Welcome to DisneyExaminer’s Summer Movie Madness - a compliation of movie reviews to be your guide of all the new Disney movies coming out this summer!
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We’re excited to bring back this column this year as Disney is set to release another round of exciting new films this summer! From a super hero team like no other to a princess trying to be brave for whatever life holds for her, this summer will have no short of exciting and magical films.
That being the case, we wanted to give you reviews on these films to help you gauge what to see or what not to see. You’ll notice that we aren’t too specific on the details of the actual movie…and that’s on purpose! We encourage ALL of you to watch the movie yourselves and judge accordingly. Our only goal through these reviews is to get you thinking!
We’re honest. We love Disney. We love movies.
DisneyExaminer’s 2012 Movie Madness is your guide to the movie magic happening this summer!
— A very special thanks to Walt Disney Studios for allowing us to preview the following movies in order for us to give a guiding hand to our readers and ultimately all Disney fans who are anxious to see their releases this summer!
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- Rating - PG for some scary action and crude humor (no profanity)
- Runtime - 100 minutes
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.
Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.
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If there is one thing that is synonymous with the name Pixar, it has to be great storytelling.
Just like its parent company Disney, Pixar has always made its way and climbed to the top due to the fact that they tell great stories. The animation in unique in itself, but it does not always win awards or audience acclaim.
I remember when I saw “a Bug’s Life” for the first time in my house in Norwalk. I was a kid then, but the mere fact that bugs were telling a great story grabbed me and I played the VHS tape over and over again. Even at a young age, Pixar’s engaging and relatable storytelling grabbed me and I’m sure for many of you as well.
That being said, I was let down by their second to last film. ‘Cars 2’ had a story, but it wasn’t as “deep” as the other Pixar films we’ve seen before. It was purely action based. The story wasn’t there.
With ‘Brave,’ we returned to the deep storytelling that Pixar is known for.
With that in mind, I present to you, dear reader, my review of the film. Just like all my other film reviews, I do not aim to spoil or even judge a film to its extreme so that YOU can watch the film and judge it for yourselves. My only aim in any review is to get you thinking and possibly get you to watch, so here’s to that!
So grab your haggis and let’s get started.
1) I loved the story!
If it wasn’t clear enough in my introduction, here it is again.
The story in any film is CRITICAL to any film’s success. You can have great animation, 3D/HD blah blah blah, and not have a great film.
In ‘Brave,’ you’ll find that the animation compliments the story.
You’ll find that the characters in their dialogue and animated actions tell the story.
You’ll find that the music supports the setting of the story.
Everything in this film pointed to the story and that’s the way it should be.
So what’s the story about? I won’t tell you. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it comes down to these elements -
a) Making poor decisions (or in the story’s case of breaking tradition) has its problems
b) There are consquences and dangers that come out of making changes or bad decisions.
c) The trials that soon come after making those bad decisions make you stronger.
d) The outcome of such trials leads to happier times.
e) It is possible to change your fate.
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’ve seen these story elements in other movies in the past, and you’re absolutely right! During the press conference that we attended for the film, Producer Katherine Sarafian and Director Mark Andrews brought up a good point when getting attacked by another reporter about the use of these “used” elements.
They told us and the rest of the media that there is no such thing as a “new story.” And I’d have to agree. Where each movie differs is HOW they tell these stories. I’ll leave it at that, but find that that is a very valid point.
Although the plot revolves around breaking Scottish tradition, it’s something that is explicity spelled out, so don’t worry about that.
The story can get frightening at times with bears and witches, but bringing your little ones is at your discretion. We recommend that you bring them if they are maturing…just like Merida in the film.
Before I end this section, there is something I must say about story element “e”. That statement is why the film is called ‘Brave’. The very last dialogue in the movie said by Kelly Macdonald’s character Merida, who is the main and first female protagonist in a Pixar film, was that people can change their fate - you just have to be “brave enough to see our fate which lies within us.”
I am a Christian and one thing that I believe in is the complete sovereignty of God, the One who created all things and now rules over His creation and has a plan for His creation as well. Now that being said, I don’t believe in fate.
What I got from the film in that mindset was a little different, but something that I could relate to. Some things I got that you, too, can consider were -
a) Yes, there are consquences for bad decisions.
b) The trials we encounter are there to build us up.
c) Reconciliation makes all things better.
I must remind all of you that I don’t discredit the story the film makers were telling. I just disagree on that specific element and in no way did it hinder me from enjoying the film.
2) I loved the humor!
Each each Pixar movie, I loved that it got me laughing.
‘Brave’ got me and Mike laughing pretty hard at times, but it was all for the sake of story. It wasn’t just placed there randomly for comic relief. Laughter is like salt or any other seasoning on food - it makes it better.
3) I loved the soundtrack!
If the Scottish Highland setting and thick Scottish accents couldn’t get you, the soundtrack will.
Composed by Oscar-nominated composer Patrick Doyle (who is Scottish), the film’s soundtrack screams Scottish culture, not to mention that the music is perfectly fit to the story as well.
The soundtrack utilizes a variety of native Scottish instruments like bagpipes, solo fiddle, Celtic harps, flutes, and even a bodhran.
We were able to listen to the soundtrack prior to watching the film and it gave us the opportunity to immerse ourself in the Scottish culture and the ‘Brave’ story.
While listening to the soundtrack, we would have to say our favorite songs had to be the first three songs on the album, which are -
- “Touch the Sky,” performed by Julie Fowlis
- “Into the Open Air,” performed by Julie Fowlis
- “Learn Me Right,” performed by Birdy [with Mumford & Sons]
The lyrics hint at the story and the music and melodies tell of Scotland that music only could.
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The Final Verdict -
I can honestly say that Pixar has rebounded with this film. Just like how the story revolves around the roots of the film makers, the overall film returned Pixar to its roots, which ultimately is the root of their success.
The great storytelling that ‘Brave’ gives is something that you should keep in mind. Even if you’re not Scottish or have never been to Scotland before, you’ll appreciate the culture and maybe even laugh at the accents, but it’s all in good fun.
Although some may disagree with the story element wording or concepts, many can relate to the various stories played our by Merida and the other characters. I must say that even though interpretations of the story are different, the whole story is very universal and one that you will fully enjoy.
Get ready to cry toward the end (Mike and I did).
Also, don’t forget the Pixar Short that preceeds the film called “La Luna.” Find out how the moon really gets its shapes.
Lastly, be sure to say after the credits. You’ll want to know where all those wood carvings went.
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We hope you enjoyed our ‘Brave’ review! Be sure to also check out our coverage of the ‘Brave’ Press Conference we attended with the cast and crew which can be found HERE.
Also, we’ll be giving away a copy of the ‘Brave’ Soundtrack! Be sure to check our Facebook Page on Friday, June 22 for your chance to get your Scottish jig on!
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- Rating - PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference (no profane language)
- Runtime - 142 minutes
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Marvel Studios presents “Marvel’s The Avengers”—the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow.
When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.
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Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston, with Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson, and written and directed by Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Prepare yourself for an exciting event movie, packed with action and spectacular special effects, when “Marvel’s The Avengers” assemble in summer 2012.
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It began in 2008. I first watched the first “Iron Man” movie back then. I was first introduced to Agent Coulson and in the post-credits his boss Director Nick Fury of Shield.
Also in 2008, I was introduced to Dr. Bruce Banner and his “other guy” the Incredible Hulk.
In 2010, Iron Man made a return and brought along Black Widow and Hawkeye to fight evil.
2011 brought two more - Thor and Captain America.
And in 2012, the superhero team-up of a lifetime came together.
After tracing back the little cookie crumbs that MARVEL put in each one of their movies since 2008, I can see why this particular film got everything right.
To be quite honest, I had no idea nor did I take interest in any MARVEL comics, nor did I see the correlation of those cookie crumb Nick Fury segments to this culmination of superhero giants. Going into see the media screening for The Avengers got me thinking though. I wanted to know and wanted to get the context of where this movie was to take place.
I ended up not seeing anything to get me all hyped up or in the “mood” to see this film - no trailers, no re-watches of the previous MARVEL films. I wanted to be surprised and I left there with that surprise and then some.
Folks, I won’t hide it anymore - this movie was super; more super than superhero and here’s why (without spoilers):
1) I loved the action
After all this is an action film, right? Right.
This film had all that action. You had a superhero fighting evil super-other-guy and even superhero against superhero! You had explosions and building destruction, epic stunts, and much more.
The action genere has always been the same, but this film brings a lot more to the table. What really made the film going and not just action-packed scene after action-packed scene as most action films tend to be like is the fact that each action-packed scene had a purpose.
That purpose was clearly given (or could be perceived) as part of the second thing I loved about this film…
2) I loved the story!
I wasn’t kidding when I opened up this review with the sad reality that I had no idea who Nick Fury was or what S.H.I.E.L.D. was or how all these films were to be joined together to create this one big story.
It wasn’t until the D23 Expo in 2011 did I really notice that these films had a common story line that was to be finally revealed in “The Avengers.” I was quite surprised and it all started to come together shortly after.
I appreciate the fact that this was the case for me because I appreciated those cookie crumbs of story that MARVEL put in each of the accompanying superhero films leading up to the Avengers. It was a mystery to me (and I’m sure for most people) but found that it was a great move by MARVEL and any great storyteller for that matter to slowly connect a story together and have the audience anticipate what is to come. It’s worth mentioning that Disney now owns the MARVEL universe, so storytelling is something that I’ll look forward to in the upcoming MARVEL films.
I know with any good story in a film, a lot of people are always concerned, especially in a continuation of a story like this one, if they need to know all the characters and story elements to get the film.
For this film, I would say no. As I said, I really had no strong connection to the characters or the story, but I enjoyed the movie all the way through and it kept me wanting more with every twist and often sudden turns throughout! If you really want to get more of an appreciation of MARVEL’s awesome story, take some time to re-watch all the films prior to watching “The Avengers” (Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America). You’ll know why two of the Avengers fight each other and how the characters interact with each other because of their different agendas and personalities. It’ll all click for you and…
You’ll reap the benefits.
Now I understand that every story needs breathing room. You get that here with one unlikely element in an action movie and it’s the third reason why I loved this film.
3) I loved the comedy!
WAHT! <— My attempt at comedy.
What kind of action movie has comedy in it? Well a great one, duh.
Really, folks! I thought the same thing about action films - that they ought to just be non-stop BANG, BANG, BOOOOM the whole way through.
This film proved me wrong. The comedy, particularly the one-liners made by Iron Man or a “smashing” performance by the Hulk. Sure, the comedy gave the action a break at times, but after seeing it in the context of an action film, I find it really refreshing. You’ll have time to breathe…or not because you’ll be laughing very hard at times. Really. Not “ha-ha” but HAHAHAHAHA.
This type of comedy is not crude at all. It’s mostly one-liners that give knee-slappers and six-pack abs.
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The Final Verdict -
I left the theater saying “Wow!” all the way out the theaters doors, back into our car, down the I-5 going south, when I left the car to enter my house, when I entered my room, and when I eventually went to bed.
This type of movie has never been done before. Pulling together an ensemble of different personalities with different stories and seemingly put it together is one huge accomplishment that MARVEL and director Joss Whedon deserve much applause.
That applause was given during our media screening where all the media let loose their praise for the film through unending laughs and claps. I’ve never been in a theater where the whole audience really openly showed how much they enjoyed the film. No one cared what others would think. We just clapped and laughed as an “assembled” mass of reviewers wanting more.
This was a “Wow!” movie and what made it a “Wow!” movie was those three things I loved - the action, the story, and the comedy. What I find is that a whole lot of films nowadays only have pieces of of these elements in them. There has never been a movie, let alone an action flick, to really gather these elements together, but “The Avengers” did and it worked. It got me saying “Wow!”
Action, Story, and Comedy. Three movie elements “assembled” together.
7 distinct humans. An “assembled” group of superheros.
Whether you like or don’t like superhero movies or MARVEL comics, I encourage you to not let all that stop you from watching this film.
It’s time for you all to assemble your moviegoing friends and family to watch what is very likely to be the very best superhero movie of all time.
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P.S. - I also suggest that you all wait in the your comfy theater seat after the credits. You might just find another cookie crumb.
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All reviews are made by Jordan Poblete, Editor-in-chief of DisneyExaminer.com. All reviews are personal opinions and may not reflect the attitudes of other writers for DisneyExaminer.com unless stated otherwise.
These films have been screened prior to the release date for review purposes and therefore are viewed without charge by The Walt Disney Studios.