So Pixar movie plus cool girl heroine should equal an awesome movie to me. It’s got the ingredients I like, but Brave just didn’t wow me. Perhaps my expectations were too high. I took my daughter to see it and she enjoyed it. She asked to go see it again and often mentions “the lady with the red hair”. That definitely counts for something. Especially since it’s somewhat of an anti-princess movie.
Merida, the main character, is not that enthused about maintaining tradition, doing what is expected of her, or the prospect of an arranged marriage. (Who would be?) Her Dad is a bit of a drunken buffoon and has moments of questionable lucidity, like when he gives her a bow and arrow as a small child. Her Mom is a stuck-up prude. I found the characters were not exactly lovable. The Dad’s buffoonery isn’t balanced with enough redeeming qualities or special moments, and the Mom seems so stuck in her ways and so completely unwilling to budge – that her eventual transformation seems unwarranted. It’s also not entirely clear what exactly triggered the drastic and sudden change in her personality (was it being a bear? I guess).
I didn’t like Merida either. I found her completely selfish (though of course this was the personality defect she had to overcome by the end of the movie). She poisons her mother and then as her mother is sick and writhing all over her bed and floor, Merida keeps pushing her own agenda oblivious to the terrifying consequences of her actions. Her character change comes on rather suddenly and to me at the wrong moment. She doesn’t show remorse until much later than I would have expected. Just saying, I poison my Mom, she turns into a wild animal, I would regret it immediately. So, in essence, I didn’t connect with any of the main characters.
The plot was also somewhat thin for me. Because they chose a female main character did it have to be about being a princess, arranged marriages and relationships with your mother? These seem like so-called girly themes to me, despite the anti-girly feeling of Merida and the movie in general. Substitute a male character in there with the same plot and it doesn’t seem like something anyone would go see. Here’s a prince. He doesn’t want to be a prince and fights with his Mom a lot. Then he poisons her. What I thought I’d see is a main female character who isn’t just out to prove she is her own person, defined by herself and not others, but she’s doing stuff, meeting odd characters or having an adventure all Alice in Wonderland-like or maybe being a hero all Katniss-like. Merida instead spent the movie mopping up the mess made by her poor choices.
When you compare it to the creativity of Pixar movies like Up or Finding Nemo, it just seems to be missing something. The family relationships and relationships between characters are not as touching or convincing. The adventure aspect is also not really there. Merida basically goes back and forth between her castle and the woods, and that’s about it. The journey is missing, and that’s something that the previews seemed to promise me along with an the emergence of an unexpected hero. I didn’t find her selfless enough to be heroic. The previews lied.
Ok, now it sounds like I didn’t enjoy this movie. I did. It was enjoyable and I’d watch it again and I’m glad it’s something a little different than usual, but overall it just didn’t meet my expectations.
What did you think of Brave?
Photo courtesy of ew.com