Friday, June 22, 2012

‘Brave’ enhances girl power

By James Colt Harrison

We don’t often see young ladies as the leads in animated films. Occasionally we will see someone such as Disney’s Pocahontas and Tangled (Rapunzel) or Mulan where the main character is a young girl. So, things are looking up and we can now be glad that more films, both live and animated, are featuring females as the lead. Only this year we have seen The Hunger Games lead the way with Jennifer Lawrence taking charge.

Newly released is the delightful Pixar-Disney co-production Brave. No, it’s not about an Indian Brave, but about a young Scottish girl who is a whiz with a bow and arrow. She just happens to be a Princess, one of Disney’s favorite occupations for its heroines. Alas, Merida (voice of Kelly MacDonald), our royal girl here, does not wear a tutu, but is dressed appropriately for the forests of Scotland.

You see, her mom and dad are the King and Queen. It’s comic Billy Connolly’s best role on film and he doesn’t even appear on screen! He’s wild and uncouth, funny and rambunctious. Over the top would be an understatement, but with his character it works. And with Emma Thompson as his Queen Elinor and the voice of reason, you understand what “opposites attract” really means. He’s rough and raw and she’s refined.

Young Merida is under the wing of her watchful mother. Although Queen Elinor introduces her daughter Merida to the art of archery, she still insists the dinner table is no place to toss a bow and arrow. Merida is a wild and untamed lass with flaming red hair, of course, and she frolics about the forest paying no mind to the fact that she is now marriageable age. She wants nothing to do with the three dolts who are presented to her as possible husbands, and would rather go hunting with her bow and arrow than give any of them a kiss.

The action takes place around finding a mystical and ferocious bear who threatens everyone. There is a witch involved (Julie Walters). A bear had bitten off the King’s leg when Merida was a little girl. Now she’s determined to rid the village of a more recent scourge.

The animators have done a splendid job of presenting Scotland in its many colors, dense trees and rugged mountains, all in unobtrusive 3D. It’s a good use of the three dimensional process, and no trickery is used to poke your eye out for effect. At least Pixar has gotten that right and doesn’t make 3D the star, but uses it to enhance the settings and characters.

Brave should delight both families and animation fans alike. It’s a fun film filled with laughs and action. The Scottish accents are not too difficult for Americans to grasp. In fact the mellifluous diction of Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly actually aid in understanding the  flavorful lilt to the language. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, the film is rated PG and is 93 minutes in length.

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