Rated – PG
Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell
In Brave, we get another strong female lead character trying to defy all odds when adversity stares her down. That’s been quite the theme this year with movies such as The Hunger Games and Snow White and the Huntsman, but here we’re presented with Pixar’s point of view of a princess story. This is monumental for the studio since all of its previous films starred male lead characters, but the end result gives off a strange vibe from Disney instead of Pixar’s consistency to keep pushing the envelope.
In traditional princess story-telling, Merida is a young girl who has expectations to act proper, marry a prince, etc. But the tomboy, bow and arrow wielding red head just wants to be heard from her strict mother. This is where the heart of the story lies, with Merida’s father and her three younger brothers serving as the comic relief throughout.
Brave uses the “be careful what you wish for” message and runs with it as Merida visits a witch, who in turn concocts a potion to “change” her mother. But when this changes her to a bear, Merida immediately regrets her decision and does everything she can to protect her mother from the hunters, including her own father. The real suspense comes in the second half of the film when Merida and her mother only have a limited amount of time to reverse the spell before she permanently becomes a bear.
While the film is visually incredible, everything else is uneven, from the plot down to the characters and their development. There are heart-felt moments, especially towards the end of the movie between Merida and her mother, but other than that there aren’t many emotional aspects during Brave. Also, I understand that the three brothers are supposed to serve up some laughs, but they were hardly funny. Even the King’s jokes were off-key and had me questioning if anyone actually laughed.
Following up the disappointment of Cars 2, Brave is a Pixar film that disappoints in another way. For years, Pixar has provided true family entertainment with animations that kids and adults could enjoy equally. Brave doesn’t contain material sufficient enough to keep the adults engaged, and oddly enough this film is arguably the scariest Pixar production to date (I did see the film in Dolby ATMOS, which gave a much louder and clearer sound, but the bears’ roar resulted in a theater of crying children).
Brave felt too much like a Disney film with its princess stories and its medieval setting. It’s a feel-good movie that rarely takes any risks, which directly contradicts its title. This is a Disney formula, not a Pixar one. Is it possible that Pixar’s bar is higher than other studios’, resulting in critics to be harsher than they should. I believe so, but that’s better than being surprised by a decent film when you expect nothing from it. But simply put, I hope their upcoming films resemble more WALL-E and Ratatouille and less Brave.