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.

Film Review: Beauty and the Beast 3D

Twenty-one years after it first graced cinema screens, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast gets a 3D re-release. Despite the lapse of two decades, the film is still as beguiling as ever.

Living in a provencial French town, Belle longs for a more exciting life. Journeying to the fair to show his new invention, Belle’s father Maurice gets lost. He happens upon a castle, whose owner is less than accommodating. Belle’s desire for adventure is about to be fulfilled in a way she never would have imagined…

Beauty and the Beast is perhaps the pinnacle of Disney’s animated output. The film is difficult to fault; it is a fantastic example of what ‘Team Disney’ got right. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise’s film is in many ways the quintessential animated fairy tale.

Like other Disney films, Beauty and the Beast adapts his source material to fit in with Disney tropes. The story is appealing because of the well-rounded characters that populate the film. Belle and the Beast are engaging and endearing, whilst supporting characters provide a good deal of humour. Belle appears to a be a blueprint for many of the subsequent Disney Princesses, although her independent qualities also feature in The Little Mermaid‘s Ariel.

All the elements combine perfectly in Beauty and the Beast. The story is interspersed with some truly classic songs. There is a lightness and warmth to the film, even in moments of peril. The humour effectively balances the more dramatic moments, there is never a prolonged period without some laughs. Moreover, Beauty and the Beast should appeal to adults as much as it does to children.

The 3D is noticeable form the very beginning of the film. Given that the film was never intended to be exhibited in 3D, it actually works rather well in this form. The animation holds up well, despite advances made in this medium in the intervening years. The ballroom sequence is still as enchanting as seeing it for the very first time.

Disney aficionados and fans of high quality animation should aim to catch Beauty and the Beast on its limited 3D re-release. It is a rare delight for fans of the film to see it on the big screen.