★ ★ ★ ★
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane and Julie Walters. Written by Brenda Chapman. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
With classics like Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story under their belt, we tend to look to Pixar for the next animated masterpiece that children of all ages will love for generations to come. And while it is easy to glorify only their triumphs, we mustn't forget that every once in a while, they do fall short – even if it's just a smidgen. And their latest installment, Brave, is sadly one of those films.
Entirely likeable and largely entertaining, the movie follows Merida, the fiery haired and equally feisty princess and her royal family who dwell in the Scottish Kingdom of DunBroch.
Taking a liking to archery and the outdoors very early in life, Merida's not really your typical Disney princess type. She doesn't want to wear a fancy dress, make her hair look pretty or wait for Prince Charming to come rescue her. In fact, she'd much rather be in charge of her own fate.
Which is actually the first applaud-able thing going on here. This might be the first Disney film with a princess with no prince to pine after. In fact, Merida's suitors are one of the main gags here. And the plot really gets going because she's trying to get away from them.
Being the kingdom's only princess, Merida's fate seems sealed to become a delegating dowager just like her mother. But with the help of her own hardheadedness, some will-o'-the-wisps, a wood-carving witch and a spell gone wrong, she turns her mother into a bear. Which is where things get kind of sticky and, well, shticky. The queen-who's-now-a-bear-but-still-acting-like-a-human bit just doesn't really seem up to Pixar's normal standard of groundbreaking entertainment, and actually feels remarkably recycled.
There are certainly some laugh out loud moments in this movie and it is really quite visually stunning, but sadly the use of 3D effects are put to no good use, even though there are really a lot of good opportunities.
All in all, Pixar fans will probably want to add this film to their collections, it just might not get as much play as the rest of them.