Brave – Sixth Upon a Time

Many would say that they would lose interest in a film if they saw it six times. I am here to re-review Pixar’s Brave after I have now seen it for the sixth time, including the premiere in Edinburgh (see below, 30th June) and twice in the Medicinema. So, upon a sixth viewing, what has changed?

Well, nothing really. It is still as exciting and emotionally engaging, the characters are still as loveable as ever, the music is still as incredible and the landscapes are still as awesome. Upon repeated viewings, one will even pick up many of those hidden animation visual jokes that Pixar are known for.

Yes, the story may be unoriginal but it is certainly a great take on an already-told story, and raises tears on every viewing. Brother Bear told the story of a young man’s journey as a bear to find love and ultimately redemption for past sins through a young bear who becomes his little brother. Brave tells the story of a feuding mother and daughter which requires the mother to be changed into a bear to make the two realise how much they love each other. And as I mentioned before, Toy Story‘s central ideas are taken from the Brave Little Toaster and The Incredibles is copied from Watchmen. Why are people only complaining now that Pixar are unoriginal at times? They do tell similar sort of messages, like forgive people for their mistakes etc., but these lessons can never be told enough. I’m from a very Catholic family, and while I stopped practicing Catholism in my early teens, mainly due to the fact I didn’t agree on many of the Bible’s strict views on things such as same-sex marriage and the role of women in society, I still believe in the values, I believe life is fairer that way. Also being a lifelong Labour Party supporter, I believe things should be fair. But still, don’t let my opinions sway you, think what you like.

Although many have criticised the characters for not being as three-dimensional as previous Pixar protagonists, I find them even more interesting than the likes of Sulley and Mike, or Lightning McQueen and Mater, or (yes, shoot me) Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Each character is instantly loveable with their own identifiable flaws – Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson) is a kind and powerful ruler but unfortunately is so narrow-minded towards tradition that she tries to control her daughter; Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is headstrong and confident while also being soft-hearted (with bizarrely attractive hair I’d like to add) but also selfish and loudmouthed; King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connolly) is funny and supportive of his family but is aggressive and does not listen to any type of magical talk or the fact that the bear he is trying to kill is in fact his wife. The lords MacGuffin, Macintosh and Dingwall (voiced by Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane respectively) are very funny and deserve a movie of their own. The eccentric witch (voiced by Julie Walters) is also an interesting addition to the list of Pixar characters.  I would also like to take the chance to destroy rumours going around at the moment about the sexuality of Merida – just because she does not want to get married to any of the suitors and wants to find love in her own time, it does not mean she is a lesbian. I find it it irritating that sad people feel the need to falsely take apart wonderful and innocent movies. I would also like to say, despite being straight, I am a supporter of same-sex marriage – the people protesting against it really irritate me too. – how does two men or two women being in love affect them? It’s time to leave homosexual people alone and stop singling them out – they have been lucky to find partners – God knows, it can be hard enough finding a partner when you’re straight. Anyway, back to the film.

Largely, the dynamics of the mother-daughter relationship work so well and are portrayed so heart-renderingly is due to the fact that the film was based on director Brenda Chapman and her experiences with her own daughter. It tends to make films work. On our second cartoon Two Women, One Heart, the bizarre storyline of a squirrel in love with two females was in fact based on a period of my life, so it does work.

The cast of Brave is also spot-on. Macdonald gives Merida the right balance of  fieriness and heart, Emma Thompson effectively shows a mother who cannot help living through her daughter, and while people of a certain age may have trouble seeing Billy Connolly as an actor, he is fabulous as King Fergus. It isn’t the first time, after all, that a comedian has voiced a cartoon character, eg. Lee Evans in The Magic Roundabout. A great example is the 1991 animated feature Rover Dangerfield: American comedian Rodney Dangerfield wrote and produced the movie, and voiced the main canine star who was essentially an animal version of himself. Ferguson, Coltrane and McKidd are also excellent as the lords. Although one complaint, shouldn’t Lord MacGuffin have been voiced by Gerard Butler? Interestingly, Gerard is a relative of mine on my father’s side. For some bizarre reason, when people found out, they used to ask me to say “This is Sparta!!!”. I still wonder why, I don’t even sound like him. But anyway, MacGuffin. They have the same face and Kevin McKidd sounds almost like he is trying to impersonate Butler. It’s not like Pixar can’t afford him.

So, are there flaws to the movie? Of course, there are some minor flaws. Again, the movie’s plot has been told before, the evil bear villain Mor’du is slightly underused, and there are times when you wish you could shut Merida up. However, the perfect movie does not exist and can’t, but in this reviewer’s opinion, Brave is as pretty much as close to it as you can possibly get.

Brave faced many worthy competitors but ultimately succeeds as being the best Pixar film produced to date. It is timeless, utterly captivating, hilarious and tear-jerking, glorious, spine-chilling and absolutely lovely. It will never be beaten by another Pixar film – it is simply not possible to get any better than this.


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