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Disney's 'Brave' heart

Published July 21. 2012 10:55AM

Much has been made that with "Brave," a Disney animated feature for the first time has a strong female protagonist.

What about "The Little Mermaid"?

What about "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"?

Well, there were those seven dwarfs hanging around.

The difference here is that in "Brave" the young damsel is no "Cinderella" waiting for or seeking her Prince.

The animation in "Brave" is breath-taking, especially in 3D, although "Brave" is not a film that must be seen in the 3D format unless you're really into analyzing fur and hair. The red ringlet's on Merida's head "do" seem to take on a life of their own.

The animation of the waterfalls, streams and lakes is also exceptional.

Even so, effects alone do not an animation feature make. There is the matter of story.

Here, "Brave" throws the audience a real curve ball, or perhaps an arrow that doesn't always hit the bulls-eye.

The matter of Merida being an expert archer is brought up because, in previews for the film, much was made of her expertise with bow and arrow.

However and this is a spoiler alert a medieval era bow and arrow archery contest is not what "Brave" is all about.

Three suitors from formerly rival Scottish clans, summoned by Queen Elinor and King Fergus, are rejected by their daughter, Princess Merida. Mother and daughter argue about that.

Merida, asserting her independence, hops on her trusty horse to follow blue translucent spirit figures, called will of the wisps, into the woods. They lead her to the cottage of a witch, who agrees to place a curse on Queen Elinor.

Queen Elinor is transformed into a big black bear. If Merida thought her mother was "overbearing" before, when she becomes a Mama Bear, she becomes even more "unbearable."

Brenda Chapman, who wrote the story for "Beauty and the Beast"; Mark Andrews, who wrote the screenplay for "John Carter"; and John Purcell, who wrote the "Adventures of Sam and Max," co-wrote and co-directed "Brave." Irene Mecch, who wrote the screenplay for "The Lion King," also co-wrote the screenplay.

"Brave" has the elements of a cut and paste job. It borrows heavily from several fairy tales in the Brothers Grimm tradition.

Kelly Macdonald voices Merida. Billy Connolly voices Fergus. Emma Thompson voices Elinor. Julie Walters voices the Witch.

The soundtrack has rousing Celtic music.

"Brave" is a film that can be enjoyed by the entire family. "Brave" has a lot of heart. It falls short of heralding a "Brave" new world.

"Brave," MPAA Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children) for some scary action and rude humor; Genre: Animated, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy; Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Stay to the very end of the credits for "Brave" to see a bonus scene.

Box Office, July 6: "The Amazing Spider-Man," as expected, opened big at No. 1, $65 million for the weekend and $140 million since the July 4 holiday, knocking "Ted" to No. 2, $32.5 million, $120.2 million, two weeks.

3. "Brave," $20.1 million, $174.5 million, three weeks; 4. "Savages," $16.2 million, opening; 5. "Magic Mike," $15.6 million, $72.7 million, two weeks; 6 "Madea's Witness Protection," $10.2 million, $45.8 million, two weeks; 7. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," $7.7 million, $196 million, five weeks; 8. "Katy Perry: Part of Me," $7.1 million, weekend; $10.2 million, since opening July 5; 9. "Moonrise Kingdom," $4.6 million, $26.8 million, seven weeks; 10. "To Rome With Love," $3.5 million, $5.6 million, three weeks

Box Office, June 29: "Ted" opened at No. 1 with $54.4 million and "Magic Mike" opened at No. 2 with $39.1 million, moving "Brave" to No. 3, $34.1 million, $132 million, two weeks;

4. "Madea's Witness Protection," $25,4 million, opening; 5. 'Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," $11.8 million, $180 million, four weeks; 6. "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," $6 million, $29 million, two weeks; 7. "Moonrise Kingdom," $4.9 million, $18.5 million; six weeks; 8. "Prometheus," $4.9 million, $118 million, four weeks; 9 "Snow White and the Huntsman," $4.5 million, $146 million, five weeks; 10. "The Avengers," $4.4 million, $607 million, nine weeks

Unreel, July 13:

"Ice Age: Continental Drift," PG: Manny, Diego and Sid are off on another adventure after an iceberg splits off and drifts off. Ray Romano, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo are again heard from in the animated family adventure comedy.

This week's column is dedicated to TV star ("The Andy Griffith Show," "Matlock") and movie actor ("A Face in the Crowd," 1957) Andy Griffith, 86, who died July 3, and Oscar actor recipient ("Marty," 1955) Ernest Borgnine, 95, who died July 8. They didn't go Hollywood.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, where the movie reviews are archived. Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook.

Three Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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