Sunday, July 01, 2012

my review of "Brave"

Last week I saw the new Pixar movie "Brave" and I wanted to write a quick review for people who might be interested in seeing it.

Two initial things that make this movie stand out from other Pixar films: first, it was the first time Pixar had a female main character/heroine/protagonist. Think about it...all Pixar movies have had male main characters (Toy Story, Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, Up, Ratatouille, Cars, etc).

The second thing to make it different was this was Pixar's first princess fairy tale story. Disney had done tons of those but not Pixar.

So without further ado, here is what I liked and didn't like about "Brave".


* The animation. Oh my goodness, it was gorgeous. The movie takes place in Scotland so it is green green GREEN. Rolling hills, forests, waterfalls, it's all a feast for your eyes. Then let's focus on Merida's amazing bright red hair. I read somewhere that it took Pixar artists 3 years to complete her hair. She has over a thousand curls that had to be in action for every shot. They did such a great job! Merida's wild curly hair totally represents her wild, fiesty personality. And the red hair contrasts so beautifully with the greenery of Scotland. And then there are these bright blue will-o'-the-wisps (or just "wisps" for short). In the movie, they show up and motion to Merida for her to follow them. I loved them. They never spoke, they just made humming sounds and beckoned. Here's a clip:

* The mother-daughter relationship. This is the foundation of the movie. Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson who in my mind is perfection, and along with Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren, can do no wrong) and Merida have a very strained relationship. All Merida wants to do is be free to ride her horse, practice her impressive archery skills, and have adventures. Her mother, however, is trying to groom her and train her for what is expected of a princess: manners, clothing, decorum, marriage, family, etc.

They obviously love each other but don't know how to communicate which causes frustration. I won't ruin what happens but I can say that throughout the movie, they finally find a way to understand each other. Their relationship is SO refreshing to me. If you look back on past Disney princesses, they don't have mothers. Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas. No mother figure. And go even further back to earlier princess films (ie. Snow White or Cinderella) and you don't have mothers, you have "wicked step-mothers". I think this is the first time Disney has ever explored a mother-daughter dynamic and made it front-and-center in a movie. As a female, I appreciated this, but I don't know if guys in the audience will as much.

* A different kind of princess. Finally! A story that doesn't revolve around a girl getting a guy. There is no romance in this movie which is new and unusual. Almost all Disney stories (especially their fairy tales) have some sort of love or romance angle to the story.  For previous princesses, it's almost as though their worth is in how beautiful they are and whether or not they can find a prince and be married by the end. Like I said, Merida is not feeling ready for romance in her life, even though her mother is telling her she should be. She would much rather climb mountains than marry a prince. Again, very refreshing.

* The humor. I was not expecting this movie to be so funny! I laughed a lot. Merida has three younger brothers - identical triplets - and they steal the show. They never say a word but they are so mischievous. I always laughed when they were on screen.


* The doofus male characters. The dad, King Fergus, was funny but an oaf. Three clan leaders come with their sons to present before Merida (she is supposed to marry one of them) and they are all oafs, too. They would rather say dumb stuff and fight with their swords. And then the Queen and Merida have to come in and be the smart, in-charge ones. I love strong female characters, but it would be nice if the male characters weren't always portrayed as bumbling idiots.

That's the only thing I didn't like. But I fully recommend this movie. I would recommend it for ages 9-90. You will enjoy the scenery, the story, the Scottish music, the characters, the humor, and the message.

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