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Brave (Trailer)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Disney has been sucking pretty hard since mid-2009 or so. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s recap.

  1. It started with G-Force, a Jerry Bruckheimer film that underperformed at the box office. Bruckheimer would later go on to make Prince of Persia and The Sorceror’s Apprentice, both of which were franchise non-starters.
  2. Then came A Christmas Carol, one of Zemeckis’ mo-cap productions that landed with a sickening thud. Zemeckis followed this up with Mars Needs Moms, which turned out to be one of the most expensive and humiliating bombs in Disney history. This one-two punch was so awful that it led Disney to finally shutter Robert Zemeckis’ mo-cap career for good.
  3. There were two attempts to build the Disney Princess line-up with The Princess and the Frog and Tangled. Neither met expectations at the box office.
  4. Disney put untold millions of dollars into producing and promoting Tron: Legacy, which turned out to be a colossal disappointment for fans and a movie that only barely managed to outgross True Grit.
  5. They decided to make another Winnie the Pooh movie, only to flush it down the toilet by launching it against the final Harry Potter movie. Sadly, I don’t know if they fired the dumbass responsible for choosing that release date.
  6. Alice in Wonderland and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides both managed to make money, though both were reviled by critics and moviegoers alike.
  7. In between the above-mentioned movies, there were the miscellaneous box-office duds of Secretariat, Prom, and… *sigh* Old Dogs.

As always, the responsibility of lifting Disney’s reputation falls to the creative minds at Pixar. Yet even they’ve been having a fallow period of late. They just retired their cornerstone franchise (albeit in triumphant fashion) with Toy Story 3, and Cars 2 was a critically panned movie that never escaped the label of “cash grab,” though grab cash it did. Don’t get me wrong, even when Pixar is at its worst, it’s still above and beyond most other studios at their best. However, Pixar had built its reputation on movies that succeeded through original stories and awesome characters, rather than coasting on franchises as most other studios do. There was definitely a sense that the pendulum was finally starting to swing the other way, especially with news of the imminent Monsters University.

On the other hand, Brave.

This one is a completely new story, billed as Pixar’s first fairy tale. The project was originally set up under Brenda Chapman, who was ready to be the very first female director on a Pixar movie. But then she was off the project and replaced with Mark Andrews, here making his directing debut. Nothing against Andrews, of course (he was right-hand man to Brad Bird, and he directed the Oscar-nominated short One-Man Band), but the replacement is disappointing nonetheless.

Brave also features Pixar’s first entry in the Disney Princess roster with Merida, a red-haired royal with a great hand at archery. She was originally slated to be voiced by Reese Witherspoon, until fate intervened and the lovely Kelly MacDonald was cast instead. This was a huge improvement, not only because MacDonald is a far superior actress, but also because she’s genuinely Scottish. This makes her a much better fit among actors like Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane, all of whom are in the cast. In fact… *checks Wikipedia* No, John Ratzenberger is an American. Can’t wait to hear his accent for this one.

As you may have guessed, this story is set in Scotland. Let’s see if the trailer can tell us any more.

 

Oh, look. A Disney Princess who wants freedom and adventure, tired of all the security that comes with being royalty. What a nice change of pace. *yawn*

Really, this trailer doesn’t give me a whole lot else to latch onto. There’s something about a bear, but how is that relevant? There’s a gathering of families in power, but why? Merida wants to defy gender expectations and go out on her own, but to do what? There’s also the matter of those blue wisps and what appeared to be a cauldron, where do they fit in?

Okay, even if the story is still a little vague, at least the voice actors all sound like they’re having a great time. There are also a couple of jokes that hold promise, and the stylized character designs hold up better than I might have expected. And of course, the scenery looks phenomenal throughout. Having said that, let me ask you this: Imagine that you didn’t know this was a Pixar movie. Imagine that the trailer started up without any sign that this was from any Disney company. Would you still know that this was a Pixar product? Could you have guessed that this didn’t come out of Dreamworks or Sony? Food for thought.

I think it’s also worth pointing out that in a very unusual move, Michael Giacchino didn’t sign on to do the score this time. No, this score was written by Patrick Doyle, a composer with a very respectable list of accomplishments to his name. His most notable collaborations appear to have been with Kenneth Branagh, scoring for all of the thespian’s Shakespeare adaptations, in addition to Frankenstein and Thor. Doyle’s work might also be recognized from Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the fourth Harry Potter film. In other words, Doyle has a lengthy track record of working on British productions, with a unique mixture of low-key pictures and big-budget blockbusters to his career. Sounds like an ideal choice to me.

It’s early days yet for this film and it’s clear that there’s still a lot to be seen, though it’s obvious that there’s a ton of talent going into this movie and the artwork is clearly being crafted with the utmost care. So far, I think it’s safe to expect more from this movie instead of less. Time will tell when Brave comes out on June 22nd next year.

One Comment

  1. Ping from AvatarIII:

    totally agree about the “food for thought” having seen the trailer, my main thought was “this looks/feels more like How To Train Your Dragon than a Pixar movie” which isn’t a complaint as such, since HTTYD was probably one of the best non-pixar CGI movies ever, but perhaps it means that Pixar is behind the trend for the first time.

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