Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


December 6, 2012

“Brave” charts new territory for Pixar

Greensburg — For its thirteenth animated feature, Disney’s Pixar stretches into new creative territory, treading into a heretofore unexplored genre for the studio: The historical epic.

The result is “Brave,” an entertaining, largely successful endeavor whose greatest fault — ironically enough — is a lack of scope.

At times, “Brave” doesn’t feel big enough for its sweeping, historical backdrop, but rather, it feels strangely confined and limited; it feels at times, in fact, as if the story here might be just as well suited to one of Pixar’s short films.

“Brave,” however, successfully trades sweeping grandiosity for a narrowly-focused, satisfying, and relatable narrative about the unbreakable ties among family and — more specifically — between a parent and a child.

Kelly Macdonald (“No Country for Old Men”) voices Merida of Clan DunBroch, a free-spirited, red-headed teenage princess in the medieval Scottish Highlands.

Emma Thompson is Merida’s prudish, doting mother, Queen Elinor.

Merida has reached the age of betrothal as “Brave” opens, and although Merida’s free-spirited father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), is inclined to allow his daughter to follow her heart in matters of love and governance, Elinor won’t hear of it.

The Queen’s determined to see her daughter betrothed and married — regardless of love — to the oldest son of one of DunBroch’s three allied clans.

Such an arrangement, Elinor tells her daughter, will strengthen the alliance among the clans, helping avoid war and thereby keeping the realm intact and DunBroch in power. Such marriages, the Queens explains, are a princess’ duty.

Merida, however, being the fiery young woman she is, wants no part of the betrothal and tells her mother so — in no uncertain terms. Mother-and-daughter conflict ensues and quickly escalates into an epic war of wills, which ultimately finds Merida turning to a dodgy old witch (Julie Walters) for help.

The witch’s solution, unsurprisingly, turns out to be more than Merida bargained for.

Will Merida be able to save her mother before the witch’s spell becomes irreversible? Will she want to?

Anyone with teenage children and, especially, any mother who’s battled a strong-willed teenage daughter will readily relate to “Brave.”

On one level, Merida and her mother severely resent one another, and yet, in the end, the love between them is unavoidable and undeniable, and is ultimately greater than any antipathy between them. “Brave” manages to humorously and effectively convey that theme of “family as the most important tie” without becoming overly sappy or sentimental, and I suspect it will resonate for both parents and children alike.

More, although it suffers from a lack of scope, it also benefits from the same. This film breezes through its runtime and feels almost as if it might be a Pixar short.

“Brave” is lean and funny, efficient and heartfelt; it’s weaknesses certainly aren’t sufficient to recommend against it. It’s truly a film “for the whole family” in every sense of the term.

Rating: Howl-and-a-half

Score: 85/100

Runtime: 93 minutes

Rated PG for cartoonish violence

Rating System Explained: Rabies = 0; Yip = *; Bark = **; Howl = ***; Lone-wolf howl = ****; Leader of the pack = *****

Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.

Text Only
  • The Civil War comes to Knightstown this weekend The Annual Civil War Event at Yogi Bear Jellystone Park, north of Knightstown on State Road 109, will begin Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014. “The cavalry is coming this year, with more cannons, more reenactors, and special events,” states park owner Dan Moll.

    August 1, 2014

  • "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie poster Movie preview: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

    Plot: After stealing a mysterious orb in the far reaches of outer space, brash adventurer Peter Quill, a half human/half alien, is now the main target of a manhunt lead by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • "Get On Up" movie poster Movie preview: “Get On Up”

    Plot: James Brown’s life is chronicled in this biopic from a childhood spent in poverty to his emergence as the Godfather of Soul.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent-gb073114-state fair concerts jpg Indiana State Fair concerts at the Fairgrounds Coliseum and Free Stage boasts major talent Concerts that are part of the 2014 Indiana State Fair begin next week as Lynyrd Skynyrd performs on Thursday, July 31 (pre-fair) followed by amazing shows at the Fairgrounds Coliseum and Free Stage throughout the run of the fair. Also, in celebration

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent-gb073114-Movie boys pic Movie Boys: Lucy This week Andy is back from the opening round of parenthood, and we take a look at the Scarlett Johansson action vehicle, “Lucy” (R). Johansson’s title character is forced to become a drug mule, when an accident causes her brain capacity to advance a

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'This is the End' is long and not funny FROM THE DEN AT HOME — I was nothing short of stunned by how little I enjoyed “This is the End.”I rented this film expecting an irreverent, side-splitting hilarious romp, with laughs coming so quickly and frequently I’d be forced to watch a second ti

    July 31, 2014

  • ent-gb073114-New at library pic New arrivals at library Translation to XTAGS failed

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • nws-gb072614-book review pic 1 Review: Supersurvivors by David B. Feldman, PhD & Lee Daniel Kravetz You’re not sure if you’ll ever recover.The loss of job or a business. The loss of a lifelong dream. The loss of your health or the life of someone you love. Without a doubt, you’ll never be the same. It’s the worst thing that could ever happen to you

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

  • New arrivals at library Translation to XTAGS failed

    July 25, 2014

  • "Hercules" movie poster Movie preview: “Hercules”

    Plot: Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo