Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
The latest animation from the award winning combo of Disney and Pixar is a splash of Little Mermaid with an added dose of How to Train Your Dragon. Yet the fairy tale that is, Brave, is inferior to both those splendid stories.
With the story lacking any real firepower, the animation on the other hand is one of the most immersing on-screen visual displays seen the last few years in the genre.
Taking place in ancient Scotland, where rugged Kings and elegant Queens live in vast castles built on mountainous landscapes; a young princess (voiced charmingly by Kelly MacDonald) is more concerned about learning to shoot her bow-and-arrow rather than listen to her insistent and loving mother (voiced by Emma Thompson) about the proper ins-and-outs of becoming a future Queen. As the two constantly bicker, all while the physically imposing, yet casual, lord of the manor (voiced jubilantly by Billy Connolly) stands idly by, the stubborn red-head princess storms off outside the castle walls, hoping to change her destiny.
This is one of those instances where the second half kind of saves the overall experience from the lethargic first half. Whether you’re five or forty-five years of age though, there’s nothing to lure you in aside from the already mentioned physical features. And that proves this guy’s theory that with the possible exception of Toy Story 3, Pixar’s storytelling talents are not on the same level as their amazing atmospheres created. While the two comparisons made in this review’s intro (neither are Pixar products) would lead one to believe that this could equate to solid animated entertainment, Brave seems too manufactured and contrived to standout as something one must explore.
As the true agenda of the characters/story are revealed about halfway through the tale, one will be given a few instances that can lead to the creation of a wholesome engaging product. Our bold princess meets the stereotypical witch (voiced by Julie Waters) who allows her to pick a spell to use in helping her avoid the path her parents have already chosen for her. Once this subplot is fully executed, there is a nice little subtle adventure to follow, but again, don’t expect the written dialogue, character personas, or storytelling to excite you or the young ones. Silence may be golden in a theater, but not while an animation is playing.
Put it this way, the audible delivery of this story is the equivalent of a doctor telling someone they have a terminal disease (stoic, dry, and it’s no laughing matter).
Bottom line: the latest batch of Pixar products need a boost of energy regarding all elements that a computer cannot create.