Nobody seems particularly excited by the idea of a sequel to Cars, which many people believe to be Pixar’s weakest film. Personally I like Cars, or at least I like the philosophy behind Cars, despite the fact that cars themselves, that is to say the big metal things people drive around in, bore me rigid. The Buddhist-for-kids message of the film struck a chord with me, and I personally found the ending rather satisfying. However I, like so many, have no interest in Cars 2, primarily because the first one seemed to have a very definite ending, and the film certainly doesn’t have the franchise potential of Toy Story.
So why exactly is there a Cars 2? Well the sequel actually seems inevitable when you remember that Disney made over five billion dollars off of the Cars merchandise, far more than the DVD sales of the film. As a matter of fact Up, the story of a grumpy old man’s coming of age, caused Pixar’s stock to go down before it’s release, as investors didn’t understand the point of a children’s film that didn’t have an abundance of marketable merchandise.
All is not lost however, sure Pixar have plans for a couple more sequels, not least Monsters University, but that’s not to say they aren’t still making highly imaginative and original children’s films. Brave is scheduled for a June release in 2012 and looks to be as wonderfully refreshing as Up was.
The synopsis of the film goes like this:
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.
The role of Merida will be played by the wonderful Kelly Macdonald, while other characters will be played by the likes of Billy Conolly, Julia Walters, Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane, so a very fine cast indeed.
Brave is the first Pixar film to be based on fairy tale lore, and it certainly seems to be embracing that identity wholeheartedly. It’s also the first Pixar film to have a female in the lead role, and promises to be a bit darker, and more intense, than previous titles the animation studio has produced. Given that Pixar has managed to be very dark indeed, the end of Toy Story 3, for example, started to resemble the work of Hieronymus Bosch, I’m very much looking forward to Brave, and wonder if the title of this movie doesn’t represent the studio’s ethos when it comes to making children’s films.
It’s always been my belief that Pixar have generally continued the tradition of classic children’s stories that treat children with respect, and encourage them to keep up, unlike more reductive films that think that children are stupid. Pixar has rarely stumbled, and when they do I think they have to be forgiven, considering the sheer volume of beautiful and inspiring work they’ve made, which continues to push the boundaries of children’s animation.