I'm sure this has been discussed at length, but I realized something disturbing about Brave and my reaction to it.
The core of my problem with Brave has always been "it's more like something from the central Disney machine than a Pixar movie". Wreck-It Ralph felt more like Pixar than Brave did.
But last night I realized that Brave is the first Pixar movie to center on women. (This analysis is very reductive and doesn't take into account the strength or weakness of the subordinate characters)
- The Toy Story movies are about Woody and Buzz's relationship with each other and Andy. The sequels put more and more focus on the ensemble, but it's still Woody and Buzz's show.
- A Bug's Life is about Flik and the circus bugs. Princess Atta is mainly Flik's love interest. There are two women in the troupe, of whom one is a wife and the other is a surrogate mother.
- Monsters Inc concerns Sully, Mike, Randall, and a Macguffin Girl who's just learning to talk.
- Finding Nemo is about a father, a son, and the comic relief female sidekick
- The Incredibles is a pretty balanced ensemble film, but at its core is the conflict between Mr. Incredible and Syndrome
- Cars is Lightning MacQueen's story, Cars 2 has an even tighter focus on Mater.
- The only female character I can think of in Ratatouille is Linguine's love interest. And his dead mother Renata.
- Wall-E has EVE as love interest.
- Off the top of my head, the only female characters Up has are Walter's dead wife and I think the bird is female. The bird doesn't count as a female because it acts like an animal, and as beautiful as the prologue is, it's still Women in Refrigerators.
Geez, the last non-sequel before Brave is Up? Curse you, Disney, for raising the value of my stock without having any new ideas!
So anyway, at first I was worried the reason I didn't like Brave was based on the fact that the Pixar ideal I was holding it to was male-centered. But then I remembered that I've recently been quite refreshed by female perspectives. Verity is my favorite Doctor Who podcast that's just discussion, and my favorite, Oodcast, wouldn't be nearly as charming without Laura Sigma's contribution. There were other examples once, but I can't recall them now. Also, before I saw Brave, I was excited by the idea of a female-centered story.
So now, if it has anything to do with gender, I think it might be Brenda Chapman's firing. Putting man in charge of a story about women sounds like the formula for all the classic Disney Princess movies, which is essentially what this felt like.