Brenda Chapman

Russell Crowe in Noah

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a column about movies and stuff. With a particular focus on “and stuff.” We begin tonight with a shot of Russell Crowe as Noah, in the upcoming vision from director Darren Aronofsky. He’s looking quite grizzled, like an older version of his character from Gladiator. And that’s alright. Because that situation worked out pretty well. Then again, he also looks like a slightly older version of his Robin Hood…

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It’s not impossible for lauded animation house Pixar to make a mistake (or two, in the case of Cars, which does still pull in great affection from the younger set), and setting up their first film led by a female protagonist and with a brand new fairy tale as plot backbone in no way sounded like a mistake from conception. But despite a checklist of elements that should mark Brave as a bold new classic for both Pixar and Disney, the film instead diverges spectacularly –  it is both a middling example of Pixar innovation and wit and a beautiful introduction to one of Disney’s most compelling Princesses yet. Simply put, Brave is a poor Pixar feature, but it’s a wonderful Disney Princess film. What Brave has to offer is twofold: a bold new Princess and an exciting new world for her to live and play in. Still better, it appears as if Disney, Pixar, writers and directors Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, and additional writer Irene Mecchi set out to accomplish those exact aims when crafting Brave. That sort of praise might not exactly seem like the kind worth singing, but when it comes to Brave, a film that was conceived of and written by Chapman before she was eventually ousted as the director in 2010, it’s important to note. The aims of Brave are true, but its methodology in getting in there doesn’t quite hit the mark.

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Pixar’s great, wonderful, incredible, stellar, etc. That goes without saying but must be said in every post about Pixar ever, because them’s the rules. However, one of the things Pixar has been lacking is a sole female lead to go on an adventure and win the day while learning a lesson. They’ve definitely distanced themselves from the Disney princess aesthetic, and it’s time for them to come a little closer. Brave is the story of a young Scottish princess named Merida who is skilled with a bow and with defying mystical, sacrosanct acts that bring down terrible fates on her people. So, she sets out to make things right with a sage older character, a magical wish, and some comic relief. The cast here is fantastic. Kelly MacDonald will voice Merida. Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane are all on board as well. That’s a strong list right there. Plus, EW has some pictures that show off the view point and computerized beauty of their fictional Highlands (and what looks like painstaking concept art):

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