Starring the voices of Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson
Directed by Mark Andrews
Rated PG for some scary action and rude humor
For a year now we’ve been watching the trailers for this much anticipated Pixar film, and if you are a Pixar fan boy like me, you have been watching with great impatience. From the outset the trailer played the film to be a simple story about a girl who doesn’t wish to have the arranged marriage her parents want for her. And then something with bears. Confusing, I know, but faith in the legendary animation house would have have you knowing full well that Pixar has a great story up its sleeve and you just have to wait till June 22 to find out what it is. Unfortunately, there is nothing up Pixar’s sleeve here. The film is just what the trailer portrays it to be: a beautiful spoiled princess who doesn’t wish to obey the will of her parents. And then something with bears.
You might think I’m being a bit cruel to a film that looks so good and has such a fine pedigree. I’ll agree that the studio has turned in some of the best films of the last twenty years including Wall-E, Up, the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille and my personal favorite Monster’s, Inc. The reason for their success over the years has more to do with their meticulous story process than their relationship to Disney and the late Steve Jobs. Until Cars 2 (of which I was one of the few critics who enjoyed apparently) their stories were perfect. Wonderful characters in imaginative settings with stunning animation to support. Brave only delivers the stunning animation. The look of the film is without doubt, beautiful. The colors are rich and the cinematography could match any live action film ever released.
So my question is why did they skimp on the story? There is huge potential here for a complex tale that would leave everyone satisfied. And since the running time is only a mere 93 minutes, there was plenty of time to include a broader tale. After all, most of the other Pixar films clock in at around two hours.
I’m perfectly fine with a girl who wants to be free, but free from what? This spoiled little rich girl offers no alternative. She doesn’t have another option for her parents, such as maybe the butcher’s son who could prove himself. What does she want to be free to do? Ride around on her horse and shoot arrows at trees? Climb waterfalls? Couldn’t she still do that? There needs to be a much stronger motivation for her temper tantrum than what is provided.
And where is the villain? A film like this needs a great villain. The witch would have made perfect sense. The magically converted bears make very little sense and the story behind them should have been fleshed out to a greater extent. Instead we are left with a nonsensical journey of a pretty little brat.
I will fully admit that should you take this film and compare it to the fare of other studios, it can hold its own. But I’m not alone in that I expect much more from the folks at Pixar. If you are a teacher with a brilliant student and suddenly she turns in lazy work, you would be harder on that student than you would an average student turning in the same quality.
While the visual artists here should be commended for a job well done, the story artists need to get a better understanding of what made Pixar so special to begin with. C+