Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Sally Kinghorn, Eilidh Fraser, Peigi Barker, Steven Cree, Steve Purcell, Callum O'Neill, Patrick Doyle and John Ratzenberger.
Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman.
Pixar hasn't been on its A-game ever since they made the last year dud, Cars 2. That was the first time we saw Pixar producing a literal "bad" movie which is not something we could have ever imagined an extraordinary animation studio like Pixar producing. The first Cars was a well made movie if not very good and that is exactly the case with 2012's Pixar outing, Brave. The problem with Brave is that it doesn't really comes out as the kind of movie Pixar usually makes. Brave has a Disney vibe all over it and even it might have a Princess that is far from any sensitive cliche Disney Princesses but the treatment with which her story is told is less than spectacular. Now visually it looks like a Pixar movie with the effects and design really stunning but at its heart, its more Disney than Pixar. With movies like WALL.E, UP, Toy Story trilogy and Finding Nemo, Pixar created both visual marvels with interesting stories and great morals that didn't really forced you to get the message. They always excelled in their terms of storytelling each time but unfortunately Brave is a step backward in that sense. This movie is set in Scotland, in the lovely green highlands. Story basically revolves around Merida who is the daughter of King Fergus of Clan DunBroch and Queen Elinor. She grows up to be a very free spirited teenager who wants to live her life on her own terms and doesn't wants to obey the rules. Merida is a skilled archer, she loves her bow and arrows. She is informed by her mother one day that according to the tradition, she is to be betrothed to one of the allied clans. The Highland games are arranged where the first born of every clan has to participate for Merida's hand.
Going against this can cause trouble for her family and her land but at the end of the day, she isn't satisfied with it. During the ceremony, she causes a great deal of chaos which results in falling out between her and her mother. Merida's mother is very concerned about her not being like usual princesses and not living a life like them. Both of them always fight over that and one day, Merida leaves her castle in anger and cuts her family tapestry before that. She is lead to an old witch by will-o'-the-wisp where she is given a cake that will "change her mother". Of course she doesn't really realize how that magical cake would exactly change her mother, change her into another human being or into something not human at all. The movie then follows Merida's struggle to undo what she did and while doing that, she and her mother comes close together. That twist comes off as rather surprising and somewhat bizarre as well. She doesn't really wish for that to happen but her action leads to her mother being changed into a bear. Up till then, the movie seems to be having a good time and it all looks fine but after that, it becomes a usual fare as far as the story goes. There are some comic relives provided by Merida's brothers, the identical triplets: Hamish, Hubert and Harris who are these very naughty children always up to something bad. Merida's voice is provided by Kelly Macdonald who i know from the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. I love her Scottish accent and she does a great job. Elinor's voice is provided by the ever wonderful Emma Thompson, who really breathes a life into her strict character as well as the very touching moments which reflects the kind and worried mother spirit.
Mostly teenage female audience will love this movie and will relate a lot with it. It shows the mother-daughter dynamic really well, the fragility, seriousness, beauty and everything in between. Merida is a really interesting character even though it takes a while to really understand her or get used to her. She is independent and brave in the sense that she loves living her life on her own sets of rules and doesn't likes to be told to do something. On the other hand, all her mother wants is whats best for the kingdom and for her daughter. The sort of unease vs recklessness that this relation brings is interesting. The "being brave" part really kicks in once you see Merida doing her best to repair the damage her action caused. Spending time with her mother and seeing her rather "not human" and slowly slipping away is what makes her realize the importance she has in her life and her actions no matter how much she hates them. In the meantime, Elinor also realizes how much mature her daughter is when she sees that spark in her during that time. I like it that it doesn't go for a more action/adventurous theme but rather slightly off the track to deliver this dynamic in the most subtle sense. Still overall Brave is uneven with some slight pacing issues as well as the screenplay that doesn't really hold up in many places but still somehow delivers what it strives for.
Brave will really appeal to the fans of animated movies with castles, kingdoms, kings and queens, magic, witches etc but with a more modern and technically brilliant visual approach. Brave wont stay with you like other Pixar movies does but it still is a fun movie to watch with some really nice, funny, touching moments. The ending is poorly handled in a more conventional way that leaves you with a bit of a bad taste in your mouth. If you want to compare this movie then its a mixture of Beauty and the Beast with Tangled, that is the best i can say. Its very straight forward and not very deeply affecting nor are the characters quite memorable thanks to the writers who took the ideas from previous Disney outings without even remotely trying to create something new. Watch Brave because its the first Pixar movie with a female lead.