“Saying that Brave is entertaining but not astonishing is pretty much admitting your straight-A student got a B.”
-Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post
Brave, the latest offering from animation powerhouse Pixar is a beautifully done fairy tale that relies a little too heavily on its Disney influences. Typically known for their unique style and characters (toys, bugs, monsters, superheroes, cars, fish, rats, robots, and an old man flying in a balloon powered house), Brave almost seems like Pixar playing it safe.
Originally titled The Bear and the Bow, it seems like Brave went through a fairly tumultuous development process to become the film it is today. First conceived by Disney veteran Brenda Chapman(The Prince of Egypt), it was considered somewhat of a milestone as Pixar has never had a female director. However, the film drew criticism for ousting her in favor of writer/storyboarder Mark Andrews (The Incredibles, John Carter) due to creative differences.
The story starts in traditional fairy tale fashion with Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) choosing adventure and fun over stuffy royal traditions like picking a suitor and wearing royal gowns. After an argument with her mother the Queen, the film takes a unique turn involving magic and bears and funny blue creatures called whisps. To say any more would be delving too deep into spoiler territory, even this second-act plot development has been expertly hidden from the marketing of the film.
Brave surely lives up to the animation standards of a typical Pixar film (jaws will drop at Merida’a flowing head of red tangled hair, intricately animated to perfection), however it does suffer from the weakest plot outside of the Cars franchise. It’s tough to hold Pixar up to their own standards because of their near perfect track record, but this film seems almost a trite afterthought when compared to the Toy Story franchise, Wall-E and Up. Still, a less than average movie for Pixar is a very good movie by any other standard and it beats out any recent offering from other animation houses. Fans of great animation and fairy tales will love Brave, but don’t expect the same deep themes and expertly crafted plots of previous Pixar efforts.
“This is the perfect sci-fi movie”
While I’m not sure I completely agree with that sentiment, Prometheus, the new quasi-prequel to Ridley Scotts 1979 classic, Alien, is a fantastic piece of film making and is one of the more thought-provoking films in recent memory. While it doesn’t directly lead up to the events of the original, fans will be able to piece together just how this story fits in with the rest of the Alien franchise without too much trouble.
The Prometheus, a spaceship in the year 2093 (about 90 years before the events of Alien) lands on a distant planet to seek the origin of mankind. Finding a giant pyramid-like structure that’s clearly manmade, our crew members investigate and that’s where the fun begins. Among the crew, Naomi Rapace does an honorable job channeling her inner Sigourney Weaver as scientist Elizabeth Shaw. The ubiquitous Michael Fassbender has an interesting turn as a know-it-all android named David. Other cast member of note incude Charlize Theron as Vickers, the stern corporate representative and Idris Elba as Janek, the no nosense captain of the Prometheus.
There are so many great scenes and set pieces in this film, it wil come to rival the two original Aliens in terms of iconic moments. One scene in particular (I won’t completely give it away but it involves a robot surgeon, a ceseraen section, and a squid) was so frightening and tense it gave me chills. The seamless blend of outstanding casting (particularly Rapace and Fassbender) and creepily perfect atmospheric elements elevates Prometheus to another level.
Some may be turned off by the lack of “answers” as the deep philosophical ideas hinted at in this film are not developed in depth (What else would you expect with a script from one of the minds behind televisions ‘Lost’?) Scott is more interested in crafting a visually stunning, often times terrifying piece of science fiction that stays with you long after you leave the theater.
Very minor problems aside, (terrible looking old-age makeup among others) I really enjoyed the story’s through line, visual effects (some of the best you’ll see), production design, score and hauntingly beautiful cinematography. The directing was masterful, acting superb and the semi-ambiguous ending is perfect. If you’re looking for answers to the meaning of life, look elsewhere. But Prometheus is a near flawless entry into the Alien mythos that fans of the original films will love.
Welcome to FilmFire, our movie review blog.
We have a movie loving crew here, and a typical Monday morning involves discussions of our favorite current movies. One day someone joked that we should create a movie review blog and laughingly called it FilmFire. The name and the idea stuck.
So here’s our little piece of the Internet devoted to something a little more exciting than insurance.
We hope you enjoy.