Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pixar's Brave: and why I'm disappointed in it.

Hey guys!
I know its been a long time since I've written a review, and I know the Brave isn't Japanese related in any way, but I felt the need to write a review for this film after seeing it last night. I'm sorry this will probably be long and ranty -_-'
I'll start off on a Japanese note anyways. The Japanese title is 『メリダとおそろしの森』Which I think roughly translates as Merida and the Amazing Forest. And heres the trailer with some Japanese footage on it. I did find it slightly amusing that the Dad still has a slight Scottish accent even in Japanese XD
Right, now on with the main review. To start off with I would just like to say that I am a massive Pixar fan and have been anticipating this film for a long time. Also, I love analysing their films because the symbolism and moral message of their films are always really well woven in. That may contribute to part of the reason why I'm so disappointed.

My main qualm about this film is that it really, REALLY didn't feel like a Pixar film. It felt like a typical Disney or Dreamworks film. The main defining quality of a Pixar film and why as a studio they are so successful, is because they are able to communicate to all age groups through their beautiful story telling. Also, they normally do this story telling in the context of some bat-shit crazy unique environment. They can take a really unique far out concept, yet at the end of the film everyone feels like they can relate to what just happened. Theres always strong symbolism and the storytelling is subtle. Brave, I felt, did not have any of this. It was just a bland kids movie. Granted it was very beautifully animated, but Pixar can no longer rely on its pioneering animation to wow its audiences because now lots of other movie studios are using similar techniques. Computer animation for children's films is now the norm. Visually there is nothing wrong with Brave, but it was missing its storytelling magic that Pixar is so good at. Its also good at making epic adventure films, which Brave wasn't either.

Why didn't it sweep me away on a wonderful adventure? Well, I think it'd be hard to convey any sense of the word 'adventure' in what is essentially a day and a half. Thats how long Merida and her Mum have to transform her back. Two sunrises and she was transformed during the evening so... either way its not a very long period of time. Furthermore, they only ever go between the castle, the witches house, the stone circle, the ruined castle and the forest all of which seem to be within easy riding distance of the castle. They never go anywhere remotely far! Why? Because they only have a day! D8< This backwards and forwarding between locations overall made the film feel quite choppy and the story just didn't flow very well because of it.

Also, this film to me rang of Disney's 'Brother Bear'. The whole learning to accept another being/person by being transformed into a bear concept has already been done, and it was done better the first time round because the bear went on an epic adventure and actually did learn something by being a bear. In this film the fact that the Mother was transformed into a bear seems irrelevant to me apart from the fact that the witches spell said to 'change' her and that it meant the Dad would try to kill her at some point...come to think of it he never apologised for trying to kill her either. But the witches spell could have been a better plot device if the spell had transformed her into something that would have actually helped her relate to her daughter. All it did was make them work together to try and transform her back and not really to address the issue which was the disagreement over the marriage.

The characters... I actually really liked the Dad. He was an awesome character. The naughty triplets were fun too. But Merida wasn't the blaze of feminism that Pixar promised her to be. The mother was also a really bland, generic well, mother character. They were so bland and 2D I couldn't relate to either of them and get the point of the film which is ridiculous because all (teen) girls know what its like to disagree with their mothers about something.

Now a nit picky thing. Just because. Will o the wisps in any myth or legend have not been associated with leading people to their fates. Well, thats a lie actually. They lead you to your fate if your fate is death or danger because they stray travellers off safe paths. In an ironic way I suppose this film does reflect that, witches hut and an abandoned castle where a huge bear slaughtered everyone. So, if any of you ever see a will o the wisp, for the love of all that is holy, do not follow it. -_-' Just some mythology thing which was irritating me. But I do feel they could of played up the Celtic theme a bit more with genuine mythos and a bit more culture seeped in. The clans constantly trying to beat each other up seemed legit though.

In short, this is why I didn't like this film. Pixar needs to stick to what they do best and need to do it the way they've always done it i.e. the creative always coming exclusively from within Pixar and *cough* not getting directors from outside Pixar. Its a good children's film, but for me it just isn't Pixar.

On a high note, I really did like the short animation, La Luna, at the beginning of the film. It still had the subtle imagery in there that I so love >.< Plus it was really cute and visually enjoyable to look at. It really did still have the Pixar heart in it, so that was really lovely to see. The concept was just really beautiful and elegantly simple. My previous point still stands, its a really unique idea but you still understand the point and the message. Heres the first part of an interview with the director for that:
I've always found how Pixar works as a whole really fascinating and they do talk a bit in this interview about the role that their short films have to play within the studio.

Sorry Pixar! I still love all your other movies, just not Brave! (or Cars 2)

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