And hands down, my expectations were met. If anybody else loves Pixar and was worried (as I was) that this film was a departure from their usual magic, put those fears aside. This movie is great.
Before talking about the movie, I want to comment on the "short" before the film. As with all Pixar movies (and more and more on other animated films as well), they had a short cartoon. This one was called "La Luna." It starts with a young boy sitting in the middle of the water with two older men. There are no words but a lot of mumbled grunts and other unspoken language. As the title suggests, the short involves the Moon. Through most of the short it felt like we were balancing between a lovely piece of artwork and silly humor that tried to stop just short of the slapstick humor of cartoon. But then, in the final moments of the short there is a great image that pulls everything together in a surprising way that is absolutely fantastic and makes the whole thing very endearing and special. This one is a sweet and fun showcase of talent.
The artwork is superb as is expected from Pixar. Some of the scenery and landscape shots were absolutely stunning and looked almost photo-realistic. There was a scene where Merida and her mother were walking through the forest and at quick glance it looked almost like a live-action movie rather than a cartoon. Still, the colors and palette were vibrant and cartoony enough to maintain the animation aspect, but I was very impressed with the art. The grass. The water. The hair. The cloth. Great work.
The soundtrack was also great. The score is wonderfully engrossing and a lot of fun. They presented a wonderfully Celtic vibe and had some great vocal selections as well (all background…there aren't any musical numbers in the movie).
Over the years I have absolutely loved the Pixar films. I've been a big Disney fan since I was a little kid and enjoy those movies but I have to admit that some of the Disney animated films of the past decade(s) have lost some of their charm and magic. Amid the slight slump from Disney, I feel like Pixar has picked up the slack. There are certainly Pixar films I like more than others and I haven't seen all of them (the only full-length film I haven't seen is Ratatouille) but I really like all of their work and totally love many of them.
Overall I really had a ton of fun with this movie and look forward to seeing it again. All of the family really enjoyed it (even my oldest who initially didn't plan on coming). If you're on the fence but have enjoyed Pixar in the past, I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. If you're not a fan of cartoons and kids movies, this one might just straddle the fence enough between childish and grown up to help you have fun.
4.5 out of 5 stars
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