Brave

Although Brave is the least Pixar-ish movie of the studio’s catalogue, it still manages to hold up the Pixar standard on an animation level. Viewers might not be as captivated with Brave’s story as they were with Toy Story 3, UP, or Finding Nemo. The story is cliche and plays it safe but with a likeable cast the movie is entertaining enough to be worth the viewing. Brave is definitely a step in the right direction after last year’s small plummet with Cars 2. The movie features impressive visuals, amazingly detailed animation, great characters and a soundtrack featuring a lot of original songs. Brave sets a good foundation for Pixar to come back and tell more stories with this world that they’ve created. The few missteps with Brave hinders it from being grouped with some of the best Pixar’s movies but the strong cast and animation is enough to be good Pixar movie.

When I was younger I remember I used to come home from morning school and immediately start watching Toy Story. There were so many hours spent with my dad playing the SEGA GENESIS version of the Toy Story game, which in reality was me watching him frustratingly trying to master the brutally unforgiving game. I remember many hours going on, A Bug’s Life inspired, ‘adventures’ as a kid. Even with the newer movies, I couldn’t stop thinking about UP for days after I saw it and I still find myself marveling at the movie from time to time. I’ll never forget the way both my mom and I teared up when we watched the Toy Story 3 debut trailer and found out Andy was going to college much like how I was for the first time. Pixar movies have been so prevalent in my life and I, like most, have become such a diehard Pixar fan. So it’s no surprise that I was eagerly anticipating Brave, having followed it since it was still titled, The Bear and the Bow.

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When the trailer first debuted I retained much of my excitement but with new worries. There was something different about Brave, something that I still have trouble placing a finger on. There’s something about Brave that just doesn’t feel or look like a Pixar movie. That’s not to say that the movie isn’t gorgeous. Which as one could expect, this is hands down a stunning display of animation. From the beautifully animated forests, the dark and looming castles, and of course the lovable and happy DunBroch family. The main character herself, Merida, is beautifully animated. Just watch any trailer with her in it and you can see the painstakingly detailed animation in her frizzy red hair. Even the movements of the animals are detailed and fantastic, whether it’s the heavy muscle shaking footsteps of the bears, or the fluid galloping of the horses. It’s amazing to see how far Pixar has come when you go back and watch Toy Story, or even their first ever short, The Adventures of Andre and Wally B. Pixar fans need not worry when it comes to the standard of animation that they’ve set for themselves. Brave, despite having a different look than the other Pixar movies, most definitely holds up in this category and continues to push the quality of animation.

Another fear of mine regarding Brave was how unoriginal the story seemed. Take a look at Pixar’s catalogue and you’ll find an impressive number of movies all with fresh and original ideas. Brave however felt like it was taking us down a typical fairy tale princess type story. Which that’s exactly what we got but their execution of the story was done well enough that it still remains entertaining. I feel as though the humor was a bit more childish than before, missing a lot of the clever jokes from previous films. There were a few characters that just seemed to stick out from the rest of the story and felt more annoying than they were funny. The witch and her bird for example just didn’t sit well with me and I felt disconnected with any scenes with her in it. However great action and beautiful scenery more than make up for the less than perfect humor.

The movie itself is cliché, so there’s very little coming that you couldn’t guess, which may rub some viewers the wrong way. Personally I really enjoyed the film, but I feel as though on a general level, viewers might not be as captivated as they were with say, Toy Story 3, UP, or Finding Nemo. The middle act of the movie seems to drag on a bit and it’s not until the end of the movie that it starts to pick back up again. The pacing is a bit inconsistent and it creates a lot of moments of disconnect.

Another compliant is that I feel that the two main characters, Merida and her mom, Elinor, didn’t grow much as characters. At least I didn’t feel the growth was adequately displayed on screen. The major point between them is that Merida wants to be her own person and doesn’t want to be a ‘lady’ and just marry off to some suitor. Elinor on the other hand has strong feelings about what it means to be a lady, and she feels as though these traditions should be carried on. There’s a moment in the film where they have their epiphanies and begin to see each other’s points but it just felt way too rushed for me.

As cliché as Brave was that movie is still a heartwarming tale with great characters to feel for. The whole family is very likeable and you can’t help but smile or laugh at them. There are a lot of subtleties whether it was in the inflection of their voice, minor body language, or just the way they interacted with each other that made them feel like such a solid and awesome family. They’re one of the reasons this film works so well. The family anchors down the movie and offer a lot of enjoyable moments and allows us to emotionally connect with them easily.

It’s always interesting to see how dark Pixar will take their movies, seeing as they are kid’s movies. With UP we had the montage at the beginning that dealt with heavy topics such as the infertility, sickness, and death. Even Toy Story 3 took us to an extremely dark moment towards the end of the film. Brave doesn’t take us anywhere as dark as that but I’m a bit amazed how much they pushed their action sequences. The final act of the movie was the strongest section of the movie and a lot of it was due to some of the intense action scenes with the Bear Mor’du. It was violent and intense and not like what I’ve seen in animated movies before.

Last complaint I feel as though there was a lack of a great antagonist. We had Mor’du the giant bear but I felt like they grazed over him a lot. He had three prominent scenes one of which is shown in trailer. I would have like to have seen more from him. I understand that the main focus of the film was between the mom and the daughter but with very little opposing them it felt like their triumph was never in any danger.

The thing I think I loved the most about Brave is the potential of it. On a story level Brave might not be ranked among the best of Pixar’s movie, but I feel we have a great foundation for more stories. Although I’ll take a new movie over a sequel any day I realize that sequels are inevitable. Brave does a great job of setting up a little bit of lore and a lot of back-stories to work with. There are still plot lines to explore with Merida herself that I wouldn’t mind seeing Pixar revisit the world of Brave again.

Although Brave is the least Pixar-ish movie of the studio’s catalogue, it still manages to hold up the Pixar standard on an animation level. Viewers might not be as captivated with Brave’s story as they were with Toy Story 3, UP, or Finding Nemo but with a likeable cast the movie is entertaining enough to be worth the viewing. Brave is definitely a step in the right direction after last year’s small plummet with Cars 2. The movie features impressive visuals, amazingly detailed animation, great characters and a soundtrack featuring a lot of original songs. Brave sets a good foundation for Pixar to come back and tell more stories with this world that they’ve created. The few missteps with Brave hinders it from being grouped with some of the best Pixar’s movies but the strong cast and animation is enough to be good Pixar movie.

Interested in writing reviews or news posts for Thinking Cinematic? Contact me at rrsolis@me.com! You can also send your guest reviews there too!

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