Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Empire Blogs
Empire States

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Five Things We've Learned About Brave

Posted on Thursday April 5, 2012, 11:42 by Phil de Semlyen in Empire States
Five Things We've Learned About Brave

I was lucky enough to be invited down to watch sneak-peak footage from Pixar’s next big release, Brave, recently. These screenings are usually held in top-secret locations (or 'London hotels' as they're sometimes known), accompanied by embargoes (not the kind in The Phantom Menace) and biscuits so perfect they make choral noises when you eat them. If there’s a frustration in not to being able to tell anyone about it afterwards, it’s counterbalanced by the sheer joy of discovering something so new, it’s not even finished. And, of course, those singing biscuits.

This one felt a bit different. It’s an understatement to say that bad buzz isn't something Pixar has had to worry about down the years – the studio’s Metacritic average is a steepling 81 – but this is an interesting time for the denizens of Emeryville. Cars 2 was its first true critical failure (even if it did brisk trade at the box office) and parent company Disney is still surveying the dead Jeddak on its balance sheet, cranking up the pressure on Brave to find its audience.

What the Gaelic fairy tale also represents is the first creative coalescence between Pixar and Disney, what with the zip and sophistication of Pixar wrapped up in an ancient/modern princess story. Can the two animation houses combine their storytelling strengths without creating the movie equivalent of Toy Story’s hybrid horror toy monster? As director Mark Andrews explained: “This isn’t a classic Disney princess film.”

On this evidence, there’s not much for Pixar, or the Mouse House, to worry about. We sat down to the first 30 minutes of the film, presented by director (and John Carter co-writer) Andrews in dazzling 2D, and this is what we gleaned:

Merida kicks ass
Pixar elder Andrew Stanton has been at pains to point out that filmmaking is about story, not demographics or marketing. But, said Andrews, “story is hell”. The film’s painful genesis has been well-documented –original director Brenda Chapman was replaced by Andrews back in 2010 – but, as Ratatouille proved, Pixar has never been afraid to make tough decisions in the name of excellence. Somewhere out there is an unemployed, possibly chain-smoking Newt, too.

The animation we saw, albeit in some cases unfinished, sets the freespirited Merida (Kelly Macdonald) loose on a dazzling Scottish landscape filled with mountains that stretch to the clouds, phosphorescent will-o'-the-wisps and huge, clawed beasties. It’s basically where the Na’vi go on their holidays.

Brave’s prologue establishes Merida as a bit of tearaway, and a courageous one at that, before introducing her three scampish brothers, and unleashing the fearsome Bear King on his fellow king, Fergus (Billy Connolly). Fergus’s missing leg – lost in that scrap – is the source of much Pixar mischief in later scenes.

Brave has plenty of Pixar wit
Most of the funny emanates from Merida’s three brothers, Harris, Hubert, and Hamish, the comic triplets who unleash levels of carnage that would impress even The Incredibles’ Jack-Jack. They provide the most inventive comic beats we saw, as they steal and sabotage to their little hearts’ content while mum and dad prepare to receive Merida’s (unsuitable) suitors.

The biggest challenge was Merida’s hair
“We’ve been doing hair since Sulley in Monsters Inc.,” said Andrews of Merida’s tumbling locks, “and we had Violet’s long hair in The Incredibles, but hair is a big pain in the ass. All the technicians crapped their pants when we went with kilts and the hair, but everybody embraced it. We had to have a huge technological upgrade just to make this film.”

The Scottish accents are flawless
Considering that most of the cast are Scottish, this isn’t such a big surprise, but it's still nice to hear authentic Celtic tones all the same. This isn’t something Hollywood has always nailed (Scotland is still recovering from Christopher Lambert). Andrews promises that, despite the overlap in casts, there’ll be no Trainspotting-style subtitles in the US. “No way,” he stressed. “Kevin McKidd, who voices Lord MacGuffin and his son, talks in his regional dialect and he’d call up his Mum to remind himself how to say certain things when we were recording. We’re going to leave it unintelligible – that’s the gag.”

All those traditional Pixar Easter eggs will feature
The director wasn’t about to tell us how they snuck a Pizza Planet truck into the Scottish highlands or where to look out for A113, but rest assured, they’ll be there. “Everything’s in there,” Andrews grinned, “all those little insider jokes; you’ve just got to find them. It’s going to be hours and hours when the Blu-ray comes out!” He did let on that John Ratzenberger has a Begbie-grade Scottish accent.

See for yourself when Brave gets its UK release on August 17


Login or register to comment.

Comments

1 Roll
Posted on Friday April 6, 2012, 13:48
Good to be assured!

I was slightly worried about this one after the trailer (looked less exciting than the stellar and similar-ish How to Train Your Dragon), but looking forward to it more now after reading this!

2 Pelle
Posted on Saturday April 7, 2012, 17:19
After that horrible shitload of John Carter I wouldn't trust anything that Andrew Stanton says.

3 devondude
Posted on Tuesday April 10, 2012, 15:34
Even after this, I'm still not looking forward to this film. It looks too much like a Dreamworks production (which is actually rather irritating), and the idea really does not interest me at all! I can't imagine this getting as big of an audience as other Pixar releases. Yes Cars 2 is technically their worst film, but it still took a large amout at the box office! This looks like it'll have the smallest audience of any Pixar film so far (not saying that is a bad thing, just looking at the budget:profit ratio, it's not going to be good). But I do wish the film well, I just won't be spending my money on it.

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (440)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview
By Ali Plumb

The Return Of Max Payne
By Ali Plumb

Empire's Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer Survival Guide
By Ali Plumb

In Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller
By James Dyer

Hands on with El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
By Ali Plumb

Japanese gaming hero Suda 51 on his latest, Shadows Of The Damned
By Ali Plumb

Hands On: Razer Onza
By James Dyer

Empire Sits Down With The Portal 2 Writers, Gets Worryingly Excited
By Ali Plumb

Movie Karaoke, Anyone? Yoostar 2 Can Turn You Into Arnold Schwarzenegger... Kind Of
By Ali Plumb

Have You Seen The Awe-Inspiring Dead Island Trailer Yet?
By Ali Plumb


RECENT COMMENTS

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"It would be hard to make the movie to what fans, such as myself, would expect, which means expectati"  Alixis93
Read comment

E3 2013: David Cage On Beyond: Two Souls
"Very excited about this game. played their previous PS3 game "Heavy Rain" which was unique"  Okester
Read comment

E3 2013: Electronic Arts
""As the event began properly, a bombastic war-themed trailer proved to be a genius parody of th"  Film2012
Read comment

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview
"I am ridiculously excited by the hope that I may have this game wrapped and with my name on it under"  MD3
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"hay look at this these guys are making a Legend of Zelda movie!!! https://www.fac"  link2point0
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"My god, I've been planning this of so long. YES it will work. And I plan to get my ideas where they "  Thinking_fanatic
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"im 50/50 on it because it has a good storyline but it depends on the game its going to copy or if th"  No_1ups
Read comment

The Return Of Max Payne
"I absolutely love the first two Max Payne games (and recently downloaded the first one - for free - "  Draven Cage
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"Maybe write a book first of a really good screen play and see how that goes."  welshcelt
Read comment

Would it Work: A Legend of Zelda Movie?
"...possibly. I think you would have to split one game up though in to 2 maybe 3 movies to get the fu"  welshcelt
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Have You Seen The Awe-Inspiring Dead Island Trailer Yet?
21 comments

Red Dead Redemption Goes To The Movies
7 comments

The New Xbox: Slim, Sleek And Silent
7 comments

Empire at E3: The Return of Goldeneye
3 comments

Empire Sits Down With The Portal 2 Writers, Gets Worryingly Excited
2 comments

Empire at E3: The Nintendo Round-up
2 comments

In Search Of The Ultimate Xbox Controller
1 comments

Empire's Modern Warfare 3 Multiplayer Survival Guide
1 comments

The Return Of Max Payne
1 comments

Lego The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game Preview
1 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Watch: Night At The Museum's Cast Share Their Favourite Robin Williams Performance
Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ben Kingsley pay tribute to the actor

Watch: Jack O'Connell And Luke Treadaway Talk Unbroken
On POWs, panto and how to name your bomber

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)