Pixar films are always extremely well made – most are actually straight-up masterpieces. As animated movies go, they have always been superior. Sure there had been a few other surprises in that department, but none have reached to that kind of level. Being all-around great animated movies is just half the reason for this. The big reason is because they’re not solely for kids, but for any age. Most have wonderful stories and can be re-watched countless times. Toy Story, The Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up and Toy story 3 makes up their filmography (excluding two). You can’t find animated movies to match up with any of them. Now, though, some better animated movies have been coming out these past years. In 2011 when Cars 2 came out I was excited. I love the first one (I don’t get some of the hate that movie gets). It turned out to be completely average. I was shocked. I had hoped they rebounded from that with their latest movie, Brave. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the one to do that.
The screenplay wasn’t all that bad, but when you boil down to it, it’s not that good. Just start with the story. I was immensely disappointed in the story they chose. They could have gone in so many other directions. In the end, they did something that’s a first for Pixar (this wasn’t a problem in Cars 2). It felt like they couldn’t think of anything, and they played it very safe. Merida is a Scottish princess who sets out to chance her fate. She doesn’t want to have a husband chosen for her or anyone to tell her what to do. So, she goes to change her destiny. That’s the story. They don’t do anything too interesting or unique with the story. One twist takes place that seems alright at first, but it really goes nowhere.
The jokes were obviously written with the intention of mainly appealing to kids. I did chuckle some throughout, but nothing made me laugh out load. Clever visual gags were thrown in the mix; those brought the biggest laughs. The drama just isn’t as powerful as it should have been. The characters aren’t given much depth either. Plus, the message of the movie is heavily clichéd and hit’s you over the head with it a bit too much. The screenplay isn’t awful, but it’s far away from most Pixar movies.
Brave was directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman. Both of them haven’t done much in their careers. So, they aren’t seasoned directors. They did something that I like to call auto-pilot direction. This movie seemed like it didn’t ever know where to go or what to do. While nothing they did really hindered the movie, it didn’t help it in any way. I’m sure they tried, but they don’t seems like the kind of directors to direct to the standers that this movie needed.
The voice acting is good, for the most part. Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson are just fine. Technically, they are solid – I just didn’t feel like they injected anything special into it. When I thought about this movie for this review, I was thinking about the voice acting and not the characters. That’s a problem for me. Especially considering this is a Pixar movie. Kelly Macdonald is the one person who I felt did it right. She played Carla Jean Moss in No Country For Old Men for anyone thinking that name is familiar and can’t quite recall her.
The only truly great thing about Brave is the animation. While watching the main thing that kept my attention was the look of the film. Take the central character Merida’s hair, for example. When I saw the poster, and trailer I thought it might look too big and out there. Overall, I was afraid it would come off as a major distracting. It was given great detail and was handled very well. Even if you were out of the story and everything else going on you could just look around. You can get some good eye candy. I think this works best as a rental, but I have a word of advice if you see this in theaters (I assume this would be mainly for parents taking their kids). Don’t see this in 3D. I don’t hate it. It’s done alright, but I feel it’s better to look at without it. The animation gets full marks.
This is one of the biggest disappointments of the year so far. I still have hope for Pixar – they have some promising movies that are in development. They had better step their game back up; they have some competition. Their last masterpiece was in 2010, but the last two years have resulted in a steady decline. I have high hopes for Monsters University, the prequel to Monsters Inc. If you look way down the line as well, they are planing on a sequel to Finding Nemo. I am excited for those two, and have that feeling that they will be just as good as the originals. After all I’ve said, kids will really love this. Adults won’t hate it – they will just be bored. With this not working out as great as I hoped (along with Ice Age 4: Continental Drift), Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted remains the best animated movie of 2012.