Monday, March 28, 2011

First Look: Brave

Entertainment Weekly has a first look at Pixar's latest flick, the mystical Scottish fairy tale Brave. It's been on my radar for several years now, since it was The Bear and the Bow. Never a studio to rest on its laurels (well, aside from the so-so Cars and its presumably so-so sequel), this one sounds like a neat change of pace and an interesting twist on the familiar Disney fairy tale template.

The film is Pixar's first with a female co-director (The Prince of Egypt's Brenda Chapman), first foray into the fairy tale and, realistically, their first with a strong female character. The case has been made for Eve, but (a) she's a non-sexual entity, a robot, and (b) Wall·E is the real star of the show, even if Eve is the heroic no-nonsense type. In Brave, Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting, No Country for Old Men, the under-seen gem Merry Gentleman) will voice Merida, a tomboy princess who embarks on a journey to right a (currently vague) wrong.

I've been a fan of Macdonald's ever since No Country for Old Men. Interestingly, she tends to get cast as either Scottish or Irish a lot (she's also great in HBO's Boardwalk Empire), even though she did a bang-up job with an American accent for the Coen brothers. To me, her performance as Carla Jean, the only character with an actual arc, was deserving of Oscar recognition.

Here, Macdonald replaces Reese Witherspoon, which is a welcome switch even if it means she's once again been type-casted. Witherspoon isn't a bad actress, per se, but it's hard to think of her as a warrior princess. Macdonald, however, has the chops to pull it off.

Kelly Macdonald to play Scottish warrior princess.

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