The arrival of the newest instalment from Pixar
The arrival of the
newest instalment from Pixar comes bearing a sturdy weight on its shoulders.
From a tiny lost fish to a lovesick robot and a gourmet rat, the company of the
little lamp has the rare capability of pushing visual frontiers to
heart-stopping new depths whilst developing the sort of narrative that makes
grown men bawl their eyes out.
The early footage of Brave’s button-nosed heroine Merida,
voiced by the charming Kelly MacDonald,
was enough to stir excitement and soothe any worries that Pixar wouldn’t be
able to top the optical splendour of 2009’s Up. That painstakingly dense mop of hair that makes up most of
Merida is a character in itself, as well as a definitive two-finger salute to Disney’s Tangled.
It’s this signature coiffe that contributes heavily to Brave
being the most beautiful Pixar film yet, merging swooping landscapes with Ghibli-esque woodland spirits and the
obvious “aw” factor, presented as Merida’s three infant brothers, who are
wisely absent for most of the film.
Pixar’s first heroine, Merida is every inch the rebel,
noisily challenging the timely tradition that she is to be wed to the
first-born of one of the neighbouring clans and throwing a monumental tantrum
at any opportunity. Infuriated by her overbearing mother and hammy father, she
heads to the forest to seek a woodland witch and a change of fate.
Of course nothing goes to plan and Merida is stuck in the
stickiest of situations. The plot has been tightly concealed thus far bar shots
of the giant demonic bear Mor’du; a terrifying beast that will have younger
children hiding behind their chairs.
Having already cost her father his leg, Mor’du may just cost the plucky
Merida her life as our ginger heroine desperately tries to undo the chaos she’s
wrought. Even the few sickly
encounters between mother and daughter are never able to get in the way of the
action, writers Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews allowing Merida to
maintain a defiant streak throughout which is refreshing.
The voice cast is excellent; Billy Connolly’s illustrious tones suit the fleshy wall of man that
makes up Merida’s father Fergus and Emma
Thompson’s Scottish accent as Queen Elinor shifts from shrill to nurturing
effortlessly. MacDonald may arguably
be a little old to be voicing a teenage girl at the age of 36 but she still has
the bold sulkiness to pull off the headstrong, flame-haired Merida and Brave’s
biggest assets are its strong female protagonists; Merida and Elinor battling
each other as much as they battle the demonic bear.
Visually, there’s just no beating Pixar, from the lush
Scottish countryside to the flawless motion sequences and the sort of textures
that make Sully look like a porcupine. La
Luna, the short film that opens the main feature in true Pixar tradition is
undoubtedly one of the most stunning pieces of computer animation to play in
theatres to date and is a true reflection of the fact that 17 years after a
cowboy and a spaceman changed the face of animation we can continue to be
amazed. Dark and playful, Brave is a grand fairytale adventure on a par with
the best of Pixar.