By Gabrielle Bondi
As a little girl, I loved the Disney Princesses. I was convinced that I was Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) at a point in my childhood and would twirl around with household items, pretending they were enchanted and alive. As children’s animated films progressed (and I got older), I fell in love with the films of Pixar. Their dedication to bringing some of the most wonderfully made and written stories to the big screen is phenomenal. So when I heard about Brave, the first Pixar film to have a female protagonist and that she was a princess, well… it would be an understatement to say that I freaked out. Now, I know that Brave’s Princess Merida wouldn’t be like the princesses of my childhood. Her story couldn’t be about falling in love and riding happily ever after with some handsome dude. Frankly, as much as I love those princesses, I’m in the market for something new, meaningful and exciting. And that’s exactly what Brave delivered. With its spellbinding animation, Brave is a feast for the eyes. With its story, Merida reels you into her heart and adventure.
Brave is the story of Merida, a Scottish princess who is coming of age. Her mother is on her back about always acting like a proper princess, but all Merida wants to do is ride through the forests and fields and shoot from her bow and arrow. She wants an adventure, not a husband. But tradition says that she must soon choose a husband in order to keep the peace in her land. The headstrong Merida defies tradition and her equally stubborn mother and goes off to find a way to change her destiny.
From the trailers and clips, not much of the story has been given away. After watching the movie, it’s clear why that is. The twist is pretty unexpected, and it turns it into a different movie than I was expecting. It’s still an adventure, but the reason behind it is something I would’ve never guessed. And it works. It works very well. I never expected to connect to the story on such a personal level. It’s definitely a story that almost every kid and adult can relate to, understand and appreciate it. Merida has such a fierce spirit. The other characters are very entertaining and funny. They all play an essential part in her story.Plus, they are amazingly voiced! Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly MacDonald brought so much fire to Merida. Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane Kevin McKidd and of course John Ratzenberger lent their voice talents to the film. I will admit that while I love the story, it’s isn’t Pixar’s strongest (Toy Story 3 will always be the best). However, I liked how they tackled the notions of fate and courage. They bring out a great and smart message from the film.
The plot isn’t the only surprising element to Brave. This may be the most violent and scary Pixar movie I’ve ever seen. I’ll be honest and admit that I jumped a few times. Not to say it’s too scary for children. It lives up to its PG rating; it just doesn’t hold back. Some kids movies play it too safe. In many cases, people become over-concerned with what kids are watching. A movie like Brave teaches kids that there are consequences to your actions and sometimes they can be scary.
I almost goes without saying how stunning the animation is in this movie. There are so many organic parts to it that I couldn’t wrap my mind around how Pixar manage to do all that. It’s practically magic. Merida’s hair is just WOW. It’s so beautifully filmed too. At times, I forgot that it was even an animated film. Truly, the best animation I’ve seen yet.
Brave is another gem from the Pixar geniuses. It’s more than worth your time and money. I, myself, can’t wait to see it again in 3D. (Make sure to stay after ALL the credits! Bonus scene!) I’m happy to add to Princess Merida to my list of all-time favorite Disney Princesses. I’m thinking that with my obsessions with The Hunger Games, Avengers and now Brave, it’ll be better to invest in a bow and arrow than a prince.
Brave hits theaters Friday, June 22nd. Review courtesy of TheYoungFolks.com