If you’ve been keeping up with developments in the world of animated movie news you know that Brave is the first film released by animation powerhouse Pixar to feature a female lead character. That’s right, on their thirteenth effort the lads from Emeryville, California allowed a young woman to take the reins. Quite literally.
Brave is the tale of Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) a feisty young lass who is very capable with a bow and arrow, and extremely skilled at riding horses, from the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch. She lives in a castle with her parents Fergus and Elinor (Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson), and three identical twin (male) siblings.
Merida wants to continue to improve at what she’s good at: archery. Her mother thinks it is time for her to be married, so that the bonds between the existing Scottish clans can be strengthened and peace can continue to reign over the land.
Naturally Merida rebels, deeply offending her mother in the process.
But see, the difference here is, Merida does not want to rebel for the sake of rebellion. She wants her mother to change, to see her point of view.
So naturally, she follows a trail of Will O’ the Wisps that lead her to the home of a witch who grants her a spell that will grant her what she so desperately desires.
If you’re in a ‘Huh? What?’ state of mind right now, you’re sharing my sense of befuddlement.
I had no idea going in that there was a supernatural element to the proceedings in Brave. Which is fine—there is no need to know everything before one sits down to watch a movie. But still.
This is a movie about mothers and daughters and it pushes all the magic buttons. The animation is top notch and like they have done with all their recent features, the folks at Pixar really know how to use 3D to add a certain je ne sais quoi to their films. But…
Right from the design of the lead character, to those magical creatures that lead her astray, to the plot twist that sets up the rest of the movie, I felt like I was watching a giant, feature-length pitch for merchandise to be sold later. I could imagine little girls clamouring for their very own flame-haired dolls. My thumbs twitched towards imaginary joysticks every time those Will O’ the Wisps made an appearance on screen.
And that ending:
I have long held the view that Hollywood is getting increasingly Bollywoodized with each passing year. That means different things for different films; in the case of Brave it simply means that the final credits roll after a truly manipulative finale designed to play a concerto with your heart strings and wreak havoc on your tear ducts.
In my view the maestros at Pixar have put out another beautiful product. Only this time, the string pulling behind the beautiful moving parts is clearly apparent. And not appreciated.