After last summer’s lacklustre merchandise-selling excuse that was Cars 2, Pixar fell off their throne as being considered the best of the best when it comes to the world of animation. Fans of the studio worried they were taking on too many projects and were pushing aside quality for quantity while the lineup from rival studios, such as DreamWorks, Sony Animation, and Universal, started to look more promising as they all began doing what Pixar originally did — tell a great story first and make it look amazing second. You can stop worrying Pixar fans. The studio has returned to form with Brave and it’s a marvel of a film that has a great story behind it and is easily their most beautiful film to date.
Set in a mythical Scotland, Brave tells the story of Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), a strong, independent woman who doesn’t want to be given away to a man for marriage just because that is the tradition of her kingdom. Her mother (voiced by Emma Thompson) is aghast at her decision, while her father (voiced by Billy Connolly) secretly supports her. When Merida decides to go against her family she inadvertently puts a curse on her mother that turns her into a large brown bear. Now she must figure out how to fix the curse before her mother becomes a bear for good.
As I said, this is the most beautiful film Pixar has ever made and the animation is truly magical, especially the way Merida is portrayed. Her red, curly hair is crazy and vibrant and is so realistic you just want to reach into the screen and touch it. Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and Wall-E are all great of examples of how amazing a Pixar film can look. Brave blows them all out of the water in that department.
The writing is also perfect and is a huge leap in the way cartoon princesses should be portrayed from now on. Merida is smart and witty and has a true, independent voice. And while there are a few dark moments, there’s a lot of humour in the film and it is extremely funny and charming.
It’s going to take a lot to top Brave as the best animated film of the year. And whether you take the family or go alone, it’s a definite must-see that you’ll enjoy immensely.
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly
Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Top image: A scene from Brave. Courtesy Disney/Pixar.