Film Review: Brave: Too Much a Tale Type

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Brave tells the story of a wild-spirited Scottish princess, Merida, who does not want to marry when her mother tells her to.  In an attempt to get out of the marriage, she visits a witch, and she accidentally changes her mother into a bear.  She seeks to reverse the spell, and after getting to know and love her mother better in her changed-form, only tears and a confession of love and Merida’s wrongdoing cause the change.

Sound familiar?

Yeah, I thought so too.

And there’s really nothing new and original enough to justify to me retelling that story.  It was an enjoyable movie, yes, but really, the story itself was a little… flat….  It relied too heavily on a fairy tale type, and never really seemed to transcend the type to compare with the moving, original stories with which Pixar has before impressed me (Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., Up, Toy Story 3, The Incredibles).

Many elements, in fact, of this movie seemed too familiar.  Whenever the will-o-wisps appeared, I saw the little bobbley-headed tree spirits from Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (though I know the two spirits are not identical by any stretch and know too that will-o-wisps are traditional spirits and so come with their own rules, but there was something oddly similar I thought between the renderings of the spirits in the two films all the same), so they seemed unoriginal and not-so-magical because of that.  The scene in which Merida attempts to teach her mother to fish bear-style seemed to be a near-replica of a scene in Disney’s Brother Bear.

Brave probably suffers mostly because of my higher than average expectations of Pixar.  I’ve already listed a number of Pixar films I think are of a much higher quality.

Particularly, the characters in these stories seemed better rounded than the types in Brave, which included the reluctant princess, the king, the queen/the strict mother, the witch, the brothers, the nursemaid.  Few of these characters can be much described by me beyond this.  To me, only Merida and her mother had any real depth to them; most of the others are just fulfilling a role that needs to be filled for the plot to work and their characters were not explored enough to make them “real.”  Some like the nursemaid and the brothers are unnecessary and included purely for pleasure.  These two (or really four characters) are entertaining.  One could argue that they are perhaps the necessary comic relief in the tale, but the witch, necessary to the plot, also serves as a great deal of comic relief, being incredibly quirky and punning briefly on modern-day society (sales pitches and recorded phone messages).

Pixar does again demonstrate its keen ability to convey plot with speechless characters (the queen in bear-form, the brothers, and the nursemaid) and as ever creates a visually stunning piece.  Brave also boasts an incredible soundtrack, one I think I’m likely to purchase.

I know others will fight me on this review, but these are my honest opinions.

In sum, I liked it, but certainly didn’t love it and wasn’t overly impressed by the story.  I would watch it again, but not I think with the regularity of Tangled or How to Train Your Dragon.  I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to buy it.

***

Brave.  Dir. Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, & Steve Purcell.  Disney & Pixar.  2012.

This review is not endorsed by Disney, Pixar, Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell, anyone in the cast, or anyone involved in making this film.  It is an independent, honest review by a viewer.

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  1. Pingback: Challenge: Camp NaNo: Day 24: Imagine If I’d Brought My Charger | 550 Words or Less

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