I don't think that I've ever reviewed a film on the blog before, but I will happily start out by reviewing a movie I saw yesterday.
It is a well-known fact that I'm a little obsessed with Disney movies. I have lots of the soundtracks, have watched Beauty and the Beast probably more times than is strictly healthy, and have more "kids' movies" than "proper adult movies" in my DVD collection. Maybe it's because I write young adult?
Whatever the reasons for my love of animated films, I have been wanting to see Brave for over a year now, ever since my illustration-major best friend went on a trip to San Fransisco (and thus Pixar Animation Studios) last spring break and she told me that they were working on a mother-daughter story. Finally going to see it yesterday, I was a little worried that I would be disappointed, since I'd been so excited for so long.
I was not disappointed in the slightest. I laughed a lot. I cried a little (although I don't think my sister or my friend noticed, so, WIN). It was absolutely everything I could wish for in a new fairytale.
As I'm sure you've noticed from the posters and the trailer, the animation is stunning. The landscapes look almost like photographs (it made me want to go right back to Scotland) and the details are positively amazing. Angus, Merida's Clydesdale horse, moves like a real horse (which I have seen done very poorly in a lot of animation before, it's HARD) and he doesn't have the cartoonish face of earlier Disney equine companions. And Merida's hair is kind of awesome. It moves and bounces like curly hair really does; the curls aren't all uniform, like real hair - they even get it WET at one point and it still looks realistic. And the color scheme of the whole movie is great - lots of soft blues and greens that all contrast really nicely with that bright red hair. Bravo, animation team, bravo.
Of course, beautiful animation does not a good movie make (don't get me started on The Princess and the Frog. Just don't). I don't want to say too much about the story here, because I think it's quite spoil-able and I was quite happy to see the story unfold instead of knowing it ahead of time. It's a very simple story, but I don't think it needs anything more. The magic makes sense; the character relationships make sense; the plot makes sense, and it carries the action and humor very well. From the trailers, we can see that Merida is determined to do things her own way, and she decides that she is going to take charge of her own fate instead of letting tradition dictate that she be betrothed to someone she does not love when she is not ready to get married. What she does to change her fate - and then what she must do to fix her mistakes - was something that I was not necessarily expecting, but it worked out very well. All of the elements tied together very nicely.
Some other things that I liked: Merida is not a typical princess, not only in that she wants to have adventures, but in that she doesn't think "I hate being a princess, my life isn't fair!" That's not what she thinks at all - she simply wants enough freedom to make her own path in life, rather than having it chosen for her by others. She does not want to be somebody else, and that was refreshing. It was amazing to see a Disney character with a complete family - father, mother, three hilarious little brothers. And I loved - LOVED - that it was a mother-daughter story. Merida and Elinor are both incredibly strong characters, and they play off each other very well. Disney, why have you not done this before?! I know that there are a lot of doubts about the marketability of this film, but I see absolutely NO reason why this movie would not appeal to boys. There's a lot of action and adventure, there is some great magic, and a good bit of fighting. It just happens to have a female protagonist. I think this is exactly the sort of movie that will be great for bridging the gap between what people think boys want to see and what they think girls want to see.
I loved Brave, it was exactly the kind of movie I was hoping it would be. I can't wait for my aforementioned illustration-major best friend to be back in town so I can go see it again.
Have you seen Brave? Let me know what you thought of it! And if not... what are you waiting for? Go see it!!