My husband reluctantly went with me to a screening of Brave, the latest Disney/Pixar film. Ironically, he was the one who actually enjoyed it much more than I did.
In Brave, a skilled Scottish princess and archer named Merida from long ago defies an age-old custom amongst the Clans, causing chaos in her kingdom. After consulting an elderly wise woman for help, her family becomes cursed and Merida is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late.
We did both marvel at the incredible animation, as well as the beautiful scenery of the Scottish kingdom. The 3D effects were incredible and added much to the enjoyment of the movie.
I do not recommend this cartoon for small children. There was violence and the bears scared me. I definitely prefer witches over bears. There was some comedic moments dispersed throughout and I enjoyed hearing the older children’s laughter.
When Merida comes of age and the four Scottish clans gathered at the castle for a presentation of the suitors, I couldn’t help wonder if this was worse than online dating. Certainly Merida had fewer choices on offer than in today’s internet age.
This film was not as formulistic as other Disney films. I kept waiting for Merida’s Prince Charming to arrive but this film depicts the independent woman confronting her choices and fate. Merida does however need to battle and overcome a number of obstacles in order to achieve her goals. The film also effectively explores the complex mother/daughter relationship between the queen and the princess and doing what is expected vs. what one wants to do.
Although the main character is a princess, the action, setting and plot seemed almost better suited to dads and their sons than mothers and daughters. Merida is a tomboy princess who prefers archery, swordplay and riding horses in the wild to the the traditional vocations of a Middle Ages princess. Some may find this refreshing but it is certainly different from other stories on offer from the folks at Disney.
Peter Debruge of Variety gave a positive review of the film, remarking that the film “offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren’t so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair.” Debruge also said that “Adding a female director [Brenda Chapman] to its creative boys’ club, the studio [Pixar] has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo. I certainly can see Debruge’s point but personally found myself harking for the more traditional Disney fare of the past.
Brave opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, June 22, 2012.
running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes