Bit by bit, information is being released regarding next summer's new Pixar film, Brave. I am super excited by everything that is coming to light. Here is the official synopsis.
Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Merida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus and Queen Elinor. An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Merida one day defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to set things right, Merida seeks out an eccentric old Wise Woman and is granted an ill-fated wish. Also figuring into Merida’s quest — and serving as comic relief — are the kingdom’s three lords: the enormous Lord MacGuffin, the surly Lord Macintosh, and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall.
So, what we have here is a Pixar princess movie, which makes me do a dance of happiness every time I think about it! Plus, check out the spectacular teaser poster. Stunning, innit?
As I did with the Disney animated classics in the Disney Project, I am watching every Pixar film in chronological order. It took me a long time to come around to what Pixar was doing. I love classic hand-drawn animation and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the Pixar party. These were not the movies of my childhood, and so any appreciation I gained for them had to be earned on their merits as a film watched by an adult unclouded by childhood memories. Monsters Inc. got me hooked, and I've been a big supporter ever since.
The only lapse, in my mind, in their amazing track record is Cars, which was the last film I watched for the Project. I will blog both the Pixar and Disney Projects and go into more detail on my thoughts on the films, but for now suffice it to say, "Bah." I didn't get it. The storytelling lacked, the characters didn't land, the animation looked great, but for what? I felt watching Cars like most little boys feel like watching a typical girly movie. I was antsy, anxious, easily distracted, and, sad to say it, bored.
This summer's Pixar slot is to be filled with Cars 2. Womp. I know that Pixar has proven itself to be able to do great sequels with Toy Story 2 & Toy Story 3, but there's nothing about the first Cars that made me want another movie in the series. It made me want one less. For those of you non-mathematicians, like me, I'm saying I'd rather not have even had the first one. I am pleased as punch about Monsters University, the upcoming prequel to Monsters Inc. That's a story I would love to see expanded. Suffice it to say that this summer is a wash as far as Pixar is concerned.
This leaves me looking forward to Brave next summer. I'm already all twitterpated over it, though only the tiniest bit of info is available. It was originally conceived and directed by Brenda Chapman, who is the first woman to direct an animated movie at a major studio (Prince of Egypt, which I didn't love, but Tom does) and was to be the first female director for Pixar. Lately, she has stepped down from control, passing the reigns to Mark Andrews, who was story supervisor on The Incredibles, which is an astounding movie.
The film is being touted as a story in the Grimm fairy tale tradition, with dark and adult overtones. Knowing Pixar, it won't go too far in that direction, which is a good thing, but I'm excited to see them continue to push the boundaries of what their creative minds can do and what the audiences will come to see. All of their best films do just that. They have also brought on a non-starry but very strong vocal cast including Kelly MacDonald from Boardwalk Empire, Julie Walters and Emma Thompson.
Plus, for the first time in a Pixar film, the central leading character is a lady. And a princess, no less. Considering that this is the studio that has changed the way that I look at toys, fish, super heroes, robots, and monsters, I have no doubt that they are going to have a completely original take on what a "princess movie" can be. The concept art that has been released is really stellar. Look at her! She looks like she is ready to kick some butt and take some names!
Disney had a bit of a princess renaissance with The Princess and the Frog and Tangled. Both were well-reviewed and popular and both introduced a new princess into the canon. Both retained the magic of traditional storytelling while making the films speak to modern audiences. Unfortunately, after releasing two gorgeously animated, beautifully written and acted princess films, there is not another one on the horizon.
It's in Pixar's hands now to uphold the genre. I have so many questions. Will Princess Merida be able to be a full-fledged Disney Princess? What will set her apart from the other ladies? How will Pixar shake up what Disney has of late done a pretty great job of shaking up itself? How will a female-driven storyline change the dynamic of a Pixar film? How will the change of directors affect the final outcome? How successful will Pixar be at a story that, in truth, seems more suited to Disney animation?
We'll have to wait until next summer to get some answers, but I, for one, fully expect Pixar to be right on target with this one.