Movie Review: Brave

Merida

Between The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Game of Thrones, and now Brave… 2012 may go down in history as the year of the archer… which is perfectly fine by me.  Brave, Pixar’s latest and thirteenth feature film, is a fantastic tale that, contrary to many peoples original complaints, upends the classic Disney princess story.

I, like many people, have a soft spot for anything Pixar releases… because of this excellence in their craft, the expectations are always a bit higher than for any other studio, and certainly higher than any other animation studio.  I find this horribly unfair and it means they must always outdo whatever it is they have previously released.  After giving the world some of the more transcendent moments on film, how could they possibly live up to that standard.  Upon it’s initial release, there were a few complaints about Brave as well… usually summed up as, “another Disney princess movie” or “not as emotionally riveting as some of their past work”.  I will counter by saying that no, it is not “just” another Disney princess movie, and although it may not have the emotional punch of the first 15 minutes of Up or the final scene of Monsters Inc., it did produce a tear in the 11th. hour making it more akin to a Wes Anderson tale than a Pixar film… which again… is alright with me.

Where it upends the Disney princess trope is that this is a story about a princess who does not give a fig about the princes vying for her hand and would rather determine her own fate.  Merida, voiced by the lovely Kelly Macdonald, is about to be married off to one of three princes in order to fulfill tradition and keep the peace between the four major clans in this era of Scottish history.  Her parents, Fergus (Billy Connelly [of course]) and Elinor (Emma Thompson) are setting up a competition for her hand… although Fergus is obviously more understanding of his tom-boy of a daughter, Elinor won’t have anything get in the way of the aforementioned “tradition”.

What Brave does, which I can’t recall any other animated film getting into, is delve into a mother/daughter relationship… which is what sets Brave apart from all other princess stories.  Not only does she not wish to marry, it is the mother that becomes the catalyst for the story to unfold. 

Actually… I believe I will stop this review here.  You now have all the information you need to know what this story is about.  In the end, lessons are learned and yes, a tear was shed (by me at least).  although many of the reviews for this were middling at best, I found it to be a fantastic story and a gorgeous film… yes, that is one expectation Pixar has never disappointed with, their movies are always as beautiful as could be, and Brave is no exception.

I did see this film the day it was released and I must apologize for the tardiness of this review (and at least one other… coming soon).  I’ve been busy and frankly, I’ve been enjoying summer… hopefully all of you are as well.  Although I was the one to take my daughter (both of my girls saw it earlier in the day so my younger didn’t want to see it again… my 9 year old leaped at the chance to see the same movie on the same day… I’m so proud), I would recommend every mother with a daughter to go and take them out to see Brave… you will both come out better for it in the end.

A bear… a bear… all covered in hair,
Cornelius J. Blahg

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