Last year, Pixar gave us Cars 2. Critics and audience members alike were appalled at the product. It was no where near the masterpieces that Pixar had brought us previously. But while it wasn't perfect, I still enjoyed Cars 2. But I definitely didn't want Pixar to keep making movies like Cars 2. I wanted more masterpieces. So Brave comes along. The film that everyone is hoping will save the day and remind us all why we love Pixar.
Unfortunately, many critics aren't all that impressed with Brave, and while MOST of the critics liked it, the reception has been a little disappointing, especially when you consider how well the rest of the Pixar films have done. Brave is being considered one of the worst Pixar films.
But I think this is bizarre. I'm not quite sure why this is being met with such lukewarm reception. Brave is nothing short of a masterpiece. In fact, it's one of Pixar's BETTER films, in my opinion.
Brave (originally titled The Bear and the Bow) is about a princess named Merida who wants to be an archer. Unfortunately for her, Merida's mother, Elinor, wants Merida to be a bit more ladylike. Merida puts up with her mother, but when she's being forced to marry before she's even ready. There's an argument between the Merida and Elinor, a witch, and next thing you know Elinor is a bear. So Merida must change her mother back to a human and at the same time, regain her bond with her mother.
Brave has all the ingredients that every good movie needs. For one, the characters are very memorable. I doubt any of them will replace anyone's favorite Pixar character, but they're funny and well developed.
Also, Brave is very funny. It's not as humorous as Up or the Toy Story films, but there's enough gags to entertain adults and kids. Admittedly, some of the humor feels a bit more tilted towards the Dreamworks canon, but I still found myself laughing often.
The last main ingredient; heart. And Brave has heart to spare. Pixar has almost always managed to make me cry, I don't mind saying. But then came Cars 2. Sure it made me laugh, and the animation impressed, but I never felt any real emotional connection with anything going onscreen.
But Brave reminded me why I look forward to Pixar films every year. I did cry at times, and there were times when I held back tears. Brave is one of the most moving pictures I've ever seen. Seeing Merida and Elinor's relationship grow as the film progresses, and the sacrifices they make for each other is particularly moving. Rarely do I feel so engaged with the characters.
Some critics were complaining about the uneven tones. From soft mother-daughter scenes, to boy-ish humor. I actually LIKED the shifts in tone. There were times when things got a little tragic and humor really helped to lighten the mood.
Patrick Doyle composed the score for Brave. This is his first time scoring a Pixar film, and having heard very little of Doyle's scores, I wasn't sure how I'd like his music. Well, Doyle has proved himself a hundred times over. I was extremely impressed with the score, and hope to see Doyle compose more Pixar films in the future.
The voice acting is, as usual for a Pixar film, superb. The voices are a little more recognizable this time around, but in the end, I wouldn't have changed anything. Kelly MacDonald does a more than respectable job as Merida, while Emma Thompson does excellently as mother (though unfortunately, she spends most of the movie as a bear). And Billy Connoly does a hilarious job as Fergus, Merida's rambunctious father.
And naturally, the animation is gorgeous. Easily outdoing any of Pixar's previous films. Trees, water, mist, hair, all of the above. Pixar does an eleven-out-of-ten job on their animation, making Brave the best looking animated film of the year thus far.
Brave is being unfairly labeled as one of Pixar's weaker films, and a merely decent film. Brave is, in fact, a masterpiece and hopefully the so-so reviews and the female protagonist won't stop male audience members from seeing it. Cars 2 was decent, but left me nervous as to Pixar's future. Brave has put all those fears to rest. Pixar is back baby: Hopefully forever.
Note: Brave was preceded by a short film entitled La Luna. This was both imaginative and magical. Don't come late or you'll miss it, and you will not want to miss this.