Film Review: Brave

Disney Pixar’s Brave is visually sumptuous, much like other animated features from the company. Unlike their recent films however, this Scotland-set tale does not pack the same emotional punch.

Merida is a princess who prefers to practice archery than to be schooled in the customs of her position by her mother. When the ritual of her betrothal approaches, Merida is dead set against the traditions of selecting a husband. Merida and her mother clash, with some disastrous consequences…

Brave adheres to some family tropes, in terms of the animated Disney feature. Merida’s struggle is between following her own wishes and bearing the weight of responsibility that her position calls for. This tension is at play in most Disney animated films. Moreover, a parental clash is at the centre of Brave; not unlike The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas and others.

Brave differentiates itself from previous Disney efforts in a pivotal way. The emphasis in most of these films is in having the freedom to find happiness. This usually relates to a partner of choice, rather than one the protagonist’s standing demands. Brave distinguishes itself, and perhaps heralds a new era in Disney thinking, by featuring a protagonist who is happy in her independence and has no desire to marry. It is this aspect of the film, which is played out openly but not forcefully, that is most refreshing.

This recent effort from Disney Pixar does however lack the emotional pull of WALL-E, Toy Story 3 and others. The story is engaging enough, and unfolds to include fantasy and legend. Notwithstanding, it does not evoke the type of strong emotion that the aforementioned films excel at inspiring. That is not to say Brave is a bad film in any way, but merely that it is unlikely that viewers will form the same kind of attachment to it.

The animation in Brave is fantastic. The use of colour is superb, with the vibrancy of Merida’s hair contrasting nicely with the greener backdrops. Some great voice work is provided by Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson and others.

Brave is an enjoyable family film that should satisfy viewers. It is unlikely to take on classic status, unlike several of Disney Pixar’s films of the last decade.