When it comes to kids’ films, Brave is pretty good. When it comes to Pixar films, it doesn’t quite meet expectations.
The animation is nothing to complain about–it is the absolute beauty that we have come to know and respect from a Pixar film. However, except for Cars 2, Brave almost hits the bottom of my list of watch-worthy Pixar films. I was more than excited when it came out in theaters–Pixar’s first female lead is a fiery Scottish red head who wants to ride through the glen shooting arrows instead of getting married. The story is indeed what holds this film back, and I hardly felt it was worth 93 minutes of my time.
Perhaps my expectations got the better of me when it comes to Brave (and who can blame me with the song they chose for the trailer–see below). It starts out well enough, following a predictable yet charming and entertaining storyline that is very well in line with the trailer. Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald)has a long, unruly, incredibly red mane of hair that goes deep down into her soul. While her father is distracted by hunting bears and telling the story of how he lost his leg, her mother is preoccupied by making a lady out of her daughter, who is in fact a princess.
As is true in many royal situations, and other cultures besides, Merida is going to have an arranged marriage, although the method of choosing her suitor is rather barbaric and the candidates are bleak. They participate in games to win her hand–such as throwing heavy objects and other manly displays. Merida is furious with both of her parents, but most especially her mother. The two of them have a strained relationship, fueled by both who refuse to see the other’s point of view.
I won’t say much else about the story, else I should give away some major plot points, but it is the rest of the story that I was very disappointed with. There needed to be some way to solve the situation. If Merida lay down and accepted the marriage, she wouldn’t have become a Pixar leading lady. However, there needed to be some way to bridge the communication gap between herself and her mother, and frankly I found the results a lot more childish than most Pixar blockbusters.
There are a few twists and turns in the story that don’t lend much, and actually weigh down the plot, although I cannot embellish lest I give too much away. Therefore I will leave you with this: the animation, colors, and scenery are all beautiful. The music is fairly good, and although the men are all one dimensional, they were my favourite bits of the film.
If you enjoy Pixar, I would say that Brave is probably worth seeing at least once, but there are a lot more films on my list to watch before I would see this one again. Maybe I can satisfy my need for more Celtic culture in my life by listening to the song from the trailer (“Tha Mo Ghaol Air Aird A’ Chuain” by Julie Fowlis) over, and over, and over again.