Movie Bite: Brave

“Brave,” the newest PIXAR/Disney animated movie, featuring the voices of Kelly Macdonald as Merida, Billy Connolly as Fergus, her father, and Emma Thompson as Elinor, her mother, remains true to PIXAR’s non-typical fairytale princess stories. It is about a girl who, unhappy with her requirement to marry, decides to change her fate and turns her mother into a bear.Despite the fact that  PIXAR is now a subsidary of Disney, Merida is, thankfully, not a typical Disney princess. While I have no quarrel with the classic Disney princess, it was wonderful to have a different form of love in Merida’s life;  familiar  instead of  romantic.

Overall, “Brave” was a humorous, solid story with amusing characters. The voice-acting was quite good, and the Scottish accents authentic,  a definite plus. There are some minor plot issues; the animation was admirable in most parts, ( except for Merida’s horse, which did not move at all like one).

Story-wise, “Brave” had some bumps. It would have been better if the plot had focussed more on the mother-daughter struggle and less on the “villain” Mordu, who wanders in and out of the plot apparently when the director felt a bit of action was needed. His initial appearance, in the opening scene, is fine, it helps show the entire range of reactions between father, mother, and daughter.   It’s hard to even call Mordu a villain, as he really just goes about attacking people.

My other quarrel  was with the deus ex machina feel to the ending.The spell that is placed on Elinor appears rather finicky. In order for Elinor to turn back into a human, she and her daughter need to repair their relationship . Merida and Elinor, despite bonding early on, never seem to quite hit upon the exact requirement to break the spell. It is only when Merida begins to cry that Elinor returns to being human. It is meant to be touching, but it is more annoying than anything else.

This may not be the top film in the PIXAR roster, but it is certainly enjoyable, and does point out the importance of family; romance can wait until one is ready.

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Movie Bite: Prometheus

Prometheus, directed and created by Ridley Scott, featuring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and Charlize Theron, is a surprisingly difficult movie to discuss.  The idea behind the film itself is amazing: we humans were actually created by alien beings, called Engineers, from a mysterious planet; we send a team to investigate, only to come upon ruin and  death.  Upon hearing of its release, I was extremely excited, but for all that’s good, there is an equal amount of evident failure.

Cinematically, the film was magnificent and fans of H.R. Giger or the previous Alien movies will likely enjoy the visual aspects. There were one or two major problems. The design of some of the  creatures did not integrate well with the rest of the film. In this case, some of the effects left me scratching my head at times. Yes, this is science fiction, but logic should still apply – one of the worst effects was the old age stipple that the FX team attempted on Guy Pearce. It contrasted sharply with the fantastic work on the  full suit of the Engineers, the god-like aliens.

The plot itself was subject to its own set of ups and downs. As previously mentioned, the idea behind the movie is compelling one. However, the execution of that idea falls short of  expectations. I’m not sure who is at fault here.   Damon Lindelhof, (of Lost fame),  seems to be shouldering most of the blame, but some shortcomings should be attributed to screen writer John Spaihts .

The entire trip, despite its high expense, seemed extremely ill-thought out. None of the characters appeared to know each other upon arriving to the planet, and even more strangely, none of them even knew why they were  on the trip. If I were going to potentially waste  four years of my life on travel time alone, I would want to be briefed while I still had a chance to back out.

Beyond that, the film included a trope so overdone I am certain we can all recall at least three films we’ve seen it  in:  a character will become injured somewhere along the line and suddenly, as if by magic, be perfectly fine as soon as it’s convenient. Just how did Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace, manage to run around with her stomach stapled from a sort of C-section.That particular moment suspended my belief in the story entirely.

Despite its faults, the movie in many ways is still worth seeing. There are obvious issues, but you may be able to get past them, especially if you don’t pay close attention to the details. It is clear that Ridley Scott meant for Prometheus to be a part of the Alien franchise. Perhaps if he had avoided combining it with his previous movies, it would have been better and less constraining for the writers and himself.

 
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