I went to see Brave last night, fancying a break and interested by the semi-mythical Scottish setting. It's a pretty good film, but what surprised me at the end was seeing Steve Purcell's name (of Sam and Max fame) flash up so prominently in the credits: he co-directed and co-wrote it. I knew he was doing something at Pixar, but I didn't know what. Now I do!
As to the film... I think the plot has a few weak parts in it. The overall structure is predictable, though the screenplay does a good job of deliberately throwing 'a spanner in the works' and surprising the audience, though what is expected to happen, always happens in the end anyway. Most plots do this but I would have liked a bit more bravery (ironically) and doing something that was really different rather than something that just appeared to be different but wasn't really.
There's a point near the end that illustrates this... you think X is going to happen and then Y happens (for no discernible reason), but then X actually does happen after all. It makes it feel a bit unsatisfactory -- why did Y happen? Just to make the plot seem less formulaic.
I also had an issue with the central plot which concerns a witch and a spell. Why did the witch disappear? Why did she leave a vague riddle? Just to create a problem for the characters to tackle. Which is fine, if the witch intended for the characters to work things out for themselves, but there's no indication of this. It's a common trope for the journey to be the important thing rather than a simple act, but it's implied that the simple act is what is needed to solve the problem, and the journey the characters take to perform the act loses the importance it might have had if the witch had been a stronger character.
My last problem was that the film could have been funnier. The jokes it had worked well enough, but it didn't have enough of them. Again, it felt a bit too safe.
All that said, it's a beautiful and entertaining film. The main character is particularly appealing, and her hair looks amazing. I imagine there must have been a lot of people working on her hair alone.
Can you feel the Steve Purcell influence? Not massively -- and I had to double check it was the same Steve Purcell that we know from Sam and Max (which it is, unless IMDB is mistaken). There's a lot in the film about animals, which I guess is a Purcell interest. There might be something in the visual style which is Purcellian as well. There is a concept art picture on his blog: http://spudvisionblog.blogspot.co.uk/
Yeah, noticed it too.
Also he voices the crow, according to the credits.
Great. Now I have to see it. :(
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