DIRECTOR: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
STARRING: Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thomson, Eric McKidd, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson
GENRE: Animation, Fantasy, FairyTale
When it was revealed that Pixar was going to step into the traditional staple of Disney by creating a Princess Fairy Tale, many including me were a bit wary. How could Pixar, famed for coming up with films that have unexpected themes and characters give their own spin on a Fairy Tale?
Somehow, Pixar managed to pull another one out of the bag… But only just. True it contains everything that we associate with traditional Pixar films. It has an underlying moral beneath it. This time it seemed to be about allowing children to grow up and make their own way of life, while the child should try and see it from a parents point of view. As always Pixar does so in a subtle way that makes the film engaging and funny.
However, it fails to match the greats in Pixars portfolio. This is due to the fact that it tries to be hip and cool a little too much in places. At times I found myself rolling my eyes at how much Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) seemed to be slipping into Kevin the moody teenager. She really seemed to be a bit of brat at times and I really felt sorry for Merida’s mother. She is trying to help her find her place in the clan and since its medieval Scotland this involves Merida marrying one of the sons of the local clan chiefs to keep the fragile peace.
Merida, being the headstrong teenager takes matters in her own hands and starts a chain of events that threaten not only her family, but also the stability of the whole country.
Praise has to be given to Pixar for not falling into the stereotypical image of medieval Scotland we normally see in American films. This is where Pixar excels. Their research is second to none and you do feel that you are in the rolling hills of the Highlands. The detail is jaw dropping and Pixar is constantly evolving in their techniques. While still maintaining that bit of fantasy, they make it move so fluidly that other CGI studios just can’t quite match yet.
All the actors are excellent in their roles and are so suited to who they have been cast as. By having a predominantly Scottish cast, with the exception of Emma Thompson and Julie Walters, it makes it seem so local. (Though one of the characters that Kevin McKidd plays is so hard to understand , even I couldn’t make out his lines.)
One of my favourite characters in the whole movie had to be Julie Walters Wise Woman. She was only in one scene, but for the character was really funny. You knew that she wasn’t just any little old lady and that she liked to cause mischief. What she does to Merida is clever and on retrospect it really is a case of be careful what you wish for.
I also really liked the father-daughter relationship in this movie. I don’t know if Billy Connolly and Kelly MacDonald were in the same room, but the repartee really comes across very well. The way it is written, you could tell that Billy Connolly’s character had believed that he would have no son’s and that he treated Merida in a way you would treat your heir in those days. This is kind of backed up by the triplets (who are silent throughout the movie)
The family dynamic is best shown at the dinner table near the beginning of the movie. It is an almost timeless scene, where the father is recounting a tale and the children, having heard it numerous times act up. You can’t help but smile.
I did like the non-traditional ending of the film and it really did play to the modern audiences. They could have bowed to pressure and took the road well-travelled, but by not doing so it made me smile. I’m not going to spoil it, but it was so nice to see an alternative Happy Ever After.
Overall, the film maintains Pixars ideals by looking at things from a different angle. If there wasn’t Toy Story, Ratitoulle, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc, this film would have scored higher. It is a good family movie, without bowing to the pop-culture references that their counterparts buckle to. The movie didn’t have me looking at my watch at any time. For some good family fun, go see this movie.