Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Pixar and Disney started to screen Brave last week, and the first reviews are hitting online outlets now. There’s been a lot of interest in the film, in part simply because it is Pixar’s latest effort, but also because it features the studio’s first female lead protagonist, and because of the complex and relatively public development process that saw a project called The Bear and the Bow turn into Brave.
Reactions so far range from nearly ecstatic to a more measured, mixed take. We’ll have a proper review soon; in the meantime check out a sample below.
What results is a film that starts off big and promising but diminishes into a rather wee thing as it chugs along, with climactic drama that is both too conveniently wrapped up and hinges on magical elements that are somewhat confusing to boot. Not only is the tale laden with standard-issue fairy tale and familiar girl-empowerment tropes, but the entire project lacks the imaginative leaps, unexpected jokes and sense of fun and wonder that habitually set Pixar productions apart from the pack. Its ideas seem earthbound. On a sensory level, however, Brave is almost entirely a delight.
Now Pixar gives princesses a go after making a dozen other toons, and though the studio brings its usual level of perfectionism and heart to the assignment, “Brave” seems a wee bit conventional by comparison with, say, how radically “The Incredibles” reinvented the superhero genre — not that Pixar’s eager international following will object. Adding a female director to its creative boys’ club, the studio has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as “Finding Nemo.” … Familiar though its elements may be, “Brave” feels quite different from earlier Pixar films, demonstrating a refreshing versatility in an oeuvre that was starting to look a bit staid, especially as sequels overtook the slate.
There’s been lots of evidence of the love affair between John Lasseter’s lot and Hayao Miyazaki’s mob over the years, but none of it as charming, and convincing as Brave, Pixar’s next. Because an even more sincere form of flattery than imitation is breathing in an influence until it fills you up, becomes part of you, mixes with your own ideas, and comes out again, coiled into the DNA of your own work… Not every joke in the film works perfectly, and you may be surprised how small-scale a story it is, intimate and closed-in, but Brave is a rich, tender film and so exquisitely well-crafted that I was quite thoroughly won over.
What makes Brave truly special is that, even if it were stripped of its dazzling visuals, laugh-out-loud humour and dynamism, it would remain a clever, arresting and emotionally involving, yet inherently simple tale about the turbulent relationship between a mother and daughter and the fact that freedom may not be all it’s cracked up to be. It’s the emotional core, with all those extra elements sprinkled liberally on top that makes Brave the best animated film of the year, rewarding in droves. It’s quite simply, unrelentingly spectacular.
And finally, there’s this from Screen Daily. Beware a bit of spoilerishness in the opening if you click the source link– there’s a detail in there that I didn’t know and might have preferred not to know until I saw the film.
Amiable and action-packed without being overbearing about it, and marked by a new level of visual complexity, even by Pixar standards, the film peddles with assurance and panache the pleasant tale of a new young heroine.
Brave hits US theaters on June 22nd, then opens in Scotland on August 3rd and the rest of the UK August 17th.