Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: Brave

Brave can best be summed by it's character design. The two leads (the mother and daughter) are realistically designed and proportioned, whereas all of the other characters are much more cartoonish. It's a microcosm of the movie as a whole, because there seem to be two movies happening at once, one a fairly serious and quite good fantasy movie, the other an average broad fantasy/comedy. This inability to focus on one or the other is probably due to the movie's infamous troubled production and the film is the poorer for it.

The plot is devoted to Merida, a princess is a fictionalized version of Medieval Scotland. She is has recently come of age and a tournament is being held by her mother for her hand. However as you may quickly guess, Merida is not particularly interested in getting married, and the tournament sets her at odds with her mother. She goes seeking a spell to fix this, but as is often the case, she words it improperly to the witch who gives it to her and this causes...problems. The way the problems manifest themselves isn't precisely a surprise if you're watching the movie, but the trailers and press have avoided spoiling it so I'll do the same.

The film is, put simply, gorgeous to look at it, easily one of Pixar's best looking movies. Hair is one of the hardest things to get right in computer animation, but they do a fantastic job with Merida's. The landscapes are so amazing that the movie seems it needs to pause every so often to show us them (that's not a complaint, just a statement). It also has solid enough script, which balances it's two leads very well and manages to humanize them both rather exceptionally.

But, and here we're getting to the issues, the plot has problems. Not the story mind, the story is just fine. No, the plot and the reasons are kind of hard to identify. Firstly, the movie is structured rather wonkily. The movie has pushed past it's first act and is well into the second, when suddenly a new issue comes up and the second act seems to restart almost, which is a tiny bit off putting. It's not a deal breaker, but it is kind of weird.

The other major issue is that, outside the main 2 characters, everyone in the movie is essentially a cartoon character. All of the other characters exist essentially for extended comedy sequences, none of which are exceedingly funny and all of which are at violent odds with the much more serious tone of the rest of the film. The film comes most alive during the third act when they finally ditch the comedy bits and focus on the darker stuff (most notably a series of action sequences, at least one of which is shockingly brutal, by kids movies standards).

It seems weird to say this after I just spent two paragraphs ragging on it, but I actually liked this film. It's nice looking, the soundtrack is amazing (even if they do choose a couple songs with lyrics that grate), the story is mostly engaging and the characters are interesting. It's not nearly as good as Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, but that's far from saying it's bad. So if you're looking for my advice regarding this movie, I'm gonna give it a recommendation. It's not perfect, but what is?

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he found the fact that there was a character named Macguffin really distracting.

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