Brave, the latest and highly anticipated animation from storytelling greats Disney Pixar (WALL-E, Up, Toy Story) has finally arrived in cinemas, writes Natalie Stendall.
In this feisty and spirited picture, Merida (Kelly Macdonald), a Scottish Princess who prefers archery to needlework and the outdoors to the trappings of royalty, has come of age. The King (Billy Connolly) who has so far given in to Merida’s undomesticated side is convinced by the Queen (Emma Thompson) to seek a suitor for his daughter. The eldest sons of Scotland’s three clans are put forward to compete for Merida’s hand. Not ready for marriage, Merida defiantly runs away to the forest in search of a way to change her fate.
While this fairytale-like story might seem more Disney than it does Pixar, the distinct lack of a love interest takes this film in a very different direction. Pixar have a sublime way of using surreal situations to ground real, universal human emotions and Brave is no exception. In Brave the heart of the story is the problematic relationship between mother and daughter and, as the two are drawn together, Brave feels like the first genuinely feminist Disney picture.
If that isn’t enough to convince you of Brave’s merit, the animation is beautiful and the level of detail astounding. It’s better than anything we’ve seen from Pixar before and is likely to leave other studios playing catch up once again. From Merida’s flowing red hair, to the moss on the forest rocks and the luminous, magical will-o’-the-wisps, not a detail has been missed. Brave also uses its 3D to stunning effect, providing the depth and realism without any distractions, blurring or see-through moments.
If there is a downside to Brave, there’s less comedy than we’ve come to expect from a Pixar flick. Most of the fun is brought by Merida’s three pesky brothers who get up to almost all of their mischief stealing cakes and refusing to eat their Haggis. There’s also a few comical jabs at Scottish stereotypes - an incomprehensible Scottish accent for instance - but the Scotland represented in Brave is far from cliche.
Not half as funny as other Pixar ventures but with oodles of spirit, emotion and originality, Brave is pretty close to beautiful, animated perfection. If you see one animation this summer, let it be Brave.
Running Time: 100 minutes