3D is probably here to stay, but let’s hope it’s not. Fortunately the 3D referred to in the title raises an issue not about viewing quality or preference but about a different kind of extra dimension. Considering that 2012 was the year when Pixar brought out their latest effort, Brave, telling the story of unhappy future-monarch Merida, as well as Nolan’s concluding part of his Dark Knight trilogy, it appears that now is as good a time as any to talk about both.
We’re unfortunately at the point where Pixar have gone from releasing surprise hits to becoming genuinely adored, but is there only one way to go from here? Chris Nolan brought out Memento, The Prestige, Inception etc. and received much praise for them, but he too is at the stage of his career where each film is more eagerly-anticipated than the last, and as a result – as with Pixar – pundits become expectant, and are resultantly cynical and hyper-critical. Though I actively encourage treating each film based upon its own merits rather than reputation, there is an increasing trend that encourages hostility for hostility’s sake in reviews.
Here I’d like to put forward the idea that Pixar and Nolan add something extra to their films – an unexpected additional dimension – which for the most part isn’t found in other children’s films (Studio Ghibli being the main exception) or superhero films, hence the focus on Brave and Nolan’s Gotham trilogy.
Despite competition from Joss Whedon’s Avengers and Sam Mendes’ newly re-modelled Bond in Skyfall (owing much to Bourne and much to Nolan’s Batman films), this something deeper at work is what enables it to stand out as something more, and what sets it apart from imitations (particularly Avengers Assemble in my view). Whilst TDKR was generally very well received upon release, Brave on the other hand received fairly lukewarm-at-best reviews from critics (particularly for a Pixar film), with audiences enjoying it a little more (RottenTomatoes: 78%, IMDB: 7.3, Metacritic: 69).
Whilst Brave wasn’t Pixar’s finest work, it remains harshly treated by over-expectant and under-appreciative critics, many of whom bracketed it as merely a ‘typical modern Disney film’ (ouch). But to do so with such flippancy ignores not only the superb depth in the animation itself (which gives the background setting of the film a stunning touch), but ignores the following too: the subject matter is concerned with particularly female issues of knowing one’s place and not questioning it, and so to have a strong, identifiable female character question these seemingly set-in-stone traditions is undoubtedly of value, particularly given the target audience.