Cinemania > Pixar’s ‘Brave’ is beautiful, inspiring

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Mpvies-Brave  Brave

The latest from Pixar turns the conventional Disney-style princess into an independent, forceful character capable of her own decisions and responsible for her own future.

Princess Merida, voiced by Kelly MacDonald, has been raised all her life to become queen. Though she struggles to maintain a prim and proper attitude, she’d much rather be galloping through the Scottish moors on her faithful steed, slinging arrows and seeking adventure.

When three suitors vie in a contest to win her hand, Merida enters the competition herself, defying tradition and her parents and sending the kingdom to the brink of turmoil. She soon realizes her wish has consequences, and she must fight to undo what she has done.

While not as strong as some of the studio’s previous efforts, “Brave” stands among them as a heartwarming, impeccably told story. Filled with heart, humor and characters you truly care about, “Brave” seems more human and fully formed than most live-action features. The motivations and struggles are real, and as a result create more realistic tension than most adult-oriented fare. Not to say that there isn’t something for the kids, because “Brave” is at the heart a story for children that embraces the silly when needed. Animated movies can get away with being lazy sometimes, but every aspect of “Brave” has been lovingly crafted. It’s clear the creative team loves storytelling and visually, the film is amazing – from those sweeping Scottish vistas to simple character expressions.

But because “Brave” starts out so strong, it disappoints slightly when the plot really kicks in. It would be spoiler territory to say more, but in the second act the movie struggles to maintain its voice. But by the third act, you may find yourself welling up at a wholly-earned tugging of the heartstrings.

At the heart of the story is the relationship between Merida and her mother, voiced by Emma Thompson. Merida’s father, voiced by Billy Connelly, provides some comic relief, as do her younger brothers, the three triplets. Their physicality and the way they pop in and out of scenes will provide a visual treat for animation fans.

After last year’s “Cars 2,” some feared that Pixar had lost its touch. “Brave” proves the naysayers wrong. This is a beautifully wrought story and a visual masterpiece with a touching message about family and carving your own path.

REG-Movies-Seeking  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

After a failed mission to stop a meteor from crashing into the Earth, people throw off their inhibitions and decide to live out their wildest dreams and desires. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley star in this apocalyptic comedy in which Carell’s wife immediately leaves him for her lover, and he meets up with a quirky neighbor played by Knightley. The two go on a road trip – Carell to meet a lost love and Knightley to say goodbye to her parents. He is tightly wound and high-strung and needs the carefree Knightley to shake his world askew (even though the destruction of all humanity could’ve done the trick). It’s no surprise that the two end up together.

The tones of the movie shift from dark to silly, but my main issue is the leads and their lack of chemistry. “Seeking a Friend” has its moments, but with these fine actors, never quite lives up to its promise.

REG-Movies-Abe  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

The filmmakers could have taken a more lighthearted tone in this movie, which pits the nation’s 16th president against bloodthirsty vampires.

With a premise this silly, it’s odd that the film comes off so gritty and dark. Rather than embrace the ridiculousness, director Timur Bekmambetov puts action at the forefront, creating some cool-looking visual sequences but little else.

The characters act merely as placeholders. Lincoln, played by Benjamin Walker, is no mere vampire foe but a super-powered master of ax-based fighting who slices up the undead with the greatest of ease. Combining vampire mythology with actual history, the film makes interesting choices in story – for example, slavery is presented as a way for vampires to control and devour humans at will, and the Civil War is posited as a chance to fight back against vampiric forces.

Overall, despite some fun elements, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” misses the mark.

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