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I’ll admit that even though I really wanted to see Brave, it wasn’t first priority like it usually is when it comes to most Pixar movies. I wanted to see a film with a strong female protagonist, but for whatever reason I was just dragging my feet when it came around to actually viewing the film. Well, I finally saw it.
Brave follows the story of Merida (Kelly Macdonald), a young Scottish princess who is trying to take control of her destiny and change the threads of fate. All she wants is control of her life while her mother (Emma Thompson) wants her to follow the traditional life of a princess.
While Pixar has made human models in the past, they’ve never made a film that was purely made up of humans. Unless you count The Incredibles, but c’mon! They’re super heroes! They have powers! Either way, it’s not something that Pixar does on a regular basis, and for the most part all of the characters look great. They have that great borderline look of both human and cartoony that helps you laugh and get emotional whenever the story asks for it.
Merida’s hair seems to have received and extra amount of polish in the movie. Her hair is wild and all over the place, it’s something that you can’t help but pay attention to whenever you see Merida on screen. In fact all the hair in the movie is very well done, I won’t spoil anything, but there is a moment in the film where a bear just gets soaked and you can see the fine detail of the wet fur. Kudos to the guys (and gals) at Pixar who worked on all the detail that goes into the hair and fur of all the characters.
When it comes to most Pixar movies, you have to love the fact that they always go for voices who fit the character rather than finding some famous actor who will garner attention for the film. And while Brave does have some big names in it, it’s not like you’ll find Rihanna or Tony Hawk voicing anyone in the film. Billy Connolly does a perfect job as Fergus, Merida’s father. Connolly was the right choice for the character.
While I enjoyed Brave, I’ll admit that it’s not my favorite Pixar movie of all time. It had its funny moments and it had its touching moments, but something about it wasn’t completely doing it for me. I found Brave to be more emotionally moving than funny and I think that’s the reason it didn’t rub me that right way, I just thought that it would be funnier. However, Pixar films tend to get sadder and more emotional with every other film (unless it’s a Cars movie), I shouldn’t have come in with any other preconceived notion of Brave other than it would be a good movie. (Which it is.)
The trailers and commercials for Brave would tend to show a lot from Merida’s three little brothers, but they’re not in the film as much as I thought they would be. They’re silent characters which helps since I think if they talked I would have been annoyed by them the same way I get annoyed with Jerry or the Roadrunner in their respective cartoons. However, the three siblings never got on my nerves the same way Jerry or the Roadrunner did. In fact they were probably my favorite part of Brave.
While there were one or two things that didn’t completely sell Brave for me, I won’t deny that it is a well crafted film that stands up well among other glorious Pixar movies. I could even see more girls dressing up as Merida come Halloween and Comic-Con. It’s good to see a princess in a film who isn’t just meant to be placed in jeopardy and await rescue from some knight.
I love Pixar movies; each one stands out for different reasons. They’re a shining example of animation as art. I mean, if you told me that you never cried to a Pixar movie I know you would be lying to me and then I would punch you in the face. (No I wouldn’t.) Cars however never stood out to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t really care for cars in real life. I like toys, bugs, super heroes and French rats, but I was never a car man.
I liked the first Cars, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it more than twice in my life. I don’t feel like Pixar challenged themselves the same way they did with The Incredibles or Finding Nemo. It seems like Cars was just another run of the mill CGI film. Sure, I think it was better than most bland family films, but I feel like we’ve seen the story before. Minus the anthropomorphic cars, of course. You could probably tell that I wasn’t really excited for the movie, but as a fan of Pixar movies I wouldn’t feel right not seeing the film in theaters.
I was surprised to find out that Cars 2 is almost nothing like the first film. While they could have easily just done a touch up job with the original story, Cars 2 takes a spy action twist that turns Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) into the protagonist of the film. This actually made me really happy since Mater was my favorite character in Cars. Owen Wilson is great and all, but he sounded so bland as a voice actor that it made Cars go by at a snail’s pace.
Thanks to the change in story, I can honestly say that I enjoyed this movie more than the original. That said, I still don’t think that it’s as strong as other Pixar films. Cars 2 can be funny and charming at times, but it never really lasts that long. Instead you may find yourself bored in between segments of the story.
Still, this movie has enough going for it where you will be entertained. The spy undertones help immensely, since I really don’t feel that this movie could have worked if it was just about Lightning McQueen racing in different parts of the world. I know that Disney made a lot of money off of the Cars license, but I really don’t see how they can continue to make sequels to this series the same way they did for Toy Story.
None of the voice acting in this movie really sticks out besides John Turturro (Francesco Bernoulli), Michael Caine (Finn McMissle) and Eddie Izzard (Sir Miles Axelrod). Of course Larry the Cable Guy still does a great job with his work as Mater, but most of the voices in the movie are unremarkable.
I also wasn’t impressed at all with the music in the movie. I know that this isn’t that big of a thing for some people, but Pixar has always had great music in their movies. For the life of me though, I can’t remember any of the music from Cars 2. It all just kind of blends into the background and you don’t notice any of the music until the end of the movie.
Cars 2 is an okay movie and should at least be given a chance, but I can’t think of anyone who would even place it in their top 5 Pixar films. I know it must be hard for Pixar to continuously outdo itself every year, so I’m not going to start going on an anti-Pixar rant. I enjoy Cars 2 enough where I probably would recommend it to someone who wants to show their kids a movie. Boys in particular will probably like it because of all the explosions and spy cars, but I could see why girls might not like it as much. (I hope no one considers that sexist.) Still, this movie deserves a chance just because of its espionage angle.
Maybe it’s far in the back of your mind right now. I mean, it’s been a while since you saw the movie, right? Let’s go back to the moment right after you saw Toy Story 3. Were you feeling something? A sense of maturity maybe? It may be different for everyone else but Toy Story 3, more than any other film nominated this year, has received the most wide spread acclaim from everyone I know. I’m glad the Academy decided to put it in the running for Best Picture and I’m sure it will win for best animated film, but I can’t help but look back and come to the conclusion that it was my favorite film of 2010. I watched the Social Network, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Black Swan and I enjoyed them all immensely, but I never had the urge to go back and watch them again and again. Toy Story 3 on the other hand I’ve seen more than six times.
Now I’m sure that’s not a record, but Toy Story 3 always kept me interested. There was always something new to discover and appreciate in the film. Whether it be noticing the evolution in Pixar’s human animation or noticing that the trash man in the beginning of the film is actually Sid from the first movie, there is always something that shows you that Pixar really cares about their craft. Why do you think there are such hardcore Pixar fans in the world? They’ve discovered just how amazing the studio really is.
So I’ll openly say it, if I had to choose best picture of 2010 I would say Toy Story 3. It has everything you would want in a film: Great story, interesting characters that you become personally invested in, underlying themes, symbolism for how we treat our old in today’s world, excitement, humor, beautiful animation and cinematography that obviously had a lot of work put into it. Is it so crazy that maybe the best film of the year was really an animated film?
Tell me you can’t feel the emotion in the still photo!
I think you know where I’m going with this, right? Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture in 1992 and lost out to Silence of the Lambs. Now I won’t say that Silence of the Lambs didn’t deserve it, it’s one of my favorite films. The problem I have is that the Academy wouldn’t put an animated movie up for best picture again until Up. Even then, the only way it was allowed to be nominated was when the Best Picture category grew to ten nominations instead of the standard five.
Animation fans had to wait until 2001 for a ‘Best Animated Feature Film’ category to be inserted into the award show. Passing up some of the greatest animated films of all time, this category has always seemed like a way of the Academy Awards patting animators on the back while secretly giving them the finger when they weren’t looking. 2008 was a great year for films, and although I’ll never know how the Curious Case of Benjamin Button got nominated for best picture, or why The Wrestler and The Dark Knight were overlooked, something even more sinister stood out. WALL-E had come out that same year and when people bring up that movie they usually like to compare it to none other than Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, that landmark movie. However, it wasn’t nominated for best picture. It just had to stay with the rest of the guys at the animation award area.
More commercially viable than 2001: A Space Odyssey
I can see some problems with putting an animated film up for best picture though, if there were only one animated movie nominated then it would ruin the ‘Best Animated Film’ category. Fans would immediately know there is something up. The category would then become stale and boring once fans realize that the best animated movie is already nominated for best film.
So we now have the prospect of an animated film, that has probably reached the most critical acclaim of any film nominated this year, having a chance to win the top award. I’ll be honest, I don’t see it happening. People are too afraid of animation winning such a high award. People will say that things like emotion and acting can’t come through in animated film. But they’re full of it, there isn’t one second in the film where you don’t fear what will happen to the toys and the voice acting is so well done that it seems almost natural coming out of the toys. (When you see a Mr. Potato Head don’t you think of Don Rickles?) George Lucas tried to get Frank Oz nominated for doing the voice of Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, but was told by the Academy that voice acting didn’t count. I say it’s time to abolish that type of thinking when it comes to nominating actors. You can’t say that Craig T. Nelson didn’t pull off the perfect voice of a loving dad when he played Mr. Incredible.
Failed, the Academy has.
So maybe Toy Story 3 won’t win. The Social Network and Black Swan seem like the most dependable choices for a win this year. However, how long will it take until members of the Academy take notice of how amazing animated films can be and that maybe they are worthy of the top honor at the Academy Awards?