Friday, 29 June 2012
On first glance, you could easily mistake Pixar’s latest film as just another fairytale about a princess’ magical adventures. With its divine castles, enigmatic witches and enchanted forests, it employs all the conventions that the studio’s father company, Disney, have utilized for years. However, as one might imagine from the innovative team behind some of the decade’s most acclaimed releases, there’s far more than meets the eye to this summer’s highly anticipated animation Brave.
While other fairytale princess’ often aspire to a life of luxury with a charming, attractive suitor, Brave’s star Merida – Pixar’s first female lead – has little interest in the finding a man with whom she will one day rule the kingdom. Instead, she is feisty, wild and harnesses a desire to follow in her father’s valiant footsteps, often adventuring into the dangerous outskirts of her kingdom bow and arrow in hand.
However, her mother, Queen Elinor, instead believes Merida should adhere to the customs of what is expected of her as a woman. In one standout scene, for example, she attempts to force her untamed, fiery hair - imagine Rebekah Brooks has just stepped out of a sauna - into a domesticated style more befitting to an heiress to the throne. Only our heroine quickly abandons this etiquette in typically theatrical fashion.
Tensions between mother and daughter come to a head when Elinor surprises Merida with the news that the first-born sons of each family will compete for her hand in marriage. Outraged, she resolves to find a way to change her unwavering mother’s mind, a decision that triggers an adventure in which Merida must put her courage to test.
With clear undertones of feminism, Brave soars above and beyond your classic fairytales. There’s no Prince Charming to tame Merida and sweep her off her feet once and for all teaching her that marriage is the most important aspect of a woman’s life. Instead, this is a film about finding one’s destiny and pursuing it at all costs. Pixar, as always, capture this journey perfectly with their customary blend of stunning visuals, exciting action and family-friendly comedy.
Sadly, it lacks the wit to excel it to the heights that The Incredibles and Toy Story reached though. The story occasionally falls back on clichés as it propels towards the finale with moments feeling achingly predictable while the humour rarely excels above childish slapstick. It’s only in one moment – a playful reference to the similarly Scottish set The Wicker Man – that Pixar’s intelligence truly shines.
Nonetheless, Brave provides an enjoyable adventure for all ages. Younger audiences will find plenty to love in its gorgeous visuals and lovable lead while older film-buffs will appreciate Pixar’s ability to inject the fairytale genre with a fresh new edge. Consequently, while this is still lesser territory from the innovative geniuses, it’s undoubtedly a step back in the right direction.