Directed By: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Starring: Kelly Mcdonald, Billy Connolly
Reviewed By: Darryl Griffiths
The creative masterminds at Pixar have certainly over indulged down the years, when it comes to bringing unlikely sources to life in emphatic fashion. Whether it’s the colourful collective from the hugely successful Toy Story trilogy or the ‘need for speed’ champions of ‘Cars’, they’ve consistently hit the target with audiences. More recently, they’ve proved just as effective when having human beings at the forefront of their heartwarming narratives (Up). In the hope of trying to continue such a trend, they unleash their latest project ‘Brave’.
Immersed deep in the mythical world of the Scottish highlands, our heroine of the piece is the fiery haired and headstrong teenager Merida (voiced by Kelly Mcdonald). Straight from the outset, it’s evident she’s not your typical teenage Princess. Trusty with her beloved bow and arrows, she’s constantly attempting to fend off tradition at every turn.
Imposed upon her domineering mother Queen Elinor (Love Actually’s Emma Thompson) but considerably less so by her larger than life father King Fergus (Billy Connolly), tensions reach boiling point when she defies a custom that involves her hand in marriage. Enraged, one fatal decision in the forest has significant consequences and it is left to Merida to repair the damage inflicted.
As always with our beloved Pixar, the animation in ‘Brave’ is truly sublime. If Scotland suddenly benefits from a increase in tourists, many thanks could easily be sent in co director’s Mark Andrew and Brenda Chapman’s direction. From the subtle details in the character’s life like figure movements, to the impressively realised backdrops, the world crafted here is saturated in vibrance and personality.
With such inspiration at its core, it’s refreshing to see ‘Brave’ stay true to it’s origins and have a born and bred cast voicing the characters. Kelly Mcdonald’s Merida is an engaging and contemporary spin on the Disney ‘Princess’ of old, trading in the traditional glossy persona for gumption and sharp wit. The fierce mother/daughter dynamic between Merida and Thompson’s opinionated Queen Elinor anchors the film brilliantly and whilst the plot strand is lacking in originality, it redeems itself through its emotional resonance and execution.
It’s not all drama, as Connolly’s King Fergus leads the Tartan charge for belly laughs. Thankfully, they are delivered in spades. His towering tones coupled with his oblivious nature to all things important is a delight to watch. He’s ably assisted in such a department by Merida’s terrorising triplet brothers and the leading lights/ bumbling buffoons (delete as applicable) of the local clans (presented by Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson and Kevin Mckidd).
Cynics may target the film’s simplicity of its plot structure compared to the animated juggernaut’s more memorable entries, with Julie Walter’s wicked witch being a mere plot device a prime example. However, this doesn’t detract from the fact that ‘Brave’ is another goregous to look at, thoroughly entertaining cinematic slice from Pixar.
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