Jun 242012


A Scottish princess wants to break tradition and turn away from her destiny, but at what cost? Check out the review of the latest Pixar film Brave after the jump

Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) is a young princess who wishes to be fiercely independent but is trapped by her mother and the obligations she is expected to meet as princess. Merida is far from a storybook princess – she loves archery, horse riding, and rough-and-tumble. When her parents inform her that the heads of the three other clans are coming to the castle to present their heirs as potential suitors to Merida, the weight of her future becomes too much to bear, and she begins to rebel.

During the festivities in which the Queen (voiced by Emma Thompson) and Merida are supposed to pick the winning suitor, Merida and her mother have an awful fight and Merida takes off into the forest. Merida can’t make her mother understand that she doesn’t want to be forced into a marriage, she wants to make her on path in life, while the Queen can’t get through to Merida how important the traditions are to maintaining peace and celebrating their collective history. In the forest, Merida comes across an old witch and bargains for a spell which will make her mother change her mind. Spells tend to have side-effects though, and this one might end up causing far more harm than good…


The story in this film is simple, but the themes are rich and the characters are so fully realised, that it all comes together in an entertaining and often moving way. It is so refreshing to see such a strong female protagonist, who is doing more than searching for her prince charming. I was often reminded of Studio Ghibli films while watching Brave due to the head-fast, strong female characters and the links between nature and magic – it is certainly far more Ghibli than Disney, and for that I am thankful.

Merida is such a delightful character, and she is one which I’m sure many people can relate to. She has the weight of expectation on her shoulders – it seems as if fate has already decided her path. However, Merida refuses to believe this (in fact the film scoffs at the concept of fate), and does everything in her power to be able to make her own choices, even if they aren’t the right ones. The Queen is also a relatable character despite her stubbornness – she is both a Queen who needs to uphold traditions, and a mother who loves her child and wants the best for her. The exploration of the mother-daughter relationship is the strongest feature in this film. I could see both sides of the picture, and also felt the pain they were both causing each other – they clearly love each other despite their inability to see eye-to-eye (remember being a teenager and arguing with your mum?). Their relationship is extremely believable and the developments [in it] felt like they happened very organically.


The King (voiced wonderfully by Billy Connelly) is an amusing character, who loves his family and his food. He is obsessed with finding the bear which took his foot, and spends many an hour telling the often embellished story of how he lost it. Finally, the triplet brothers of Merida add great humour and energy to the film. They are constantly getting into trouble and causing a ruckus in the castle – their antics are the source of many of the great action set-pieces.

It goes without saying that Brave is beautifully animated, right down to the last whisper of hair on Merida’s forehead. Her hair is stunning, and there isn’t a moment when the animation fails – like the horses hair, and fur of the forest animals, her hair moves so naturally and feels so real. The score is also fantastic (although it has a lot of bagpipes, and I hate bagpipes more than anything else), and perfectly reflects the harsh beauty of the Scottish landscape. The film is perfectly paced, and there wasn’t one single moment where I felt bored or thought that time was wasted – it really was thoroughly engaging throughout.

Overall, Brave is a sweet, moving and enjoyable film, with an extremely enduring and relatable female protagonist. The exploration of the mother-daughter relationship is interesting and very relatable – it really is refreshing to see two such strong female characters on the big-screen. Brave is a return to form for Pixar – a family film that can truly be enjoyed by all ages.


The Facts

Director(s): Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Writer(s):  Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell, Irene Mecchi
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Runtime: 100 minutes
Release date(s): Australia & New Zealand: June 21 2012; USA: June 22 2012