Movie Review: Pixar's 'Brave' Is Fun and Entertaining, but not the Studio's Best
I had the great fortune of stumbling upon Fandango's Friday 2 for 1 Visa Signature movie ticket deal, and the first thing I did was buy 2 tickets to the highly anticipated Pixar movie, "Brave". For months, the trailers have piqued my interest with the spirited female protagonist, Merida, shown traipsing through beautiful Scottish landscapes. I've been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to FINALLY see a Pixar movie with a powerful female lead character. I came away from the experience happy and entertained, but as other critics have stated, the movie falls short of Pixar's previous emotionally powerful offerings (i.e. "Toy Story 3", "Finding Nemo", "Up").
The fiery Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a firstborn princess of Scotland who is expected to be prim, proper, and above all, perfect in preparation for her future marriage to one of the eldest sons of the three other clans in her kingdom. Much to her mother (voiced by Emma Thompson), Queen Elinor's frustration, she prefers riding horses through the forest, polishing her archery skills with difficult, self-devised challenges, and rolling in the muck over taking endless speech, etiquette, and history lessons. Above all, the story is about the ties between a mother who wants the best for her daughter, and a daughter who wants only to be in control of her own fate.
As the 3 clans, according to tradition, expect an answer to the question of who is to be Merida's future husband, she decides to take matters into her own hands, much to her mother's chagrin. Events unfold in a manner far different from her expectations, and various hijinks with a bear soon follow. Merida must use all of her wits and skill to save her kingdom while learning a valuable lesson in the process.
I probably shouldn't read other reviews prior to watching movies. I went into the theater with some reluctance because so many critics gave "Brave" surprisingly negative reviews. Fortunately, I left with a smile on my face and a warm feeling deep in my belly. Parent-child relationship movies have a tendency to tug at my heartstrings, and "Brave" is no exception.
I enjoyed Merida's outspoken and tomboyish qualities and the fact that, for once, we meet a strong female protagonist who doesn't just want to spend her story falling in love with a prince. She is plucky, interesting, and realistically flawed. Teenagers will relate well to her intense desire to break free of expectation and control her own life.
Most of the other characters exist primarily for comic relief, especially her 3 ridiculously bratty brothers and quirky moments with a bear, but it works. I love that there is plenty of room for laughter for both adults and children alike. Some might complain that the adult jokes will not be understood by children while other humor is over-the-top in it childishness, but personally, I enjoyed it all. Reality is too difficult for me not to sit back and embrace silliness when its offered beautifully on a large silver screen!
The animation, naturally, is beautiful and dynamic, as expected of a Pixar film. The forest outside of Merida's home is magical and eerie, and the characters flow effortlessly across the screen. Even Merida's hair seems to have a life of its own! I also absolutely LOVE the accompanying music. Composed by Patrick Doyle, it is influenced heavily by traditional Scottish music, including many Scottish instruments and rhythms. The vocal numbers were also hauntingly beautiful and fit perfectly with the overall atmosphere of the movie.
The plot is not nearly as deep as some of Pixar's other films, including the successful and endearing "Toy Story 3". There is no single truly evil villain Merida must overcome. There is no epic conflict she must travel millions of miles to face, except perhaps the one within her own heart. But that's okay. "Brave" works as a movie meant to remind us of the value of people in our lives we so often take for granted. "Brave" entertains. "Brave" teaches us above all to be brave within our own souls.
- Plot: 3/5
- Characters: 4/5
- Animation: 5/5
- Music: 5/5
- Overall: 4.25/5
Would I recommend this movie to a friend? Yes, absolutely.
What age group would I recommend this movie for? 7 and up (The movie has a scene with bare butts and some scary moments).
While "Brave" isn't my favorite Pixar movie of all time, it is very refreshing to finally see a female Pixar lead character who falls far from the usual pretty mold of Disney princesses. Perhaps all those other critics didn't like "Brave" because it didn't match the exceedingly high quality of other Pixar films, but that doesn't mean "Brave" isn't a good movie. It's a high-spirited, funny, and entertaining film, and I would watch it again in a heartbeat. I would love to continue seeing more strong female leads in future Pixar films.