* Prices may differ from that shownMore Offers
I was curious about this film, but I only got round to watching it last weekend. I didn't know much about it beyond that it was Scottish and a Pixar film, but that meant I had no preconceptions about the film.
Kelly Macdonald as Merida
Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor
Billy Connolly as King Fergus
Julie Walters as The Witch
Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall
Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin
Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh
Steve Purcell as The Crow
Patrick Doyle as Martin, the guard
John Ratzenberger as Gordon, the guard
This film tells the story of Merida, a headstrong young princess. At the start of the film, we see a young Merida who is delighted with her father's gift of a cross bow for her birthday, much to her mother's dismay. As the film jumps forward to the teenage Merida, we find that not much has changed. Her mother is still disappointed with her behaviour and Merida is as headstrong as ever. When she discovers she is to be betrothed, she is horrified. Against her will, Merida is forced to watch the Highland Games, where the first born of allied clans compete to win Merida's hand in marriage. Twisting the rules, and as the first born of the Dunbroch clan, she decides that she can compete for her own hand, and choosing archery as the game, she is successful against the other suitors, much to their shame.
After an argument with her mother, where Merida uses her sword to tear the family tapestry, Merida flees on her horse Angus. While in the forest, she meets an old witch who gives Merida a cake that will change her mother's mind. The witch does mention side effects, but Merida is already away. After giving Elinor the cake, Merida is horrified when she sees her mother transformed into a bear. Trying to track down the witch, they discover that she has disappeared, but has left a message - that unless Merida can "mend the bond torn by pride" before the second sunrise, the spell will become permanent. Merida thinks the witch means the torn tapestry, but is it really that simple?
I really enjoyed this film, as there is a real emotional rollercoaster through this film, but it is also a lovely story. I also thought the animation was amazing - in some places it looked so realistic. The film also had that typical Pixar style of both making you laugh, but also pulling on your heart strings.
It does tell an important story as well, that of communication, and also love.
I can see how this film would appeal to both children and adults. There are humourous touches that would appeal more to children, and there is also the storyline that would appeal to adults. The main character is more believable than the Disney princesses and is a strong female character, something that I feel is lacking in some films nowadays. She is hotheaded, strong, but when it comes down to it, she can show real love for her family.
I feel that not only does this film have a lovely story; it has an important one too. While a little extreme in some places, it shows that while teenagers think they are always right, quite often parents know best and want what is best for us. Another thing that is apparent from this film is the love and protective nature of a mother for her children - love that doesn't waver even when you accidently turn your mother into a bear (like I said, slightly extreme!). Brenda Chapman, who wrote and directed the film, did draw inspiration for this story from the relationship between her and her own daughter. It also shows the importance of communication in relationships of any kind, something I could learn from myself if I'm honest!
Something that I don't always comment on when writing film reviews, but I feel I have to mention with this one, is the music. The music that is included is influenced by traditional Scottish music and some of the tracks have (in my opinion) such a gorgeous ethereal composition. The film score was written by Patrick Doyle, an acclaimed Scottish composer and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. Instruments used included bagpipes, fiddles, harps and bodhráns, to give the music an extra Scottish twist.
As my friend has the DVD, we also watched the extras. Also included on the DVD are two shorts - La Luna and The Legend of Mor'du. The Legend of Mor'du tells the story of the legend behind Mor'du, the bear from the film from the viewpoint of the witch who was responsible for turning him into a bear. I wasn't that impressed with this short though, as I found it hard to understand the witch, and I felt that it didn't add much to the film.
In complete contrast, La Luna (The Moon) is definitely one of the most gorgeous pieces of cinematography I have ever watched. Telling the story of a young boy Bambino, his father Papà and grandfather Nonno who are on a nighttime sailing trip in a rowing boat. When the moon appears, Bambino is encouraged to climb up a ladder so he can put the boat's anchor on the moon. Once this is completed, he is joined by the others who help to sweep fallen stars off the moon. I loved the animation of the stars on the moon, and also the characters themselves seemed, though there seemed to be an element of the Disney n the animation, they looked so full of life. I think it was such a lovely short story and the animation really appealed to me, and I think it would be a very tough hearted person not to be moved by this short.
This film has a 78% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 69 on Metacritic, so reviews are generally favourable. Personally, I would really recommend this, and also the La Luna short, as I think they are both fantastic, whether you're a child, or just a child at heart like myself.
Disney Pixar films are usually films associated with boys, take Toy Story and Car's for example so when I saw that they were bringing out a Disney Princess film I was really excited, even at 19 I am an avid Disney fan and love the animated films. However, this is not your average Disney Princess film, the heroine in this is full of passion, boldness and punch and brings a new, modern twist to the classic Disney Princess story.
The story is set in the Scottish highlands and tells the tale of Merida, a skilled archer and daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. It is a tradition that princesses marry and when faced with three suitors from different kingdoms, Merida rebels and demands that she chooses her own path. She flees and discovers a witch's hideout, here she gets a spell to change her destiny and make her mother see her way. This goes wrong and Merida, along with the help of her mischievous triplet brothers, sets out to break a beastly curse before it's too late.
In true Pixar fashion the movie is riddled with humour and even though the film is set in the past with traditional Scottish values, it provides modern quirks.
The animation is beautiful, the beginning scene depicts Scottish scenery and this although obviously animated is stunning and so lifelike. The characters are done really well with each hair strand having its own movement. The sound is equally as beautiful, traditional Scottish bagpipes accompany the pictures and really added to the overall tone of the film.
The best voicing comes from Billy Connolly who plays King Fergus, Merida's father. I really couldn't imagine anyone better suited to the role than him and he gives life and passion to the character. Other good voicing and acting comes from Julie Walters who plays the witch, although she doesn't have a massive part and you don't hear her a lot in the film she really adds to it and is a worthy addition to the casting.
I think that Disney and Pixar have done really well with this film, they've taken the notion of having a Disney Princess and instead of having her fall in love they've shown the concept of parental relationships and challenges faced in a relationship between mother and daughter. Merida isn't your typical princess, she's headstrong, determined and boisterous but I think that little girls everywhere will still love her and want to be like her.
Overall this is a fantastic family, good feel film with a strong moral message and lots of humour to keep all ages entertained.
Classification - PG (Contains some scary scenes)
Running Time - Approx 93 Minutes
Subtitiles - English/ English for the hearing impaired/ French
Stars - Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters
I had seen this film advertised last year and although it looked like it would be a good film and a fun and interesting watch I didn't rush out to the cinema to see it, nor did I buy it on DVD upon release. This isn't because I didn't think it looked good enough, money is very tight at the moment so I just didn't see it as important. However, the film has been showing on Sky Movies recently so I was very pleased that I could watch it. This is a film only review.
The film begins with scenes of the Scottish Highlands. The pictures are accompanied by traditional Scottish music played on the bagpipes. Although the opening is simple I found that I was really hooked from these opening pictures and couldn't wait for the film to begin.
We first meet Merida as a young child, around age 6. She is playing outside and her mother is looking for her. You can see they have a strong bond because whilst Merida is hiding her mother is pretending she can't find her. Merida finds this great fun and enjoys the game immensely. When her father returns he has brought Merida a gift - a bow of her own to use whilst hunting. Her mother is less than impressed, girls, and more importantly, princesses do not have weapons.
We then fast forward a few years and Merida is a teenager. The family has been extended - she now has 3 younger brothers and they are living in a grand castle. It is clear to see that Merida and her mothers relationship now is strained. Whilst her mother is desperate for her little girl to turn into the beautiful princess, Merida is much more interested in being outside, roaming free and riding her horse, Angus.
The time has come to find Merida a suitor. Her mother has invited three potential husbands to the castle to meet her daughter. Merida is less than impressed. Why should she have to marry? And why should it be to someone her parents have chosen?
I had high expectations of this film and had heard lots of good things about it. However, I did see a few reviews and opinions the last few weeks that suggested the film wasn't great. However, as it is a Disney Pixar production which I usually find very good I decided to give it a go because it had intrigued me for a while.
The film is animated and this is very well done. Although I wouldn't say the characters looked life like they are thought out very well and the animation is done to the highest standard. The characters move about smoothly and with ease and I didn't watch it thinking that it was animated at all.
Of course, what makes the film is Merida. She is far from yopur typical Disney princess which made me really intrigued by what she would have to offer. I loved the character of Merida and she is an absolutely superb role model. She is not afraid to be different, both in appearance and behaviour and in my opinion this belief is really important for children growing up today. I loved her fiery red hair which matched her individual personality and I felt that her character was thought out in great depth. She is a caring girl who loves her family but she is also brave and eager to stand up for what she believes in. Her sheer determination was really uplifting and I really enjoyed watching her battle various problems in order to get what she wanted.
I thought the plot was interesting and it did grab my attention. Initially I thought that perhaps the plot was a little dated - finding suitors is not a problem that tends to affect youngsters today. However, I thought that the plot would be interesting to all audiences and the moral of the film is still the same - to stand up for what you believe in.
I thought the plot was fast paced and action packed and I found there was always plenty going on and lots to focus on. There is a surprising twist about halfway through the film which I wasn't expecting and this did renew my interest and attention. Initially I thought that perhaps this twist was unnecessary but I was quick to learn that this really aided the plot and helped to reinforce the values and morals that the filmakers were trying to get across.
I thought the ending of the film was done well and although it was slightly predictable there were lots of twists and turns along the way. The ending was action packed and just the right length in my opinion, wrapping everything up well.
The film was released in 2012.
It was written and directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman.
It stars Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson and Julie Walters.
It runs for 1 hour and 33 minutes.
It is rated a PG.
I really enjoyed this film and thought it had a great story. The animation was done really well and it looked visually stunning. The characters are well thought out. I would definitely recommend this film.
I bought Brave a couple of weeks ago, on a buy 3 for £16 deal on Amazon, for my daughters 11th birthday on Wednesday. I had seen the adverts and thought it looked fun and so we were all eager to watch. We watched it on Thursday night.
Released in 2012 by Pixar but distributed by Disney, it was directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and lasts 93 minutes.
Brave is an animation set in the Highlands of Scotland, the key characters are the princess Merrida (Kelly MacDonald) her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thomson) her dad King Fergus (Billy Connelly) and her twin younger brothers. Meridas character is that of a headstrong and independent princess (with wild red hair) but to be honest she came over as a madam, her mother portrayed harshly as constantly nagging about manners / how to behave and her father as gregarious and fun loving lout. At no point did I feel that I bonded with any of the characters and the film trundled along with Elinor trying to find a suitor for Merida, by organising a meeting of the clans which thus ends in further revolt from Merida. Merida seeks another way out of agreeing to a betrothal and predictable it all goes horribly wrong, but with a moral of the story evident.
There were a few laughs, but in my opinion far too few, the characters lacked depth, the princess desperately wanted a bit of quality time on the naughty step and not a role model, which can be said about a lot of reccent american created films / shows. Definitely not worthy of a link to the Disney name and not a film I would recommend. We all watched it, my 2 older daughters were not impressed however my youngest (11) was seen to be entranced at certain key scenes and therefore as it was for her birthday, and the actual animation is of a high standard I will award 2 dooyoo Stars.
I was really looking forward to watching this animation because I had heard so much about it, so I bought the DVD as soon as it was released. For a while now I have been on the lookout for age-appropriate films for my daughter to watch when she is older, and several people told me that the role model in Brave is a positive female figure, so I bought the DVD thinking we would get many hours of enjoyment from it because we would want to watch it again and again. Turns out, I was wrong.
Brave is an animation based in Scotland in perhaps the 1800s, though this is not explained in the film. It is clearly set in the past, in an idealised Scottish setting, with lakes and all the flora and fauna that goes with untamed land. The visuals are stunning as the main character, Merida, lives in a castle in lush surroundings that are aesthetically beautiful and conveyed with really panache. You can't really fault the visuals of this animation.
Unfortunately, the story of Brave is lacking enough to have detracted me from them. It goes like this. Merida is a princess with a hopeless father, naughty twin brothers and a stubborn, controlling mother. Despite the depth of the visuals, all the characters are somewhat 2D in nature. Merida is a young princess but she is not interested in marriage proposals or keeping up appearances in the way that she is meant to be, however much those things are expected of her. I thought it was interesting that the mother is portrayed as the mean character who doesn't want Merida to have her own way, while her father couldn't care less and is happy to indulge his daughter in whatever makes her happy, when in real life it would almost certainly have been the other way around; the strict father assuring that his line was continued and the mother agonising over her daughter having to follow her own footsteps/fate against her will. But anyway.
The time comes for Merida to pick a clan member to marry, but she has a major temper tantrum when the princes undertake the traditional competition to show that they are worthy of marrying the princess, and she is adamant that she will not marry any of them. There are no Disney-style princes here; they are all portrayed as stupid, inadequate, and/or weedy, and their sudden brawls and leanings toward aggressive are meant to appear comical to us. Meanwhile we are meant to shout 'go girl!' while Merida displays her spoiled and selfish traits, which I believe Pixar meant to construe as passion and independence. I don't think they achieved this at all, and if anything I think the film shows young girls that they can get their own way if they throw tantrums, shout at their mothers and storm off in fits of rage, etc.
This storyline continues for a while with poor attempts at humour from the characters, particularly the young brothers who are meant to be uber cute, and the father who is simply hopeless. Merida takes her spoiled manner to a new level by seeking the help of a witch who lives in the woods, who grants her a wish which, predictably, goes awry. Enter a reason for mother and daughter to seek reconciliation and understanding of each other, which they have somehow avoided for the duration of their lives together in the castle. That's pretty much all there is to the story.
Brave has been touted as a pinnacle of 'female independence' because of Merida's character, simply because she does not want the typical princess life of marrying a prince and tending to his needs to the end of her days. So the female character gets her way and doesn't need a prince to save her; big deal. A pundit in the U.S. went to far as claiming that Merida was a lesbian because she didn't want to marry a prince from the start. Such is the power of the Disney princess. It saddens me that Pixar, which I have come to think highly of following Wall-E and other animations, tried to break the mould by sticking to it in every way but one. Merida gets her own way, but she is not a character to admire. She does not do it through strength or intelligence, but through cunning, deceit, and tantrum-throwing. If my daughter acted like she does, I'd be ashamed of her. And as for the 'girl power' supposedly represented by the animation, here's some food for thought - the two evil characters in the animation are Merida's mother, and the female witch who gives her a dodgy spell. The men who want to woo her and continue the line are apparently the innocent bystanders in this animation. Girl power indeed.
In addition to this, Merida is marketed as having perfect red hair, which also represents her fiery nature, which in the film only comes across as spoiledness, and big eyes, a small waist, etc. She is basically your stereotypical princess. She is not supposed to be into 'girly' things, but in real life Pixar sold 'Merida make-up kits' alongside the release of the DVD. You might say that I am reading too much into this. But having watched many children's films now, I am frankly disappointed that the ones that are meant to represent strong female role models for our young daughters, seem to be the worst when it comes to perpetrating stereotypes of women and young girls. Is it impossible to have a young female lead in a film or animation who isn't defined by her gender and looks? It would appear so.
Aside from all of that, I did like the Scottish accents in the film, which gave it a nice touch, and the Gaelic soundtrack was very well put together. But this didn't make up for all the flaws in the animation, for what it tried and failed to be, and for the basic, predictable storyline and even more basic, 2D characters. I will certainly not choose to show my daughter this animation when she is older, and if she does watch it one day, I hope she won't fall for the token gesture of a strong female character, though I am acutely aware that many young girls already have. I have already given away the DVD, which cost me £9.99 when I bought it new. I think we'll stick to anime in future.
Missed this during its Summer release, I've finally managed to see Pixar's latest offering 'Brave' on DVD. Whilst I've heard mixed reviews about the movie, I was certain Pixar would not disappoint and watched this with an open mind.
Set in the Pixar version of Scotland, the misty mountains and lush forests are the backdrop to the adventure, or should I say, dilemma for princess Merida. Strongwilled and fierce, she is much more interested in archery and exploring than she is in being ladylike as her mother prepares her for betrothal.
As the clans arrive to present their sons to Merida, the princess has a plan to forge her own path, with the help of a witch's curse. But when it doesn't go according to plan, Merida must undo the curse before it is too late.
The strength of the movie immediately lies in the unique and original world that 'Brave' is set- from the gaelic ruins and legends to the architecture and dress; even the characters have strong Scottish accents which I thought was a great touch. The added layer of mystery and magic with the will-o-wisps also added a dimension of visual enchantment, which must have been glorious to have seen in 3D.
What would also have been fantastic to have seen is Merida's explosive head of hair, which I recall reading took the animation studio hours to do each strand. The dynamic movement and placement of each of these strands is not to waste, as you do experience its dynamism and it is highly noticeable.
Perhaps they spent too long on her hair, as the plot itself was surprisingly straightforward compared to recent Pixar movies such as 'Wall-E' and 'Up'. The lack of depth and complexity was a bit of a shock as this was what I had expected from them although it was a comfortable and effortless journey to the end (no thinking needed).
I also couldn't help but think of 'Tangled' early on in the movie when Merida was riding on her horse and her hair was flowing in the wind as music began to play. Released a year after the surprise success of Disney's Rapunzel spin-off, I wonder if they tried to at least ride some of that wave- though these movies take years and years in production so I'm sure they planned 'Brave' way in advance.
NOTE: The song that played during this part was by Birdy and Mumford and Sons, which I only just found out... adds to my liking to the film haha!
From the linear storyline, the arrived ending offered a final climax which was exciting, but short and the result was easy and convenient, with a last minute attempt at squeezing our tear ducts. Perhaps this is also due to the lack of a real villain- Is it the witch? Is it the legendary bear? Is it Merida's mother? The 'defeat' of the villain was therefore non-existent.
Whilst Pixar successfully built up its characters and placed them in a wondrous world of magic and mystery, the lack of a more complex plot kind of let the rest go to waste. Perhaps the focus was meant to be on this mother daughter relationship, but that was hidden amongst everything else- the clans, the bethrothal... which was unfortunately distracting.
Kelly Macdonald- Merida
Billy Connolly- Fergus
Emma Thompson- Elinor
Julie Walters- The Witch
Also had voices by Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson.
If you saw this at the cinema, you would've seen this beautiful short before the movie. Thankfully, this short film is available as a bonus feature.
"A fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family's most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?" via imdb.
I thought it was breathtaking and one of their best short films ever, especially as the intrigue continues from beginning to end, with the finale a beautiful reveal.
'Brave' is one of Pixar's more gentle movies, offering a smooth and pleasant ride through a world of lush green and greys, the flow of Merida's volcanic red hair a focus, an icon of female independence. A relateable and strong dynamic relationship between Merida and her mother also carried through from beginning to end amidst a distracting set of ugly clan people, a violent bear and Merida's cheeky brothers. There is definitely something for everyone but not everything for everyone as we'd usually get from them.
Highly likely to get some Oscar attention for best animation and best effects.
With the release of 'Monster's University' in Summer 2013, I eagerly anticipate Pixar's next original movie (out 2014, titled 'The Good Dinosaur'), which hopefully brings us once again a story full of depth and emotion as we've seen during the Finding Nemo->Up era, and of course 'Finding Nemo 2' which I'm still skeptical about.
Princess Merida isn't what you'd call a traditional princess. She doesn't act like a princess should, much to the despair of her parents King Fergus and Queen Elinor. She loves archery, galloping around the Scottish highlands on the back of her horse, and is determined to not follow the path laid out for her by her title. However, when Merida decides to do something about her future, she unleashes a curse that threatens not only her, but the future happiness of her kingdom. Has Merida gone too far this time, and how is this Princess going to be able to overcome the curse with just her quick wit, and bow and arrow?
I usually really look forward to the latest releases from Disney/Pixar, simply because they are brilliant and always look like films both Harry and I can enjoy. However, neither of us were rushing to the cinema to see this one, Harry was put off by the fact it seemed to be about a girl (such a typical boy!), and I have to admit the trailer didn't draw me in as it had with previous releases. When it went to the KidsAM showing at my local cinema, we decided to go and watch it. I'm now glad that I did, and while I don't think that it lives up to their other films in terms of excellence, it was still very enjoyable and I am sure it will be one that I will be adding to our collection.
Merida isn't your typical Princess by any stretch of the imagination, and this is much like many of the women in the Disney films - Princess Jasmine, Ariel, Belle to name but a few. She's a strong willed, feisty young girl who has a strained relationship with her mother, Queen Elinor due to Elinor's wishes for her daughter to be the perfect Princess. I loved Merida from the start, her wild hair, her excitable personality and resourcefulness make her incredibly likeable, and she completely fills every scene she's in. She's not at all interested in boys (which many of the young girls watching this will sympathise with!), doesn't like dresses and corsets, and is pretty much a tomboy, and the antithesis of her mum. Elinor, while coming across as unlikeable due to the pressure she gives her daughter, is someone I actually liked, and many of the mums in the audience will surely understand where she's coming from!
The males in this movie are actually quite weak, and are very much under the thumb of the women in the movie. King Fergus, while physically dominating, is a walkover compared to his wife, and it's clear who wears the trousers in that kingdom! The triplets brothers of Merida are hilarious - they don't speak in the film yet are very much a big part of it, and always made me smile every time they came on. The three suitors for Merida are ridiculously unsuitable, and this just serves to make Merida stronger as a character, and I loved that she was more powerful than the men throughout! The twist in the tale takes a while to come about, but when it does, I was truly surprised, I hadn't expected it at all! It was cleverly done, and really brings home Disney/Pixar's message regarding the tentative relationship between mothers and daughters. As both a mother and a daughter, I could feel myself welling up as I could relate it to my mum and I, and also in a way Harry and I as he grows up as well. It's an emotional message, much as we come to expect from Disney/Pixar, and I thought it was handled brilliantly.
In terms of vocal casting, I really love that it's an all-British line up for this movie, as it rightly should do given that it's set in beautiful Scotland. Kelly MacDonald takes on the role of young Merida very well, and while I expected it would be a young actress taking on the role as Merida is young, MacDonald comes across with a youthful charm, and innocence to her voice that really suits the character. Emma Thompson is perfect as Queen Elinor, adding a soft Scottish lilt to her voice, and she's very easy to listen to. There's a maturity in her performance that will resonate with the parents in the audience, and her and MacDonald really do work well together. Billy Connolly is excellent as King Fergus, a larger than life man getting on with his Kingdom, and Connolly gives an enthusiastic performance, and his voice perfectly suits the character! Finally, my final favourite was Julie Walters as the mysterious witch. She isn't in the film a lot, a few scenes and that's all but Walters is enchanting as always, and fellow Harry Potter co-star Robbie Coltrane pops up in the film as Lord Dingleberry too. They are a cast, and really showcast some of the best talent Britain has to offer, and MacDonald is fantastic as Disney Pixar's alternative Princess!
Animation wise, well it's stunning as always. Set in the highlands of Scotland, amongst the forests, mountains and ancient relics, they manage to capture the essence of the place, and it is visually wonderful to watch, especially at the cinema where it's all much much bigger and more impressive. The characters are perfectly animated, from Merida's wild hair and expressions, to Elinor, Fergus and the tiny triplets. Even the animals within the film are superbly done, and it feels very real. This film has been given a PG certificate, and to be honest it really does warrant that. I felt some of the darker scenes (I don't want to spoil it!) were quite frightening to younger viewers, and I heard more than a few whimpers from the young children in the cinema, it was quite loud and scary in parts! On the other hand, the scenery, soundtrack and characters made it all the more exciting during the more fun and thrilling scenes, this truly is a film that takes you on a journey.
While I don't feel it quite deserves 5 stars from me (it isn't as good as the real classics, or more modern classics such as Wall-E, Toy Story and Up, it is still a gorgeous Pixar film, and has that emotional heart that really tugs at your heart-strings, especially the grown ups in the audience, and I'm not ashamed to say I shed a tear at the end! It isn't your typical happy-ever-after that we've come to love in these films, but it's more the better for it because Merida is just not your typical Disney princess in every way. I loved all of the characters, from the feisty Merida to the strict Elinor, there is someone in there for everyone and even the young males in the audience loved the film, even Harry did in the end! 'Brave' is a step awya from the norm for Disney Pixar, there's no singing dancing Princess here, and while I did miss a key song in the middle of the film, it was a joy to watch, and as I said, I'll certainly be adding this to our collection of films soon enough.
Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Written by Brenda Chapman (story) and Mark Andrews (Screenplay)
Running Time: 93 minutes
Kelly Macdonald ... Merida (voice)
Billy Connolly ... Fergus (voice)
Emma Thompson ... Elinor (voice)
Julie Walters ... The Witch (voice)
Robbie Coltrane ... Lord Dingwall (voice)
Kevin McKidd ... Lord MacGuffin / Young MacGuffin (voice)
Craig Ferguson ... Lord Macintosh (voice)
The DVD is released on 26th November 2012
We enjoy taking our children to the cinema to watch the latest movie, and was eager to see Brave as on a visit to the Disney Store we had been bombarded by the merchandise, and the children were eager to see this redheaded princess. I too was quite looking forward to it as Disney and Pixar had teamed together meaning it could only be one thing - fab! As we were on holiday on its release date of 13th August, we have only just managed to see it at the weekend.
The film is set in Scotland and follows a royal family as they bring up their daughter Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald). Merida is being tutored by her mum to make the perfect princess and the perfect bride, and she spends her life from childhood performing duties and tasks that will make her into a wonderful bride. Unfortunately for Merida's mother, she has absolutely no interest whatsoever in becoming betrothed and wishes only to follow her interest in archery and be a free spirit.
Meanwhile Merida's father (voiced by Billy Connolly) spends his life chasing wild bears who has a feud to settle with one bear in particular. Three little terrors constantly cause chaos and run around causing trouble in the castle, occasionally bumping into their sister Merida along the way. The triplets add humour to the film and are entertaining to watch with their big red hair.
This wasn't my favourite ever Disney film, but it was very good. The mysterious settings and beautiful scenery were animated down to a tea, and while the children have no interest in this kind of thing, I think adults are certainly impressed by it. There are a few scenes that don't look like an animated scene at all, including when Merida is stood on a cliff top dipping her hands in a waterfall. This scene looked like Merida had been superimposed onto a real landscape. Of course, for anyone that has seen any billboards, adverts for this film, then you will know that Merida has the biggest main of bright red hair you have ever seen, so the realness of landscapes soon disappears when her hair bounds into the scene! I did find myself fascinated a few times by this big main of hair. One scene sticks in my mind in particular when she is tending to her horse and her hair is flailing around and bouncing all over the place as she animatedly moves, but literally you can see each individual curl, and it looks so real. Animation at its absolute best, I really struggle to understand how animation could get any better in the future.
As with all Disney movies, there is an underlying message for the children. In this case, Merida and her mother Eleanor (voiced by Emma Thompson) both act selfishly in some respects and the film teaches the values of understanding other people and listening to them. The whole aspect of the story is based around this and is mixed up slightly with the introduction of a witch!
One thing I will say about the film is the accents and the language used make it difficult for young children to understand. Reese Witherspoon was originally cast as Merida but was unable to continue to production due to scheduling conflicts. I think Witherspoon would have been easier to understand but Merida was the one of the easier characters to listen to. I don't think they understood a word of what Billy Connolly (her father) said for about 10 minutes until they got used to his strong accent. The main issue was the language, while this was easy for the adults and the older children, I found my 4 year old kept screwing her face up as she didn't understand things like 'The ancients spoke of it. It is the heart of this fierce land. it is carried in the wind. Born of our legends and when we are put to the test, it is the one thing that we must always be' and talk of coming 'betrothed' which I don't think they had a clue what it was!
The $185 million budget is as you would expect from a Disney animation of this class and by 2 weeks after its release had recouped its budget and made a $50 million profit. All without touching merchandising or the massive profits they will make when it is released on DVD. As with all Disney movies, you run the risk of your child wanting absolutely every part of Meridas outfit, jigsaws, cups, etc, etc. Luckily its coming up to Christmas so when asked I was able to fend them off with 'ask Santa' but always bear this in mind before introducing a child to the new Disney film!
All in all a top class Disney/Pixar combination, but not the greatest. I am not sure if it will become a Disney Classic, due to its combination with Pixar but I wouldn't be surprised. A must see.
Now here is a brave combination of Disney and Pixar that is well translated in its central character - the lead protagonist, following a popular Disney trend, is a princess. Yes, she grew up in a castle and her parents are the kind and queen in Scotland. The slight twist here is that young Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a free-spirited, independent young red-haired girl, who has no interest in many of her royal duties. As a princess, she is taught manners, the art of enunciation, how to dress in tight corsets, and her wild, open behaviour attracts constant open criticism from her mother, Queen Eleanor (voiced by Emma Thompson) whose sole goal is to wed her daughter off to one of the sons of her kingdom's neighbouring lords. But Merida has no time for any of this, as her mind stays focused on one thing: archery.
Yes, she is virtually inseparable from her bow and arrows, and she is rather good, as shown in one of the most sensational, breath-taking scenes of the film, as the young Merida takes her horse Angus for a ride, effortlessly shooting the perfect score in each of her hidden targets in the beautiful Scottish woods where she finds liberation and a sense of adventure away from the stuffy, conservative palace life. With this early sequence backed by a lively original song written for the film, the colourfully detailed forest comes to life, and "Brave" sets up to be one of Disney/Pixar's most vibrant, energetic and kinetic film to date, much like its heroine.
Three brave lords sail to King Fergus' (voiced by Billy Connolly) castle for his daughter Merida's hand in marriage, much to her dismay. After insisting they have an archery contest in which the winner of the competition will automatically be betrothed to her, she crashes the match, confidently outclassing her three potential suitors. With one of them who managed to hit a lucky bull's-eye, she shoots her arrow straight through breaking his, a moment of true technical marvel. Causing embarrassment and friction between the kingdoms, the large, aggressive lords get ready to go to war over the shame Merida has single-handedly brought. Eleanor and Merida get into a huge fight, which ends with the young princess riding off into the forest she loves, wishing her mother would change and her life to be different.
And she is about to learn one of the most important lessons out there: be careful what you wish for. There is a helpful googly-eyed witch (voiced by Julie Walters) who offers to turn everything around. With potions, a strand of Merida's hair, more potions, dust, smoke and a large cauldron, a dessert pie is prepared, for her mother to consume and undergo this miraculous "change" Merida so longingly wants. So Eleanor unsuspectingly takes a bite out of her daughter's "peace offering" but suddenly finds herself unwell and eventually turning into a bear. And now it's up to Merida to clean up her own mess, reverse the spell, whilst simultaneously trying to keep the recently transformed mother safe from ferocious Scottish warriors who love a good hunt tracking down wild bears.
What "Brave" never does is waste any time: with one plot turn after another, it always has a place to go, has a clear structure, and has heck of a fun time getting to that goal post. Merida herself is a simple, young, likable heroine of resourceful means, in no way invincible and still coming across as a feisty one who can look after herself in times of crisis. Voiced by the sassy Mcdoland, Merida is unlike anyone we've ever seen before. She has no love interests (and no, the three hilariously pathetic suitors don't count), no prince who will come to her rescue and this journey is hers alone to take. She's a quick thinker, an excellent archer, and is more than fit to survive in the wild. And with her, "Brave" finds a solid character to base their stories on, someone worth caring for, and someone who will guarantee some sort of satisfying result thanks to her skills.
She does receive some valuable help from her three younger triplet non-speaking brothers, Hamish, Harrison and Hubert. They're adorable little troublemakers and expert pranksters who notch up the comedy value. They are sweet, and in an unexpected twist, become even cuter (you'll see), and with them "Brave" finds the time to pack in some fast-paced, slapstick humour that will be appreciated by both the children and adults. The comic sidekicks never overshadow the important story at hand, and are kept relatively at bay, only making use out of them in necessary, sensible moments that serve a bigger purpose in terms of driving the narrative forward. The mischievous trio works with clever methods, bouncing off one another, sneakily getting around the smallest, darkest corners of the castle, wreaking havoc along the way.
Intense scenes of loud action, most of them involving a bear of some sorts, do make the film stand out from previous Disney's family-friendly entries. Whilst this is suitable as a family viewing, it would be wise to take into account that there truly are some crashing, thundering climatic moments that do make an appearance and this has been rated PG for a reason, not the usual U you would expect from a Disney animated film.
"Mend the bond, torn by pride" advises the witch, as a riddle to break this spell, and although the meaning is rather clear and straightforward, the film has a way of making an emotional impact with this simple message. This is ultimately due to a brief, fiery family feud and a series of miscommunication between a mother and daughter whose thoughts and priorities are vastly different. The carefree, slightly dim-witted and clueless father has a hysterical way of always removing himself from such situations, and it's the strict mother who is in charge of the discipline around the house. There are cheesy, cringing final moments of tearful reunion, realisation and regret, but these scenes are kept to a bare minimum, and once all the serious issues have been addressed and the characters have had a good hug with everyone to work everything out to reach a happy conclusion, it's back to old times of screwball charm, uplifting songs, and another view of the stunningly designed Scottish highlands, something you can't get enough of, even in an animated feature: the scenery is simply spectacular, and often looks as real as some aerial shots used in documentaries.
Pixar and Disney have done it again - they have produced something sweet and effectively entertaining for all ages, with a simple but strong take-home message, and a strong, convincing princess in the middle to cheer for.