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A Brave outing for Disney Pixar
Member Name: mummy2harry
Advantages: Sweet story, emotional, great animation, feisty lead female character
Disadvantages: Nothing major
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
Summary: A brand new movie from Disney Pixar