REVIEW: Brave (PG) (100min)
Directors. Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson
A new Pixar/Disney film is usually a bit of an event, but Brave has slipped into our theatres without a skerrick of the fanfare of a Toy Story or a Wall-E.
And that's a shame. In a blockbuster season even more chocka than usual with spandex-clad superheroes – almost exclusively male – cluttering up the multiplex, this quite modest but very likeable animation is going to be struggling to find an audience.
Brave is, at its best, a very accomplished wee film.
And even during a slightly problematic second act, the cast, style, and the not inconsiderable fact that it has a female lead who doesn't need a boyfriend to help her, are enough to have Brave taking the high road in to my good books quite effortlessly.
Set in the Scottish highlands of a thousand years ago, Brave follows young princess Merida as she defies the convention she should choose a husband from among the scions of the neighbouring clans.
Merida just wants to ride her horse, practise her archery, and generally retain her independence. But her mother is having none of that and soon a classic mother-daughter feud takes an eventful turn, when Merida employs a local witch to make her mother "different".
At which she succeeds all too well.
Hence that difficult second act, as Brave heads off into territory that might be a bit too dark, intense, and convoluted for the under-eights or so. Everything ends well, of course, but the journey there is at times an odd one.
With an excellent cast – Billy Connolly as Merida's kingly dad is in better form than I've heard him in years – and some truly wondrous animation, Brave is a grand new entry from the animation giants.
It won't do Toy Story or Nemo box office, but if you're looking after a couple of pre-teen girls these holidays, they'll almost certainly love it.
- © Fairfax NZ News