I’m constantly amazed at how finely crafted Pixar’s movies are. If God is in the details, then so is the TLC in every frame of their movies. Love or loathe ’em, you can’t help but notice the evidence of how acutely analysed and debated their films are during production- how much attention is given to every shot, every edit, every scene minutely storyboarded and discussed… and that’s all well before anything is actually animated and rendered (the details there hardly need considering, the proof is there in the gorgeous HD visuals). I often come away from viewing a Pixar movie wishing that traditional live-action movies could be given such evident attention. I’m not suggesting that Pixar movies are perfect, but you can see the labours of the film-makers in everything- the polish of the art direction and animation/rendering, the inch-perfect editing, the finely-chiselled, perfectly-paced script, elements of which tailored for both children and adults alike. The thought processes evident in every decision in the film-making process. Some films seem almost haphazardly thrown together (note the plot-holes in many a blockbuster such as Prometheus) but you cannot say that about a Pixar movie.
Not all Pixar films are equal of course- to be honest to expect that would be grossly unfair. Its like expecting Ridley Scott or Steven Spielberg to nail it every time they make a movie. There are good Hitchcock films and great Hitchcock films, and I’d prefer watching a ‘good’ Hitchcock over many other directors ‘great’ films. So I’ll be clear now and state that Brave is a good Pixar movie rather than a great one. My personal Pixar favourite remains Ratatouille, an utterly gorgeous romantic comedy that is so perfectly crafted its a joy to behold and hear- pure cinema in other words, and a perfect movie to my mind. Brave, released last year to a mixed response, may not reach such greatness, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless- its certainly fair superior to stuff like Cars 2 and I actually prefer it to perceived ‘classics’ like Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc (I confess I actually loathed the latter and cannot believe we are to be inflicted by a sequel this year).
Brave might be perceived as being, well, somewhat slight compared to other Pixar films. But that’s like comparing different flavours of cheese- not every Pixar movie is going to be a laugh-riot or an ‘epic’. Brave is a different animal compared, say, to The Incredibles or Toy Story or Wall-E. Its more of a children’s fairytale (Pixar’s first?), a gentle adventure- maybe it is rather simple… dare I say, even European as opposed to Americanised Disney-fodder. It is what it is, and for what it attempts to be it largely succeeds. Its funny, its breathtaking to look at, the voice actors are excellent- and at something like 90 minutes in length it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome. I thought it was great. I had it on Blu-ray at Christmas and only just got around to watching it, and I regret having waited so long. Look forward to watching it again in fact. On Blu-ray the image is consistently stunning, the animation frequently, yes, I’ll use that word again- breathtaking.
Oh, and the icing on the cake- the Pixar short La Luna, included on the disc as an extra, is an utterly charming and whimsical fantasy of such beauty and grace its worth the price of the disc on its own. It’s that good.