Review: Brave

Starring (voices) Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Julie Walters

Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

Flame-haired Scottish Princess Merida determines to make her life her own and rebels against her clan traditions…

Set against sweeping epic CGI backgrounds in take-it-or-leave-it 3D, Brave, the Pixar relocation of traditional Disney fairytales about princesses and kingdoms to an ancient Scottish setting, is a qualified success.

The decision to feature mostly Scottish voice talent seems obvious (and the original misguided plan to have Reece Witherspoon voice the lead would have led to a host of criticism), but the choice to build a putative international animated blockbuster around Scottish hills and glens was less so.

It’s thoroughly entertaining, and despite a fresh take on the standard Disney Princess in Macdonald’s feisty Merida, there is perhaps a little too much Disney in Brave and not enough of the sophistication of the early Pixar storytelling in the likes of Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.

All the elements are here: rebellious heroine, traditional parents, comic anthropomorphic characters, a relationship in need of mending, encounters with the supernatural and a host of comic characters that are true to their mythic sources. The Scottish dialects and dialogue is spot on, clearly well-researched so avoiding any complaints from the natives. No Gregory’s Girl/Trainspotting sub-titles needed here for American audiences.

Despite all that, Brave is perhaps a little too straight-forward, lacking anything significant in the way of twists or additional depth to the storytelling (unlike the faux depth brought to the images by the digital 3D). As an advert for the Scottish Tourist Board, it serves its purpose, but it is unlikely Brave will stand alongside such long-lasting Disney classics as the original Snow White and (more recently) The Lion King.

Verdict: Despite being not as ground-breaking as it thinks it is, Brave offers some cracking entertainment. 7/10

Brian J. Robb

Brave is currently on release nationwide.


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