Disney and Pixar have set the bar so high with their animated offerings, it’s hard to be very enthusiastic about a film that is just good, rather than extraordinary, but I shall try my best.
This is a sweet little picture set in glorious Scotland about a young Princess who doesn’t want to be forced into an arranged marriage. Her mother, the Queen, tells her that she must marry one of the suitors from three local families. None of them appeal to her. She is more interested in practicing her already superb skills at archery. In a fit of rebellion, she pays a witch to put an enchantment on her mum – a choice that, as any self-respecting Disney viewer will know, will have disastrous consequences.
With these disastrous consequences (her mother turns into a bear!), comes a lot of morals and lessons about being oneself and progressive while respecting tradition. But instead of coming across twee and patronising, Brenda Chapman’s story allows us to discover these messages as if it’s the first time we’re hearing them. We know, really, how the film will end, and Brave’s charm lies in the fact that we enjoy being proved right rather than feel resentful about its predictability.
There are some issues. Although a family film of high quality, with some gorgeous imagery, the plotting isn’t as tight as it should be. There are parts where the plot seems to be just filling in some time before the story can move on, and conversations become a little repetitive.
Although I don’t think it will go down as a Pixar classic, this is still an immensely enjoyable treat, and features some stellar voice talents including Kelly McDonald as our feisty heroine, and Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly as her parents. Brave is gentle, well-made and very enjoyable.
Brave (2012), directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell, is distributed in the UK by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Certificate PG.