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Story-telling has always been Pixar’s strong point. They gripped you with fresh stories and extremely memorable and relatable characters in films like Toy Story and Wall-E. Brave, however, feels a bit formulaic and halfway through the film you feel you’re walking on familiar territory. Although, the use of a female protagonist is a first for Pixar, the film’s story and structure are banal and uninteresting.Read more
This has been a year of a large number of progressive, yet forgettable films. Starting with Mirror Mirror and Snow White and The Hunstmen, both of which are bolder adaptations of the age-old Snow White fairytale. The focus has been on subverting the largely patriarchal undertones that fairy tales impart with.
Pixar’s newest film Brave immediately caught everyone’s attention with its trailers, involving a gallant, motor-mouth girl protagonist (for the first time in 17 years) with archery ambitions. Princess Merida (the protagonist) is feisty, but Brave is predictable, preachy and yes, forgettable.
Brave tells the story of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), who feels stifled by her mother’s conditioned upbringing. Her mother (Emma Thompson) tries her best to raise Merida like a lady, but Merida’s interests lie in horse-back riding, archery and adrenalin-pumping activities. It all comes crumbling down for her when she is summoned to wed her father’s fellow clan chief’s son.
Fundamentally, the fact that a young girl is used as a protagonist is charming – you have a Hunger Games – Katniss Evergreen hangover but soon the predictable story-line takes over and pours water all over your expectations. There is humour in many of the beginning scenes, between her father King Fergus and her mother (typical husband-wife banter over the child). The Scottish countryside is beautifully animated, with its myriad of colors and depth in landscape – and it’s a relief to have a different geographical region being portrayed in the film.
My biggest issue with Brave though is the fact that no other character is even remotely as memorable as Merida. Merida herself stands out visually, because of her hair and her Scottish accent. The witch could have been much more menacing, more in the lines of Cruella DeVille (101 Dalmations) or Ursula (The Little Mermaid). A memorable villain always makes the pursuit of the protagonist double-fold, and therefore, coupled with predictably paced action scenes, the film becomes monotonous towards the latter half.
Brave had immense potential – the protagonist Merida is visually memorable and relatable. She’s the kind of character who if treated well, could have a roaring fan following among children. Coupled with an original story-line, a menacing villain and a certain universal quality that so much of Pixar’s earlier films have, it could have been a charming film. As it is, however, Brave is a letdown.
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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