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Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell.; Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson

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Published: Fri 31 Aug 2012, 11:44 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:54 PM

Pixar is long overdue for a feature with a strong female character at its center. Now that she’s arrived, it’s clear that she deserves better. Set in the wilds of Scotland, this 13th Pixar feature is full of lush, green forests and dramatic, rolling hills, all of which look even more idyllic bathed in a delicate, mystical sunlight. Our heroine, the feisty and free-spirited Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), is an avid archer, leaping on her valiant steed and taking a thunderous ride through the countryside, expertly hitting her targets without missing a beat. She’s obviously a character with a mind of her own, one who has no apprehension about breaking the rules — which is why it’s such a shame that the film itself feels so old-fashioned and safe. The script, credited to co-directors Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman as well as Steve Purcell and Irene Mecchi, revisits some familiar Disney character types and themes: a princess in a long-ago kingdom who pays an ill-fated visit to a witch, a spell that changes everything and needs to be broken, and the misunderstandings and danger that ensue. Brave begins thrillingly but turns rather silly and slapsticky, as if it were aimed mainly at the little kids in the audience rather than the whole family. But the voice cast is strong, including Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson as Merida’s parents, the king and queen. PG for some scary action and rude humour. 93 minutes. — AP

DVD reviews: New releases and classics in stores

21 Jump Street (2012) (R)

The movie is about two high-school foes (played by Hill and Tatum), who meet again after seven years at a police academy. As underachieving police officers, they are packed off to 21 Jump Street, where they are assigned an undercover job to track down the supplier of a synthetic drug that has been killing teens. During their second stint at high school, they are complete opposites of what they used to be earlier — Hill becomes the cool guy, and Tatum, the nerd. What transpires is a series of comedy of errors, and in the end, of course, the bad guy gets nabbed and the underachieving cops become the heros. A fun, frothy film, it’s a perfect pick if you’re looking to watch something light. Watch out for a surprise cameo in the climax scene.

Duration: 109 minutes

Genre: Action/Comedy

What’s good: Humour, funny action sequences
What’s bad: It drags in parts

Cast: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco 

Rating: ΗΗΗΗΗ

The Woman in the Fifth (2011) (R)

Disgraced professor Tom Ricks arrives in Paris — to write a book and escape from past demons. As he struggles to survive in the city’s seamier quarters, he meets the enigmatic Margit at an expat gathering — who opens up a new world to him. As the two embark 
on a passionate affair, strange things start happening — allegations, accidents, murders — and Tom realises there is a direct connect between them and his association with Margit. It all goes into a tailspin when he realises that, maybe, Margit doesn’t even exist. Adapted from Douglas Kennedy’s best-selling novel.

Duration: 85 minutes

Genre: Thriller/Drama

What’s good: Gripping storyline... and Ethan Hawke turning in a virtuoso act

What’s bad: The ambiguous ending

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas, Joanna Kulig, Samir Guesmi, Julie Papillon

Rating: ΗΗΗΗΗ

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