Last Friday, the first day Brave hit theaters, I was there, with my best friend in tow. We had both been really excited to see the movie, despite our age (but, really, who outgrows Disney?), and the fact that we were bound to be surrounded by 5-7 year old girls (and we were).
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Brave, the story of Merida, a Scottish princess who is stubborn, headstrong, and a skilled archer who loves riding her horse through the countryside, shooting arrows at targets hanging from the trees, is facing her arranged marriage to a Clan member, determined by athletic games. Merida wants to “Change her fate,” and, by the end, she does.
I was not only excited for Brave because the heroine, Merida, is by far the most feminist of the Disney Princesses thus far, but I was also intrigued with the setting (Medieval-ish Scotland) and the fact that this was not just a retelling of an already existing fairytale.
I HATE to say it, but Brave was not nearly as good as I had expected. In terms of the visuals, it was amazing. I want her hair. Seriously. It was fun to watch for the detailed visuals, but I found the story to. . . fall a bit flat, for Pixar, at least.
While I liked the set up of the story, the actual bulk of the film seemed to be rushed in Merida’s attempt to get to the resolution of the film. Additionally, one of the things I love about some of the more recent Disney Pixar films is the witty dialogue that appeals to the older audience of the movie (The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 3) and many others. However, Brave was sorely lacking in the dialogue department. There were some funny moments, dialogue-wise, but for the most part, the plot just didn’t allow for that kind of dialogue.
Also, I realize that this is a children’s movie, but the approach taken in Brave was just too plainly moralistic. The maturity that Disney and Pixar have been able to achieve in many of their other films just wasn’t there in this one. The arranged marriage aspect of the film is glossed over, and not taken seriously at all. Merida is presented as selfish and immature for fighting her mother on her marriage to whatever Clan member wins her hand in the “games.”
So, that said, here is what I liked:
Kudos to Pixar for Merida’s three younger brothers. I loved them. It wasn’t until the end that I realized that none of the little boys (maybe two, three years old?) had said anything, for the whole movie, yet they added so much humor and also helped Merida forward the plot. Their expressions, mannerisms and general shenanigans were much more valuable than some of the actual spoken dialogue. Those boys were one of my favorite parts of the film.
I also liked that Merida comes up with a solution to the matter of her marriage that is not only a politically responsible compromise, but that shows a maturity and depth that the rest of the movie lacks. I really liked the fact that Merida was able to assert herself in a way that didn’t end in violence or (possible spoiler) in marriage, and was able to write her own destiny.
All in all, while I think it could have been better, there were still parts that I liked. For it’s target audience, i.e. kids under ten, I think it’s good, for us older folks, not so much. While still worth seeing, I am pinning my hopes for a really great heroine and female lead on a future Disney/ Pixar collaboration.