Brave - Cinema Review

'Pixar still do this sort of tale - any sort of tale - better than most.'

In time, Brave may be seen as a watershed moment for Pixar, when the legacy of this period in the studio's history is written. As many have been quick to point out, this is their first princess. Gone (just about) are the talking animals and the normally inanimate objects, personified. Diminished are the massively caricatured humans; Fergus (Billy Connolly) may be twice the size of anyone else in the film, but he isn't Toy Story's Al or The Incredibles' Mr Incredible; Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and Elinor (Emma Thompson) are startlingly normal. As many have astutely recognised, this is less a Pixar film, more a Pixar-does-Disney film.

This leaves the studio at a crossroads. Yes, Brave is an 'original' adventure, in the same way that Wall.E and Up were, but, unlike those films, its story is familiar and the tricks it has up its sleeve few. Merida is a princess at war with her parents - aren't they all - who has to make a grave mistake in order to realise the error of her ways and reconcile her extended family. As narratives go Pixar are hardly up there this time, chalking another notch in their, at one time, never-ending wheel of invention.

It means that, for the most part, Brave is not about to become anyone's favourite Pixar film. That sounds like it is a very high yardstick by which to measure but this is a studio built on using high yardsticks and then constantly having to build even higher ones. They used to set out every time to invent something new and climb even higher (the short that proceeds Brave, La Luna, shows that they can still do that) yet for much of Brave they settle for calling to mind the past and plodding along in its furrow.

And yet, Pixar still do this sort of tale - any sort of tale - better than most. Towards the end of Brave you feel threat and fear, start to question whether everyone will come out alive, even though you feel assured they will. This isn't the tear-jerking incident at the end of Toy Story 3, where all the toys club together to face their 'certain' doom, but you can see that it's from the same people. The dread is real and it is borne out well.

The characters too are well-drawn in big splashes of humorous lineage. The father-son relationships between Merida's suitors and their fathers are hilarious visually, a fact not quite reflected in the script and the whole of Merida's own family; from father to nanny to horse, has recognisable echoes of kinship.

Next up for Pixar in this period is a selection of films which seem built on a desire to live both in the world of Brave and in the world of Toy Story, Wall.E and Up. Their original takes on the currently untitled film which 'Takes You Inside the Mind', The Good Dinosaur and the idea based around Día de los Muertos could be new Pixar watermarks. There's less hope for Monsters University and Finding Nemo 2. They'll still be good films though. Because good films are what Pixar do.

Look further...

Vue are running a Brave competition to win a Scottish adventure holiday, a Sony Bravia HD TV and bundles more stuff over on their facebook page.


  1. I loved the animation but had a big problem when The mother changes. It turned into a sitcom. Nice Review. I agree with you on La Luna

    1. There are definitely problems with it. Not sure which bit they begin at but its not as inspiring as Pixar's other films, that's for sure.