And yet again I find myself swimming upstream, just like a salmon, oh wait…
Screenplay By: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi, & Steve Purcell
Directed By: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, & Steve Purcell
This is the third time that I have watched Brave, but it’s the first time I watched Brave on a big flat screen TV that rendered the BD disc in the intended 1080p format. Suffice to say the first words I have to say after all of that are; wow! I was in awe of the beauty of the animation in Brave. It starts with Merida’s flowing locks, if ever there was a light post signaling how wonderful computer animation can look it is Merida’s hair. It’s beautifully rendered, and it moves and flows with the wind and the movements of the character. I know hair may not seem like something to go gaga over, but it truly ties all of the animation together. The action in the background, the lighting, the depth of detail provided, it all stems from Merida’s hair. Those who salivate over beautiful animation should have their fill in Brave.
This being the third time that I’ve watched Brave I was expecting for some complaints to finally crop up. I’m gonna tell you something, that wasn’t the case at all. I liked Brave even more this time out and I thought it was a great film the first two times around. What really hit me this time out with Brave was the economy of the story. I know that lack of story was a common complaint lobbied against Brave by a lot of critics and cinephiles. I’m not about to say that anyone is wrong in their opinions of the story in Brave. But, I disagree as much as one person can disagree when it comes to the effectiveness of the story in Brave. The first moments of the movie establish that the film is a mother and daughter tale. Those first few moments also establish that this is a world that contains magic and that said magic will probably rear its head at some point. From there the story takes on a natural progression of forming around the mother/daughter relationship. Every side story in the film, every bit of magic, and even every moment of broad humor is centered around said relationship. The story in Brave is taut, and extremely efficient in how it lays out its characters and uses them to service the continuation of the story.
As a father of a young daughter I’d also like to tip my hat to the character of Merida. It may not seem like much, but it’s refreshing having a female character who shucks aside the tradition of marriage and classical femininity. Merida is very feminine, but she’s also rugged and capable. She wants to make her own decisions, control her own fate, and learn from her own mistakes. If ever there was an animated princess that I’d be proud for my daughter to emulate it would be Merida. To complete the package Merida is a well rounded character. She isn’t perfect by any means, she’s often wrong and capable of making mistakes. But she grows from her mistakes and she changes as life necessitates change. Merida is a strong female character, capable of action, humor, and loveliness all at the same time.
Perhaps the only area where Brave occasionally slips up is the broadness of its humor. The first couple of times I watched Brave I did feel that the humor was a tad bit off in how broad of an approach it took. However, this time out I felt the humor worked a lot better. In fact I felt it worked so well that I was laughing heartily at all of the jokes, broad and otherwise. It does take the film a few minutes to get back on track after the arrival of the three Scottish lords. But, after Brave finds it footing again the humor falls back in line with the rest of the film and remains engaging throughout the rest of the film.
Most cinephiles and critics can hate on Brave all that they want. I will happily swim against the stream and proclaim how great I find Brave. Mark Andrews’, Brenda Chapman’s, and Steve Purcell’s animated venture is a great and fulfilling ride to be on. Brave is beautiful to look at, with texture and depth in the computer animation that is stunning to behold. The story is concise, well thought out, and very effective in its aims. The character of Merida is a fully realized female role model who also works simply as a character in general. I’m not afraid to say that I think Brave is another great animated feature from Pixar.