Monday, June 25, 2012
We may never know the story that Brenda Chapman intended to tell before being removed from the director's chair, but the story we have is a retread. It comes in a visually attractive package with qualities that were unachievable just a few years ago, but it feels like Pixar, having rejected Chapman, reverted to something it felt comfortable with. So while Brave isn't one of the Pixar sequels already released or yet to come, it still feels overly familiar with only the environment to set it apart. A reliance on setting, rather than story, smacks of the later drawn Disney features.
There are echoes here of How to Train Your Dragon, Mulan, Brother Bear, Donald's Nephews, Beauty and the Beast, Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, Princess Mononoke, and The Adventures of Robin Hood. That's evidence of a story team taking the easy way out, using elements they know will work, rather than letting events grow out of the characters' actions.
Brave will make a lot of money and shows the heights the Pixar artists are capable of reaching. However, I personally take more pleasure from films like Persepolis, The Illusionist, Spirited Away and Mary and Max than I do from Pixar's recent films. While they may not be as slick or elaborate, those films have singular points of view.
My opinion of Brave won't change anything. Mainstream animated features are too successful to let dissenting voices bother anyone with influence. But animation has once more decided to live within a cage of its own making and is happy to stay put, safe and secure. Frankly, it's a waste of talent.