Monday, January 14, 2013

The 2012 King of the Hill Finale

It has been a long road reaching this point.  I've reviewed and compared every movie of the year until knocking the best films of the year down to two movies.  In the end, two movies very similar movies were able to face each other to be crowned the 2012 King of the Hill Champion.  And I never would have predicted how similar the two movies would be, right down to the movie poster.

Comparing the two movies Brave and Hanna is like trying to rate the toppings of pizza from the same pizza joint.  I cannot begin to identify how great both the two movies are.  What sets them apart are the finer details and these get down entirely to personal taste.  Like the pizza analogy, both movie fits a different mood.  I'm not always in the mood for pepperoni; sometimes I want to have mushrooms.

Brave is a Pixar film aimed for a younger audience, but still with elements appropriate for adults.  Hanna is live-action film aimed for adults.  Both movies are great on my movie watching pallet.  The differences make them next to impossible to compare.  I've made several attempts to write this comparison and each time, I've scrapped my writing to start over.  When determining what I like in a movie, I look at the plot, the characters, and the visuals.  So, for this final showdown, this is how the two movies will be compared.

The plots between the two movies are not really comparable.  However, I can compare them based on the level of enjoyment into the plot.  Hanna is an action film that also tells an allegorical tale of the loss of innocence.  The plot was very well written and had me drawn into it from start to finish.  Brave is a children's action story about a girl's rejection of her parent's wishes and the bond between mother and daughter.  Between these two films, I feel that the better plot has to go towards Hanna, but only ever so slightly.  Brave story, while a good one is something you can find more commonly in other movies.  This was never more true then when I compared Brave and Whip It last week.  The mother/daughter story is one that is in lots of movies.  While it is refreshing to see this story told to a younger audience, it doesn't make the plot better than other movies of a similar nature.  In Hanna, the loss of innocence plot is allegorically present and leaves a common action film on the surface.  This plot makes it far more complex and worthy for the plot category.

Visually speaking, what makes Hanna strong is it's blending of the visual techniques with the plot itself.  And while this is all well and good, the visual on their own are nothing of super significance.  It has been over a year since I saw this film now and I can remember some of the visual tricks, but nothing outside of the tie in to the allegorical story.  And for that reason, these visual tricks are more related to the plot of which Hanna was already awarded the winner.  Pixar is famous for their visuals.  They have always gone out of their way to make the look of their films visually stunning.  This movie was no exception.  Everything in the film from the Will O' the Wisps to the stunning visuals within the castle are top notch.  There is absolutely nothing missing from Brave in this category.  For this reason, Brave wins.

I've saved characters for last.  If there is a winner to be found in this film, it is to be found in the main protagonists.  And this is, again, a tough call.  Merida is a strong, powerful female character of the same strength and age as Hanna.  So which one of them is the stronger character?  The answer lies in character growth.  Merida's growth comes from her making a giant mistake and having to go out of her way to resolve her error.  In doing so, she learns more about herself and her parents.  She grows significantly from this event.  Hanna, however, has her growth more subtly.  She is thrust into a world outside of her comfort zone.  She is forced into a situation in which she must depend on herself and learn to trust others.  That trust causes those people problems, which she must grip with the guilt.  And, ultimately, she must find her own strength to overcome the final step in her character.  While both movies contain a powerful character in them, the character of Hanna is more realistic with her subtle development and growth while Merida's growth is painted clearly on the screen.  While I will forever give Pixar credit for creating a character that parents can discuss with their child, I want my characters as real as possible.  Hanna has that defining trait.

Plot Winner:  Hanna
Visual Winner:  Brave
Character Winner: Hanna

2012 King of the Hill Champion:  Hanna

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