I’m not sure how long something has to exist in order to be called a classic, so I’ll qualify this review in a different way. With “Brave” it’s possible Pixar has created an instant classic, a film that will be as fresh thirty years from now as it is today.
It’s a brand new fairy tale about Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a flame-haired Celtic tomboy-turned-princess. She’s feisty, with little regard for the customs of her station in life, including an age-old ritual that will decide who she will marry. When her mother (Emma Thompson) insists she follow custom and choose a husband from the eldest sons of the MacGuffin, Macintosh and Dingwall clans Merida learns that you have to be careful what you wish for—especially when that wish is granted by an absent-minded witch (Julie Walters).
“Brave” so effectively creates its own world and mythology it would be easy to think it is an old tale updated by the story shamans at Pixar, but it’s a new story that feels timeless. There’s no pop culture references à la “Shrek” and only a couple of pop-song montages to date it. Other than that it feels like a classic, with one major difference—strong female characters.
Merida may be a princess in the tradition of Disney princesses but she’s also strong willed with a story arc that keeps her in the middle of the action. There’s nothing passive about her, or about her mother’s character either.
It’s a refreshing change, and one that should appeal to girls. But the movie isn’t just for the distaff side of the family. Everyone will enjoy the humor, the gentle action and characters.
When I first saw the trailers for “Brave” I thought it looked very conventional, as if Pixar was leaving behind the imaginative storytelling that had become their trademark to tell a simpler tale. How wrong I was.
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