MAHF Reviews: Brave
Okay, I didn’t see Hair… ah, I mean, Brave in theaters like a lot of people did. It just didn’t interest me. But, due to some nagging by my family, I checked it out of the library and watched it alone. And what did I think of it? It’s… okay. That was the general consensus on Brave, and I agree with it. The trailers barely showed anything, and we (the general film-going public) had no clue what to expect. What we got was a lot less than what we wanted.
Brave takes place in medieval Scotland (This is Pixar’s first period piece, by the way), and tells the story of a princess named Merida, who is strong and independent and is REALLY good with a bow! Unfortunately, her mother, Queen Elinor, doesn’t want her daughter to be any of those things, and just wants to marry her off to one of three suitors. Seeking to change her fate, Merida runs away and finds a cottage (which looks like a combination of Bag End and the cottage from Shrek), which is home to a wood carver/witch. The witch gives Merida a pastry that turns Elinor into a bear, and if her and Merida don’t reconcile in two days, she’ll stay a bear forever, both physically and mentally. There’s also the small matter of a monster who suffered the same curse, Mor’du, which is the coolest monster name ever, as well as some semi-memorable side characters like Merida’s father, Fergus, and three pint-sized triplets named Harris, Hubert, and Hamish. They are the best characters in the film, in my opinion. I’m not kidding.
So, what’s so good about this Oscar-nominated, Golden Globe-winning picture? For me, it mainly looks good. That, and some of the side characters, humor, and of course, the time period. Pixar pulls off medieval Scotland almost PERFECTLY. The scenery and patterns just look stunning, especially an incredibly memorable slow-mo shot of an arrow being fired. THAT was mind-blowing. In fact, the main reason I kept watching the movie was because it was such a visual treat. The side characters, particularly Fergus and the triplets, are often hilarious, especially the triplets, which have literally no lines at all. Much of the humor works, and the soundtrack is probably the best I’ve heard since The Hobbit, or dare I say it, even Tron: Legacy. I can’t stop listening to “The Games”.
Unfortunately, this does not make Brave perfect. The movie has a fair amount of flaws, particularly in the main characters: Merida and Elinor. Merida was constantly marketed as being Pixar’s Katniss Everdeen, an incredibly cool female character with a bow and a strong will. She, like much of the movie, was less than we expected. Granted, she does some cool stuff, but no more than any other Disney princess. I prefer Belle. And Elinor… oh, man, Elinor. Queen Elinor of Dunbroch is one of the least likable characters I’ve ever seen in animation. Development aside, it’s hard to forgive her for burning the thing her daughter most cherished, as well as forcing her to marry. She sort of redeems herself in the third act (which is very well done), but again, it’s hard to forgive. Also: the naked butts. Why, Pixar? Just, why?
- The time period is well-handled, and is given a lot of screentime
- Some of Pixar’s best animation to date
- Good humor (mostly)
- A lot of fun side characters that provide a lot of laughs
- A cool soundtrack
- Disappointing protagonist and deuteragonist.
- Occasionally crude and immature humor that really needs to be reviewed by the MPAA
- Panders too much to the little kids that make up Pixar’s main audience
So, with all the pros, and less cons, you might think that I downright loved this movie. I did not. I thought it could have been so much more. I don’t regret seeing it, but it’s not something that demands repeat viewing. It should be seen and appreciated for what it is, a period piece that isn’t much good except for the period. I give Brave a 6/10. It’s not as disappointing as, say, Up (which I liked, just not much), but it’s pretty mediocre all around. Unless you’re just looking at it.