Pixar magic continues to enthral
Direction: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Voices: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson
Since its debut with Toy Story back in 1995, animation giant Pixar has distinguished itself by constantly creating some of the best loved contemporary cartoons. Although their 13th feature may not rank alongside The Incredibles, WALL-E, or Up in the Pixar pantheon, Brave is every bit as visually sumptuous and emotionally resonant as you’d expect.
Set in medieval Scotland, the magical adventure marks the directing debut of veteran storyboard artist Mark Andrews. He took over from Brenda Chapman, who conceived the fantasy and receives joint credit as helmer.
This is also the first Pixar film to centre on a female protagonist. An impetuous teenage princess (voiced by Macdonald) is determined to control her own destiny, never mind if her parents (Thompson-Billy Connolly) have other plans. Faced with the prospect of an arranged marriage to one of three lords from rival clans, the rebellious youngster flees into the surrounding forest.
The plot thickens, and how, when the headstrong lass seeks help from a wily witch (Julie Walters). An age-old curse is invoked, leading to dire consequences for her family and the entire kingdom.
The story now takes a supernatural turn, becoming even somewhat scary for the little ’uns. The princess ultimately realises that differences between parents and offspring need not be divisive. The heroic final act underscores that family bonds are more powerful than pride or selfishness.
The fairy tale-style narrative may be familiar but there's no faulting the craft. The visual design, which features some of the most limpid landscapes ever animated, is matched by the attention to detail. The voice talent invests their characters with more vitality than most actors in live-action films.
Oh, and do get to the cinema on time or you might miss out on an entrancing seven-minute short film called La Luna, which precedes the feature presentation.