Brave is the latest entry from the critically acclaimed film studio Pixar. For years they’ve been the only studio to be able to consistently provide quality entertainment. This unfortunately changed somewhat last year when they released Cars 2. It received a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, less than half of Pixar’s usual score. It was however a big hit with the kids and made an incredible amount of money from a merchandising perspective. While I think that Cars 2 is not as bad as some people make it out to be, it was still a very clear misstep for the animation giant.
Fortunately, Brave is not such a disappointment. It makes some missteps to be sure, and it isn’t a masterpiece in the same manner that Up! and Wall-E were, but its still a very enjoyable film with lots of heart and clear effort put behind it. It feels more like a great Disney film than a great Pixar film, however, which I think has led to many of the issues some of the critics had with this film. All agree however that the film is a visual delight and is certainly Pixar’s most beautiful film yet.
For me this film is The Little Mermaid done correctly; blasphemous I know that I should denounce the film that started the Disney Renaissance, but let me explain. To me Ariel was just too idiotic of a protagonist for me to care for her significantly. She sells her soul for a man she has never even met, and sells it to someone who very clearly doesn’t play fair at all (not to mention her lair looks like its pulled straight from the 5th circle of hell). In the end she gets what she wants and has seemingly learned basically nothing from her mistake, which led to putting the entire kingdom at stake. The only character who seemingly grows from this is Ariel’s father, and he does learn from his mistakes, but this is largely not followed upon throughout the film.
Brave does this aspect perfectly though. It knew within that same formula that the more interesting aspect of the film is the relationship between the daughter and their overbearing parent. Merida is basically forced by her mother into marrying one of three men, who could best be described as an incoherent ox, a brainless sheep, and a cocky goat respectively. Merida seeks to change her fate, and thus she forces an actual friendly witch into giving her a spell that can change her mother’s mind. Unlike Ariel, Merida sees that she’s made a big mistake almost immediately, and seeks to right the wrongs she is responsible for. Both Merida and her mother grow greatly as characters until in the end they finally have common ground.
This film would be most emotionally resonating with mothers and daughters, especially if they have had a tumultuous relationship in the past. It doesn’t say whether the mother or daughter is right, since their both wrong in many ways and are both too stubborn to see it, at least until the curse sets in. I think mothers and daughters will like that point in particular. Generally it’s a great film for the whole family to enjoy. Skip the 3-D though since its distracting from the visuals.
3 out of 4 stars