Parallel Tuesdays

Are You Brave Enough? – A Not Quite Review of Pixar’s Brave

*What follows is not exactly a review, just my take on Disney-Pixar’s Brave. It may or may not contain spoilers (depends on your definition of spoiler, really).*

Brave is the story of Merida, a princess who prefers riding, exploring and archery to her “proper” duties and her mother, who wants her daughter to grow into a great queen and carry on the ancient traditions of the land. The two cannot see eye to eye and it sparks a conflict that could tear the kingdom apart.

This film is gorgeous. I have to get that out of the way because it’s really the best feature of the movie. Merida’s wild, red hair is astounding. The views of Scotland from high pinnacles of rock to dark, magical forest will blow you away.

Indeed, there was much to love about this movie but…(and I’m probably the only one in my family that has any bones to pick) it didn’t draw me in like Nemo or Up. I think I might have been on the verge of getting misty at one or two points but I wasn’t on the edge of my seat. I didn’t  feel the depth and the layers I hoped for.

There were possibilities. Oh, the possibilities. The elements of Merida’s story and the ancient conflict that almost destroyed the land before could have been woven into a spectacular tapestry. The mending of the rift between Merida and her mother could have mirrored the mending of the ancient rift (Mor’du’s story) between the clans. The movie almost went there…but not quite.

Then there’s the portrayal of men as oafs, brutes, or bumblers. Even Merida’s father falls into the lovable but bumbling brute category. I would have liked to see a more balanced portrayal of the sexes. Certainly that could be done without a romance angle. Merida didn’t need a Prince Charming but it would have been nice to see a formidable male character (unless you count Mor’du, the demon bear).

Which leads me to my other bone to pick…where exactly was the Villain? Yes, Mor’du was a scary villan but he never felt like The Villain.

But…all of this may just be a matter of personal preference. There are those who loved the film for what it was. Being a Pixar film, it had a wow factor that’s hard to top. There were themes at work that aren’t often seen with a “Princess” movie, the mother – daughter dynamic, selfishness versus self-sacrifice, what is good for society versus what is good for the individual, etc. A strong heroine coupled with the lack of a romance angle was a big plus. But did it all add up to something magic…I’m not sure.

What do you think? Did Brave touch your heart or was it missing something? What do you think of Pixar’s first female protagonist? What do you think the message of the film was and did it come across well?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Image via Wikipedia (fair use)
Image via (fair use)

13 thoughts on “Are You Brave Enough? – A Not Quite Review of Pixar’s Brave

  1. I didn’t see this movie but my 10-year-old son had been asking for weeks to see it so he went with his dad and loved it. He really liked the bears and thought a lot of it was funny, so I guess it was a hit as far as he’s concerned.

  2. I loved it, but I see where you’re coming from. What it brought up for me mostly was the fact that everyone seems virtually incapable of creating a female hero who captures male audiences. Some of the reviews I read (from prominent critics, no less) were so blatantly sexist that I wanted to throw something. I think that the film didn’t live up to its full potential, but it left me wishing I’d had Merida when I was a child, and for that I love it.

    1. …and by hero I mean well-rounded, complex character. Hollywood seems to think women like that can’t stand on their own so they have to dumb down the men around them (like you mentioned). The vast majority of the time, it seems that filmmakers play it too safe and either create the two-dimensional Lara Crofts of the world or fall into classic tropes.

      I’m bummed by the reviews I saw and even more so for the subtext they carry — that they think women can’t be standout characters and that women are stupid for wanting to make their own choices.

      1. Yeah, I think that’s what frustrated me too. Merida and Elinor can’t be strong unless the men are all goofs? Oh well, eventually they’ll get it right…we hope. Or we’ll have to help. 😉

  3. As a red head who has taken archery, I really want to see this film, but to see any picture on the big screen, it has to rock. Translation: I’ll go see Raven on the big screen, but much as I adore Pixar, Brave will have to wait.

    Thanks, Sonia.

  4. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this movie, Sonia. My 21-year-old daughter has talked about seeing it, and I think she was hoping it would be reminiscent of her favorite Disney movie, Mulan.

    I’ve noticed the recent portrayal of men as bumbling oafs, not only in movies but also in tv commercials. They’re offensive. I hadn’t made the connection, though, that they were trying to make the females appear smarter by dumbing down the males. That’s even worse.

    I have yet to see the movie, but look forward to seeing it soon.

    1. That really drives me nuts…along with dumbing down parents in films and commercials.

      I kinda feel guilty about putting people off Brave though. It might just be my point of view. LOL

  5. My review said pretty much exactly the same thing – visually stunning but still missing the ‘it’ factor. I have to say though that after seeing Ice Age 4 the following weekend suddenly Brave seemed a whole lot better 🙂

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