Kelly MacDonald

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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With the first full-length trailer for Brave, Pixar introduced us to what their new world was going to look like, and gave us an indication of what sort of story they were telling. This is the tale of a precocious young Scottish princess named Merida, whose thirst for adventure and tendency to buck the status quo end up entangling her in some high stakes and dangerous situations. Rather than give us more of the same, however, this second full-length trailer that the people at Pixar have released ditches the big picture and focuses in on character. Actually, it’s more of an extended scene than what we think of as a traditional montage format movie trailer. What we get is an archery tournament, set up by Merida’s parents, wherein the winner is supposed to claim the hand of the young princess as their prize. The problem is, things don’t quite go according to plan when Merida enters the tournament herself, proclaims that she won’t be controlled, and then out-shoots all of the men involved. We already knew that she was the sort of strong-willed, independent woman who would make Beyonce proud though, so there’s not really any new insight there.

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Pixar is a company that has developed a very focused vision. They put creators first, they put human drama over visual spectacle, and then they knock the visuals out of the park anyway. For a while I’d been following along with all their releases in a state of near delight, enjoying each film they put out more than the one before it, and I started to think that they were as close to infallible as a movie studio could get. But then they put out Cars 2, which was kind of an overlong mess of juvenile humor set in a pun driven, unrelatable world. This wasn’t the Pixar I loved, this was for kids! But with Brave they seem to be getting back to the basics of what makes them great; stories that can be appreciated by kids and adults alike. Here we have a young girl who is different than everybody else, who doesn’t want to be what the rest of the world tells her a young girl should be. She’s driving at something that everybody is telling her she can’t do. She’s in danger, must rely on herself, and she must rise up and become something she never thought she could if she’s going to survive a great adventure. That’s more like it. That sounds like a prototypical Pixar movie, to a tee. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Simple, elegant and whimsical. All three words accurately describe this one minute teaser for Pixar’s next original work, Brave. Disney and Pixar released it today, mostly in celebration of the success it’s having attached to Cars 2, which won a decisive victory at the box office this weekend. With all the talk of Pixar sequels, including revelations about a fourth Toy Story film, it’s even more delightful to see them working on something not based on previously existing material. In this brief tease we meet Princess Merida, a Scottish warrior princess who will be voiced by Kelly MacDonald. She’s got red hair, a bow and arrow and she’s about to take down a bear. That’s one badass lady.

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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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An evil wizard named Flagg seeks to subvert the Kingdom of Delain by placing a monarch in power that will listen to his every whim. With King Roland’s two sons – Peter and Thomas – Flagg sees an enemy to fear and a child to manipulate into the tool of destruction he needs on the throne.

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Sam Rockwell and Brad William Henke in Choke

To illustrate the raunch, Fox Searchlight has released the following red band trailer, which is about as NSFW as they come.

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No Country for Old Men

I finally see now the masterpiece so many others have heralded the movie as, it just took a couple of extra viewings for me to open my eyes.

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Fox Searchlight announces a date for its Chuck Palahniuk penned Sundance ’08 acquisition…

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From the writer of Fight Club comes a dark comedy about sexual addiction that is a joy to behold.

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Take a look at the first official stills from the upcoming adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel.

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published: 04.16.2014
B-
published: 04.14.2014
B
published: 04.14.2014
A-
published: 04.14.2014
C

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