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First things first: I found the faces in Brave incredibly creepy. Especially Merda's. And this is really the first time the faces in an animated feature have bothered me like this. Sorry, that's an entirely subjective thing, but I just wanted to get that out there.

Anyways, on with the review.

Brave is not the dark, epic fantasy that pixar tried to pass it off as. Yeah, it is a fantasy, but the fantasy aspects are very underplayed when they could have been great. The underplaying of the fantasy also hurts the epic part of it. And dark? Sure, the palet choices for the film were often pointlessly gloomy. (Note: don't watch it in 3d. The glasses darken an already dark looking film.) Still, the actual plot of the movie isn't really that grim at all. So yeah, it's not a dark epic fantasy. it's a mother daughter bonding flick.

But, y'know, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. If anyone could make that work it's Pixar, they're pretty good with character driven stuff like that. But... they don't make it work. And don't get me wrong, there is some good stuff in the film. Unfortunately, it is all contained in a bland, vague shell that just stinks of them not caring.

And you know what? I think that's the problem. When they were conceptualizing Brave they were conceptualizing it as "a film with a female protagonist." Not how they should have conceptualized it, as y'know, "a good film." It was really important that it had a female protagonist! That was the main focus of the film! So, of course, when developing the film the reached for stereotypical female plots and the film fell into all these formulaic clichés based around the fact that the PROTAGONIST was FEMALE!

Because they cared more about the protagonist being female than the film being good.

So the result just feels...

Empty.
It's funny, because I had the exact opposite impression. Merida makes mistakes...and rectifies them; in the end, she has proven her independence, been accepted for who and what she is, and taught her mother about why she should listen to her and that traditions shouldn't always be followed; but she also grows up, accepts responsibility, and makes up for her selfishness. The aesop is a bit Anvilicious at times, but the relationship between her and Elinor seemed quite genuine and affecting to me. Far from being empty, it felt full of heart. The only complaint I could really make was that it was too short, without enough time spent dwelling on the relationships and emphasis upon the action instead of the situation. But for what was there, it felt really emotional and awesome to me. Your Mileage May Vary, I guess.
comment #15034 Ingonyama 22nd Jun 12
I thought the movie was focused less on the fact that the protagonist is female, and more on its actual themes: learning to think of others (which means allowing people to forge their own path through life), while also accepting responsibility for your actions.
comment #15035 MJTrooper 22nd Jun 12
I wish I could read one review where that doesn't freak out about the protagonist being *gasp* a girl.
comment #16725 theodrixx 31st Oct 12
I saw the movie Ark (looks like the Final Fantasy movies), and the Polar Express, they had weirder faces to me, but, as you say, it is subjective. Now, The Dark Adventure thing really bothered me, it isn't a dark Epic Adventure, they shouldn't have promoted it as such, it was a comedic mother-daughter flick, the trailers played that up more, and I think it should have been solicited as such. The advertising should be held against it, but it should be judged on what it is, and I have mixed feelings about what it is. Also, I rarely watch movies in 3d, it gives me a head ache, sometimes, but the films always get darker, and I don't like that, especially with a film with dark night scenes, like Brave. Plot-wise, I don't think it was a plot centered around the Character being female, though that is a big part of the plot, Frankly we could debate the originality of the plot all day. All in all the review gets your points across, but I feel you can elaborate on the Movie only being about a protagonist who was female.
comment #16743 DrPsyche 2nd Nov 12
You know, you clearly know nothing about this film if you think the entire movie was simply "a film conceptualized with a female protagonist." Have you read ANYTHING about this film's development?

Brenda Chapman wrote the story intending to tell a story that was a metaphor for her own turbulent relationship with her teenage daughter.

Oh darn, I guess that means she must have planned to have a female protagonist! No WONDER it's so empty! Man, this NEVER happens when we write films about DUDES!
comment #16859 Rebochan 15th Nov 12
Well, I read a lot about the film's development and above all, I read what Brenda Chapman said about her movie later on. And frankly, I want to punch her in the face for congratulating herself that she created the supposedly kick-ass Disney princess who doesn't marry at the end of the movie, the Disney princess who finally got away from the princess in pretty dresses cliché. Which is the biggest BS ever. 1. She is confusing the line-up with the actual princess movies. 2. Mulan and Rapunzel are both ten times more kick-ass than Merida - AND have a way better character development. 3. It's not really a big deal to not have a love interest when the only men in your universe are buffoons...and the first princess who decided against marriage (despite being in love) was Pocahontas. I think the reviewer hit the nail on the head. The makers were so invested to make the "better" female protagonist that they forgot to simply tell a good story. And in the end, they took a big step back. Merida is pretty much like the "I want" princesses of the 90s...which were okay for the 90s, but we are now in the 2010. We should be above writing characters as "female" by now and instead just write them as characters. Tangled for example is the way more feminist movie, simply because it features a protagonist whose gender is absolutely secondary during the whole movie. Same with Wreck-it-Ralph, btw. Venellope could be a boy, it wouldn't make any difference for the plot. Why is it that Disney gets that but Pixar starts to stumble the moment it elevates a female character from being the sidekick, despite having tons of great female characters in secondary roles in other movies? I guess they are simply trying to hard.
comment #19942 swanpride 26th Jun 13
I really don't see what the female bit has to do with this movie sucking. There are bombs and poorly written films all over the place, it feels uncomfortable for me to see that people are blaming the film's meh factor on there being a female protagonist. I'll say for the film, it's an ehhhn; I wasn't in love with it but I don't think it was horrible, just dull.

There's definitely a some good in there that I think Swanpride is overlooking; that she didn't marry at the end was nice. They didn't feel the need to have some prince charming waiting in the bushes ready to spring out, that's a rarity in films, particularly Disney ones. Sure, the guys are buffoons but the message is that you can wait to find someone you like, rather it being a major part of the plot. It has a nice relationship that isn't often developed in stories; mother and daughter is the central relationship here and I'll ask either of you to name another film built on that specific relationship.

Past that? Yeah, it's okay. But I don't see why the fact that these other qualities are in there should condemn it. It could have been done a lot better but there's a long long list of films that I could say the same thing for. Why should this one be blamed for making it about a girl? I mean how do you know it wouldn't be a flop regardless? I don't think that this angle is what made it a flop, I think the same team could have gotten greenlighted for a generic fantasy film, made the same mistakes and failed in the same way.

If you're annoyed by how much publicity it is getting, it might prove that there's a general lack of good films about women and so even a mediocre one gets a lot of love. And I don't think you should fault the film for this, but rather the industry, since even if the creators failed on this one at least they are one of the few groups making the effort to bring out films like this.
comment #19973 Fauxlosophe 28th Jun 13
you feminazis need to chill (and this is coming from a fellow female) . . . the reviewer's point is not that s/he was bothered by the fact that the protagonist was female, but that the selling point and central focus of the movie seemed to be simply OUR PROTAGONIST IS FEMALE. It's sort of like Avatar, where the plot and character development are scrapped for the sake of beating the audience in the head with an eco-friendly message. I think that was the issue with Brave; they were so obsessed with making this super cool, rock 'em sock 'em, suffragette type female character that they turned Merida into a crude, bland caricature and forgot about the plot and supporting characters along the way. It doesn't matter *what* the character is if his/her development, as well as the plot's, isn't executed well.
comment #20103 MariaElaineLovelace 8th Jul 13
"Feminazi"? Really? Really?

Brave's main problem was the tired Freaky Friday plot and that one of the two focal characters was reduced to a non-verbal Animal Sidekick for most of the movie. The only reason Merida being female factors into it is for the additional cliche factor of an Action Girl and The Chick being forced to bond being the standard plot for any time two female characters need to carry a plot without resorting to a Love Triangle. The problem isn't that Merida was female or that her being female was a selling point of the advertising, it's that the plot was totally unoriginal.

Even then, it could have been a better movie, except that it then took away the other half of the relationship's ability to speak, and thereby robbed itself of the ability to develop the relationship and explore their issues with each other in anything but slapstick comedy and the most generic strokes of "family: good."

Merida herself was great. They nailed the characterization of kids and especially girls at her age, and she was a lot of fun to watch. In fact, the characters are this movie's strongest feature, and I'd love to watch another movie about them (one caveat: the little brothers didn't do anything for me. I know a low of people loved them, I didn't. The father was one thousand percent awesome, though). Brave's failings fall squarely on an unoriginal and poorly-executed plot, not the gender of its protagonist.
comment #20109 Wryte 8th Jul 13
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