Reviewed Jun 15, 2012
Michael Effenberger’s review:
There's a whole lot of soul-searching in Brave. What's my fate? What if I'm not satisfied with it? What if I want to change it? The film answers these existential questions with acts of self-empowerment, empathy, and above all else, bravery. Speaking of that so-sought-after characteristic, Pixar showed a lot of it when they chose to break the well-established princess mold. Gone is the passive princess waiting for her beloved; Merida means business. She's stubborn, spoiled, and... well, an angsty teen who just wants to break out of the house/castle. Elinor, her mother, demands perfection from her daughter and, in turn, her subjects. Serving as Merida's foil, she seems to represent the old and established rule not just of the film's kingdom, but of fictional queens in general. However, when the film abandons its royal dressings and delves into the mystical magic of the land, a memorable role reversal occurs that's reminiscent of a mix between "Freaky Friday" and Dreamworks' "Brother Bear." Panic ensues, and the two must journey the countryside to break the spell.
Directors Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews do a fine job of grounding their central characters in reality amidst such a fantastical setting, allowing for some truly touching family moments throughout the film. Pixar's visual design is as strong as ever, running the gamut from breathtaking vistas to intricate celtic designs; when paired with Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis' work, one is hardpressed not to fall in love with the Scottish highlands. It's a beautiful film, and could quite possibly be the best animated feature this year. As another addition to Pixar's fine catalogue, I recommend braving the crowds of theatergoers to catch this film.