Pixar creates ‘Brave’ new world with feisty princess
Pixar creates ‘Brave’ new world with feisty princess

When Pixar is at the top of its game it cranks out warm, heartfelt, exciting, funny, wholly-original movies. “Brave” is a wonderful example of Pixar at its best.
It’s become frighteningly easy to take Pixar for granted as even when this venerable animation studio slips up (like with last summer’s lackluster “Cars 2”) they are still producing what by anyone else’s standards would be considered superb family entertainment.
With “Brave,” Pixar is back in stride as we are whisked away to the enchanted Scottish Highlands, where we meet the bold and daring medieval princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald).
With a headful of fiery red hair and a personality to match, Merida wants nothing to do with the prim and proper life of a princess, preferring instead to spend her days climbing mountains and firing her bow and arrow with a skill level that would make Robin Hood feel inadequate.
This quietly pleases her rough-and-tumble, peg-legged father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), but endlessly perturbs her stately mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), who is determined to sculpt her daughter into a proper lady.
This mother-daughter conflict that is the heart and soul of “Brave” comes to a head when Merida comes of age and is to be married off to ensure the stability of the kingdom.
The clans assemble and the Lords Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane), MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), and Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) offer up their eldest sons to compete for Merida’s hand.
Merida refuses to participate and rides off into the forest, where she discovers the home of an eccentric old witch (Julie Walters), who offers up a spell that will allow Merida to change her fate (struggling with the accents, my 5-year-old daughter asked me, “Daddy, why does she want to change her feet?).
Merida enthusiastically receives the spell, but the consequences aren’t exactly what she bargained for.
Visually, “Brave” is as spectacular as you would expect, making it is easy to become immersed in this vibrant and rich world.
Writers and directors Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell are all seasoned animators who have paid their dues working in the trenches of Pixar and Disney, and this is their first time to helm a project that is all theirs.
Their greenness shows at times. “Brave” isn’t as tight and polished as some of Pixar’s grander efforts, but the studio has built such a sound infrastructure that the frayed edges only barely peek out behind the framework of expert storytelling.
There are plenty of laughs to be found in the movie, most of which are earned by Merida’s three mischievous little brothers, who work with devilishly silent efficiency.
But when all is said and done, this is Merida’s movie, and although she has some lessons to learn, she is the perfect princess for the modern age.
She is strong, resourceful, and confident. She takes charge of her life instead of flitting about the forest waiting for her prince to come.
Of all the animated princesses to come down the pike, Merida is the one I hope my daughter emulates the most, minus the bow and arrow, of course. I don’t think our cats could handle the stress.
“Brave” is rated PG for some scary action and rude humor.

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