Thursday, 6 September 2012

Brave Review And Why Pixar Is Still As Good As They Ever Were

This isn’t necessarily a strict review of ‘Brave’. What it is for the most part is basically me using my own opinion as a springboard to get annoyed and confused at how everyone doesn’t agree with me, while going into numerous other subjects regarding Pixar’s film catalogue and it’s apparent diminishing quality in recent years, and ultimately leaving this whole article as a heavily biased and inevitably meaningless waste of time that only those who shared my opinion in the first place will like and so learn nothing. On that note then let’s blow this shit wide open.

I recently watched Brave before I was away on business in Europe, which I’m not even sure if this website has a fan base in any respect to have even noticed the lack of material on the website recently. Although we have had 2 individuals, or possibly one very determined one, who has found us by Google searching ‘forced enema’, so based on that even if we do have a fan base, I don’t really want to imagine them. I almost feel like how I imagine God does, with the omniscience to know all that goes on in the website, how the people find us and where they’re from, but always disappointed and depressed because of what I find.

So how is then Brave then? Well I watched it with two other friends. They both despised it. Although their main criticism was just that it was an animated film, so I think it could’ve been ‘Shawshank Redemption’ and they’d have shat over the whole thing. If you think reviews of film’s work on a democratic system then I’ve already lost this so you can stop reading. I went into Brave not knowing any plot details, but knew it was about a rebellious Princess called Merinda whose traditionally strict mother is adamant on her becoming an obedient Princess, forcing Merinda to seek the help of a mysterious witch to change her destiny. For the most part you can guess alot of the plot from here and aside from a few extra subplots not related to the family the plot is a very classic Disney princess affair. But that’s not to say it’s unoriginal.

It surprised me alot actually how many extra touches and flairs the creative team at Pixar managed to add. Firstly, the family is incredibly likable and the relationship between Merinda and her parents, her strict mother and care free father is very strongly established, almost for the first hour of the film, which means that the rest of the story is sacrificed to taking part very quickly in the latter half of the film. The backbone of the plot isn’t really the strong suit of the film and is very predictable with no real surprises or twists. There is however an interesting subplot which is unfortunately bought into it to basically thrust in another antagonist and although I liked it, it was ultimately messy and unnecessary within the film as a whole.

Mainly though the strength of the film is the characters. Merinda is very likable as is her father, and even her strict mother especially is very well explored and not left to be simply a bitch, but her reasons and character development are all incredibly well handled. The relationship between Merinda and her mother really carries the film and because of the plot they are thrust together for most of it, which is a relief as it means the film is improved all the more because of it. Because of a plot point, which I won’t mention as I think it ruins the only surprise in the film to know it, the relationship and future of Merinda and her mother actually darkens the tone of the film and it’s good to see this kind of dark material making its way into a family film which for the most part is as traditional as it is.

As far as other characters go in the film, there are a few standouts here and there, namely Merinda’s father, played very well by Billy Connelly, who I continue to like more and more as an actor. Her mute triplet brothers are mainly there for the physical comedy and highlight the expert level of animation and choreography in the film. They play a large part and for the most part remain interesting/ not irritating as hell that their presence in the film isn’t a con. Other than that all the secondary characters are fun and enjoyable, with no one particularly standing out as hilarious or show stealing, but they all do their job to improve the film, with no one around for long enough to detract as for the bulk of the film it is just Merinda and her mother by themselves.

The animation however is the stand out here, with Brave being the best looking Pixar film, let alone best CG animated film that I’ve ever seen. Obviously this is inevitable given that the technology will have moved on since their last film Cars 2, but all the subtle touches, namely the hair in Brave, looks amazing. Everyone in the film seems to have long flowing hair and I assume for the most part this is simply to highlight just how great the hair looks in this film. I’m going to stop talking about the hair now because it might give the impression off that there is very little to talk about in Brave and honestly because of how traditional this film’s story is I’m struggling to not ruin any of the few surprises there are here, so I am kinda running low on material.
You can predict the plot, but you can't predict where those curls are going to be when she flicks that shit. Add an extra star or two for effort.

But this doesn’t mean that Brave is a bad film in anyway. Nor does it mean that Brave is just a film about hair. Brave isn’t Pixar’s most original film ever and the critical reception of the film has certainly shat all over it for this and unfairly so in my opinion. But Brave is still a very good film, with alot of care put into it. What’s here has been done before, but to be honest, I’m not sure it’s been done much better than Brave. Brave is treading an old road, but it’s repaving the shit out of that road as it goes. For comparison’s sake, it shares alot of similarities with Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’, and so if you liked that, which I’m pretty certain everyone does, I see no reason why Brave isn’t another film to check out.

I would confidently put it as one of my favourite films of the year, which is nice to have a Pixar film back on that list having missed out on that in 2011 thanks to a certain shit heap Cars sequel. But what’s here is definitely worth watching. It’s a great classic story, the lead’s are great characters, it’s dark and light with no messy tonal shifts and most importantly everything about the film from the animation to the music is all fantastic and done with the same care and attention that Pixar have given all their films.

 Except Cars of course. Cars will always be average.

The worst idea John Lasseter had since joking to Steve Jobs that radiation gives you superpowers.

But this brings me on to my second point. There seems to be alot of concern as to the decline of Pixar’s quality. I’m really not fully understanding where all this has come from. Yes Pixar have made some average films, most notably the Cars series, and in my opinion ‘Ratatouille’, having seen it for a third time now, becomes more and more annoying and pointless with each viewing. Then again, people love Ratatouille and I can respect that it a brave idea for a family film as there is no obvious antagonist or problem to overcome. In fact the whole middle of that film is just alot of happy people sitting around and making food with no problems to overcome for a whole solid hour of the film. But it is regarded as a great Pixar film. I know people who hate ‘Monster’s Inc’ and ‘Finding Nemo’, even ‘The Incredibles’, which are all quite commonly regarded as some of Pixar’s best work.

Pixar’s most recent work includes Cars 2, ‘Toy Story 3’, ‘Up’ and ‘Walle’, with all the examples aside from Cars 2 all being some of Pixar’s best and possibly even some of the best films ever made. I don’t know if people just expect Pixar to shit gold every time, but when a company makes 3 very good, even great films in a row and then one pretty piss poor one, that surprised no one that it was average, this just doesn’t seem to be evidence that they are falling apart. It takes numerous terrible films in a row to even begin to consider that someone might be losing it. M Night Shyamalan is a perfect example of this. He makes ‘Sixth Sense’, ‘Unbreakable’, ‘Signs’ and then ‘The Village’, all of which are his strongest films, although you could argue are still getting pretty average towards the ass end of the list. But what does he make after this. ‘Lady In The Water’, ‘Avatar’ and ‘The Happening’. This is what a talent screwing himself over looks like. Pixar is nowhere even close to making even Signs yet, let alone The Happening. When Pixar makes a truly god awful film, this will still be just a blip, you have to make numerous terrible films, and not just one. You have to make at least 2 bad films in a row before it should even be considered that they’ve lost it. Pixar have made two average films, and it was from the same franchise and was no surprise when it came around and when it did come around it was years apart anyway.

Pixar, portrayed in this analogy by an Indian-American man with a dusky hollowness in his eyes.

 I think the problem is that most people saw a majority of Pixar films in their childhood and are letting nostalgia get in the way, which is a shame because nostalgia is the circumcision of movie criticism. It serves literally no purpose and in no way matters to the discussion. It’s only held on to by idiots who are stupid enough that they trust their 4 year old self to have a better perspective into film criticism than they do now.
But maybe it’s not just nostalgia. One other reason I can think of is their upcoming films. They do seem to have alot of sequels in the works, which either announced or just rumoured is still never good news. ‘Monster’s University’ is currently the only official sequel in the works and given that Monster’s Inc is one of my favourite Pixar films, it is a worry. People also seem to think that a sequel is an acceptance that they’ve run out of ideas. But this also isn’t really a fear with much grounding. Afterall, Toy Story had a strong foundation and great characters and so these characters shone through every subsequent sequel and made every film in the franchise really great. Cars was a bad sequel because it had a piss pot selection of characters and was a bad first instalment, so in the sequel they had nothing to work with. Pixar seem to be at their best when they have great characters at hand to work with. They’re stories aren’t even particularly original, it’s just the characters and setting that they put them in. Toy Story has both of these and so spawns good sequels. Cars has neither of these and so spawns crap. Monsters Inc has these and so I’m more than confident enough that the sequel will be perfectly adequate.

But what makes the least sense, since there’s no real evidence that Pixar has dropped in quality in the least, is that if people are prophesying doom and gloom for Pixar based solely on their upcoming projects, then they are doing based on nothing. You haven’t seen those films yet. “Oh man that new Pixar film about dinosaurs sounds rubbish and unoriginal”. Oh does it. Dump ‘Finding Nemo’ in that upcoming films list. It’s perfectly reasonable to regurgitate the same statement, “Oh man a film about a talking fish looking for his son, sounds rubbish and unoriginal”. An equally valid critique of a premise that turned out to be a very good film.


All I’m saying here is that the whole “Pixar’s crumbling at the foundations man”, seems to be literally based on nothing other than people who have become so expectant of brilliance and have been living in the anus of an incontinent Pixar for so long, that they don’t even know what shit looks like anymore.

In conclusion, go and watch Brave and stop talking bollocks.


  1. With the year drawing to a close now, would you say that Brave was your favourite animated film of the year? Or do you think Wreck-it Ralph will be able to beat it?

    1. I can't even think of any animated films that came out this year other than the landslide of 3d rereleases of pixar films, which are immediately terrible for that reason.

      I don't know about Wreck it Ralph. It's made by Disney animation studios and I never really like their films particularly, but Tangled was pretty damn good so I'm willing to give it a shot. The reviews for it seem pretty lukewarm though and it is written by the guy that wrote co wrote Walle so who knows it should be excellent given that, but then again Walle wasn't really a dialogue heavy film.
      I don't know though, seems to just be a film based purely on the notion that references to things are funny, and if that's all they're resting on then I have a feeling that Wreck it Ralph will be too average to care about.

      Has anyone seen it who can verify how reference heavy the thing is?

    2. I haven't but I've heard it is respectful-ish in how it approaches and how often it uses Video Games. People have been saying the Grumpy lady from Glee is the best part as like a Master Chief kind of character.

      But then again, it is all hearsay. Hopefully you will find out and preach to the masses!

    3. Hey, woah, let us not forget the frankly excellent Hotel Transylvania in the running for best animated film of 2012. Though I actually missed Brave at the cinema, so I'm not fit to judge yet either.

  2. Will any of the Cynics be watching Epic?

    1. I don't know. The fact it's from the same people that made robots (although to be fair they also made ice age which i liked, and from the reviews I've read make it look more like a kid's film than the all encompassing age group films that Pixar make. For me probably not, it just seems to be made for kids and I imagine I won't enjoy it for that reason. Plus Beyonce's in it, so that doesn't help.

      What about yourself, are you going to see it, and do you like animated films for they're style regardless of their intended age group? Sorry if that last one sounds like a dick question, genuinely interested cause this seems more marketed at kids.