The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
"Brave" is the latest animated film from Pixar, and therefore becomes the film the parents of the world will be dragged to by their kids. The good news is that the kids will probably love it, and the bad news is that parents will be disappointed if they're hoping for another Pixar groundbreaker. Unlike such brightly original films as "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "WALL-E" and "Up," this one finds Pixar poaching on traditional territory of Disney, its corporate partner. We get a spunky princess; her mum, the queen; her dad, the gruff king, an old witch who lives in the woods, and so on.
The princess is Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), seen in an action-packed prologue as a flame-haired Scottish tomboy whose life is changed by an early birthday gift of a bow, which quickly inspires her to become the best archer in the kingdom. Then we flash forward to Merida as a young lady of marriageable age, who is startled by request from Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) to choose among three possible husbands chosen by her clan.
Nothing doing, especially since all three candidates are doofuses. Merida leaps upon her trusty steed and flees into the forest, where her friends the will-o-the-wisps lead her to the cottage of a gnarled old witch (Julie Walters). She begs for a magic spell that will change Queen Elinor's mind, but it changes more than that: It turns Elinor into a bear. Witches never know how to stop when they're ahead.
Luckily, the magic spell comes with an escape clause. Merida has exactly two days to reverse the charm. After she and her mother absorb what has happened, they begin to work together and grow closer than ever, even though the queen cannot speak. There is a tricky complication. King Fergus (Billy Connolly) had his leg bitten off by a bear (in the prologue), and has been indisposed toward them ever since. Unsurprisingly, when he sees his wife as a bear, he fails to recognize her.
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