Jake Wilson June 21, 2012
Princess Merida's non-conformist attitude has its downside.
Reviewer rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader rating: 4 out of 5 stars (36 votes)
Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Comedy, Childrens
Actors: Emma Thompson, Kelly Macdonald, Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Screen writer: Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi
OFLC rating: Yet to be classified
THE Pixar animation studio is unlikely to appease its feminist critics with this strange, compromised revisionist fairytale - compromised in the sense that the original director, Brenda Chapman, was taken off the project and replaced by the team of Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell.
Like many children's films, Brave begins as a fable about a young non-conformist - in this case, the tomboy Princess Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, who lives in a vaguely imagined version of mediaeval Scotland.
Quite reasonably, Merida is more interested in learning archery from her boisterous dad (Billy Connolly) than listening to her mother (Emma Thompson) talk about the duties of a lady.
But then the plot takes an odd turn. Rather than face marriage, Merida races into a dark forest in pursuit of a will o' the wisp.
Here she encounters a witch (Julie Walters), makes a disastrous bargain, and spends the rest of the film trying to repair the damage.
The message seems to be that it's acceptable for girls to rebel, but only up to a point.
Technically speaking, Brave is as impressive as anything Pixar has done - in its attention to the nuances of facial expression and in its handling of visually tricky subjects such as curling smoke or Merida's unruly hair.
But none of this virtuosity makes the story any less dull.
Ironically under the circumstances, the liveliest characters are Merida's younger brothers, red-haired scamps who pop up like Alvin and the Chipmunks whenever there's a chance of causing trouble.