Movie review: Brave (+trailer)

By Russell Baillie

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Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, in a scene from 'Brave.' Photo / Supplied
Merida, voiced by Kelly Macdonald, in a scene from 'Brave.' Photo / Supplied

Let the Pixar fanboys argue among themselves about whether this is a further misstep after Cars 2.

Yes, it's a princess movie. It's also the company's first female lead in 13 films.

And it comes with a few Disney-esque touches like one terrifically saccharin song early on.

While it might start out feeling a mite conventional, Brave winds up somewhere exciting, funny and hilariously Scottish, though highland landscapes and some of its otherworldly touches seem to bear the influence of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

Combined with the detailed computer animation - Merida's red tresses are a thing of wonder - this is visually impressive throughout.

But it's the story and its precision-timed Pixar pace, voicework and gags that make Brave so captivating.

The story really kicks into a gear after teenage tomboy Merida (voiced with amusing exasperation by Kelly Macdonald) refuses an arranged marriage to a son of one of the local clan leaders, especially as she's more than a match for her suitors in the warrior skills department.

Unwisely, Merida visits a local witch for a spell to change her mother, Queen Elinor's (Emma Thompson) mind about the betrothal. Only that leaves poor Mum transformed, so Merida must reverse the curse while her increasingly grizzly mother swings between staying human and getting in touch with her wild side.

All of which sets up some captivating scenes, whether it's Merida taking her ravenous parent salmon fishing, or the pair sneaking back into the castle where the clans are still enjoying the king's hospitality between brawls.

Its perilous finale might be a bit much for some younger kids. But after a soft start Brave offers a riveting story which veers more toward myth than fairy tale and one which along the way does for mother-daughter relationships what Finding Nemo did for fathers and sons.

Once word gets out, crack-shot Merida is sure to cause another rush among an even younger demographic than the Katniss fanclub down at the local archery club.

Stars: 4/5
Voices: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Rating: PG (Scary scenes)
Running time: 100 min
Verdict: It's really quite bonnie.

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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