Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman & Steve Purcell
Running time: 100 minutes
Seriously, how good has Pixar been of late? I didn’t see Cars 2, mainly because Cars 1 felt like the slow cousin the other Pixar films hate having to play with; but the last few years have really been Pixar’s finest. WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3 were all such massive triumphs of children’s animation combined with deep adult themes, and i would consider them examples of cinema at its best. That’s not to say that the older Pixar films weren’t any good (the old Toy Story‘s and Finding Nemo were particular favourites!) but these later ones have felt more grown up, as though the people at Pixar were allowing their films to grow up alongside the people who have been watching them since Toy Story in 1995. But sadly, I cannot count Pixar’s latest achievement to be among it’s most recent siblings.
Now Showing this week is Brave, directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell with Pixar Animation Studios. Brave tells the story of a Scottish princess named Merida who has never taken to the princess lifestyle. She hates the long sessions with her mother teaching her to be proper and how to behave and would much rather be roaming the wilds with her bow and arrow. But sadly, she is to be married off to one of the sons of the outlying clans, so Merida sets off to try and find a way in which to change her fate and perhaps a witch she stumbles upon in the woods might be able to help her… If I say anymore than that I shall feel like I’m spoiling the film as I was quite proud that the trailer gave away no information as to what follows from that point on and I was genuinely surprised!
As I said earlier, I don’t feel like I can count Brave to be among the recent deeper adult Pixar films. That’s not to say that it is a bad film, it most certainly isn’t; however the film never really tackles any themes or concepts beyond the conventional children’s adventure. Another reviewer described Brave in an excellent way which I tend to agree with, they said:
“This is less a film in the lustrous Pixar tradition than a Disney fairy tale told with Pixar’s virtuosity.”
– Joel Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Brave does indeed feel more like one of the really good cartoon Disney movies that has been made with Pixar’s amazing visual quality. The story is fairly conventional for the genre, a princess defying what is expected of her by her parents and through attempting to change it learns her lesson, as do her parents. But again, this isn’t a bad thing! I loved those kind of stories as a child and I still enjoy them now, plus it had a few genuine surprises which is always welcomed. The story is engaging, funny, scary and thrilling; however it is still a children’s fairy tale and nothing more. Where Toy Story 3 was an enthralling tale of toys trying to return to their owner once more, it was underlain with issues such as facing one’s own mortality and giving a sea of faces to the childhoods we all have to leave behind. It’s that little extra level of depth that makes Pixar movies a cut above the rest.