite Pixar movie by a long shot. But. All the characters save one were fantastic, the art work was spectacular (but fared better on the theater screen than a small screen TV), loads of good humor, some excitement, it's a keeper but not a movie I will watch all that often.
As for the viewing problems noted above, I have an older LG Blu-ray player and both the DVD and the Blu-ray disks played just fine in it.