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Reviews Comments: Let-Down Brave film/book review by Dr Psyche

This movie was a let down to me. That doesn't mean that this was the worst movie I've seen this year, no, that's the Lorax. Let's get to it. The good.
  • The Animation is very beautiful, even for Pixar. Lot's of mention has gone to the detailing of Merida's hair, and it shows. The water, the country, it all looks good. The Willow-wisps also look amazing.
  • Music: the Scottish music was very good, I love that Genre.
  • Not Giving Merida a love interest was a pretty fresh take (Is she a Lesbian? I honestly don't care.)
  • The Mother-daughter relationship was touching, and a very original direction for a Disney/Pixar movie.
The Bad.
  • The plot, that's where the movie failed. The trailers don't say what the plot is, there's princess who is dissatisfied with life, and an evil bear. The Princess dissatisfied with life has been done to death, and this movie, did not have the interesting spin to make the premise not groan worthy. It's very generic in that regard. The movie is billed as the first dark-fantasy of Pixar, and that's why I was so hyped up (So Hype Backlash, but it's not that big a deal in the long run). The movie did have some very scary scenes, but too many other scenes were played for slapstick, some was funny, some felt like padding.
  • I expected an epic, the trailers, the hype, it all told me Epic (Not necessarily dark, but broad). The movie itself was pretty contained, there was no really big journey (there was a journey, taken about 3 times), and the plot really ran on misconceptions, rather than tension.
    • The Climax ran on a big misconception, and I knew how it, and much of the plot would play out. The very fact that the climax was based on the misconception really took away most of the suspense, and when battle with the main villain came up, I almost screamed anti-climax in the crowded theater.
  • The supporting cast were all comprised of one note jokes. Any potential tension from conflict between the lords was lost on me as it would just end up as more slapstick.
  • Show don't tell. You'll know this when you see it. I'm not spoiling anything, but when the Lords talk about how they bonded, and the origin of the bear, they should have showed it, not explained it. The Four prince's story was only partially shown. This was one of my biggest complaints.
This is Pixar it could have been great, but it was very unsatisfying.


  • Munchable
  • 26th Jun 12
"This is Pixar! It could have been great, but it was very unsatisfying."

If Pixar had had the reputation it does now, everyone would have been saying the same things about A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. when they came out.
  • DrPsyche
  • 30th Aug 12
Bug's life and Monsters inc helped to create the company into what it is now. They've set the standard for success, and in my opinion Brave did not meet the quality that Pixar has since created for itself. The point that I'm trying to get across is that people say that if this film was made earlier, we would be less critical. Perhaps nowadays, I would dislike A bug's life, but Brave came out after the Monsters Inc. Film, After the Toy Story Trilogy, After UP, so the bar was set high, and to me Brave could not meet it.
  • PurpleDalek
  • 30th Aug 12
Pixar are victims of their own success. Expecting a masterpiece every time is unrealistic.

Brave wasn't their greatest film, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of its competition.
  • maninahat
  • 30th Aug 12
I think people are too hard on this film. Complaining about the plot in a Pixar movie is silly, seeing as how almost all Pixar movies prioritize characters over story, and never really depend on the plot to carry the movie anyway. Think about films like Toy Story, and Wall-e, and think about how much time is devoted to simply establishing the characters and their relationships - it often takes a good half hour of the movie or more, and they are the bits which people tend to like the most.

Most Pixar plots aren't spectacular, but they're hidden beneath the unique settings, beautiful cinematography, and colourful characters. The problem with Brave is that though it is pretty and unusual, the main character lets it down; we've seen the main character a little too often before. just think of how many movies feature fiercely independent, tough, young women who are defined by their desire to not be restrained by sexist traditions and arranged marriages. Off of the top of my head, I think of Rose from Titanic, Jasmine from Aladdin and Alice from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. This is tvtropes and you'll find a hundred more examples if you check. Sadly, without an original enough character to fill in the gaps of a typical Pixar tale, there isn't enough for the audience to go on, and the simplistic plot shows through the cracks.
  • maninahat
  • 30th Aug 12
Guh, damn this lack of edit buttons. I'd like to add that though I had an issue with the protagonist's character, the mother and her relationship with the princess is quite excellent - something we don't get to see that often. I had no idea what kind of story to expect (I didn't hear all the "dark fantasy epic" claims before I watched it), but waas delighted by it going down that route.
  • Scardoll
  • 30th Aug 12
If Pixar had had the reputation it does now, everyone would have been saying the same things about A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. when they came out.
Hey, I love Monsters Inc.! It's not the most ambitious Pixar movie, but John Goodman puts in a great performance as Sully, and the story, while basic, is pretty heartwarming.

Also, Brave, while not amazing, was still lightyears ahead of Cars 2, so it isn't the biggest disappointment Pixar has made in recent years. :P
  • DrPsyche
  • 5th Sep 12
@maninahat: Yeah, Lack of Edit buttons suck. On your argument about characters over story and Pixar using visuals and rich, I never thought of that, but yeah, that makes a lot of sense. In fact, most stories, stripped bare, are all done to death. Pixar doesn't change the story so much as it makes it interesting, characters and visuals as you say. And that Brave's main character brings it down. Also, I agree the mother daughter relationship was neat and fairly original (On the forums: How many Disney/Pixar Princess' have their parents still alive). Your comment was very insightful.

@Scardoll: I also liked Monsters Inc. I have not seen Cars 2 (so I can't compare it to Brave), but from what I heard it sounds pretty bad.

@Purple Dalek: I don't always expect a masterpiece from Pixar or Disney, Wall-e and UP were good films (not Masterpieces though), I just didn't like Brave. Pixar is a victim of it's success, I wholeheartedly agree, succeeding at something makes everyone expect you to succeed.

Thanks for commenting everyone. I really appreciate you guys telling me why you disagreed with my opinion instead of just condemning it. Thank you.
  • DrPsyche
  • 5th Sep 12
@maninahat: I re-edited my review to include the Mother-daughter plot, as, upon reflection, that was something to the movie's credit. Thanks for bringing it up.
  • Wryte
  • 27th Oct 12
I keep seeing people say the mother/daughter relationship was unique and original, and I can't disagree more. It's Freaky Friday set in medieval Scotland, only instead of developing the mother, they turn her into an animal sidekick who spends most of the movie awkwardly bumbling around for cheap comedy.
  • fenrisulfur
  • 27th Oct 12
I wouldn't call it Freaky Friday. I'd call it 39 steps with a bear. It's a nice bit of pathos, but then the odd humor just feels like a weird tone shift.
  • Desertopa
  • 29th Oct 12
I expressed some similar points in a couple of comments elsewhere on the web, which unfortunately don't fit this site's length restrictions for reviews.

Main points:

  • Rebellious Princess trying to get out of a marriage was much less creativity than I expected of Pixar's first female lead, even if she's not doing it for love of someone else.

  • Merrida has a sense of entitlement that's out of place in the setting (as a princess, she doesn't get to live as she pleases and marry who she wants, but nobody else in her society really does either,) and is willing to risk war between nations in order to live her life the way she wants to. Ultimately, she gets her way about everything, which subverts any sort of "mutual understanding" message in the movie.

  • The movie skirts around positive messages like "Some burdensome expectations and restrictions have good reasons for them and others don't, learn to focus on solving the right ones," or "Parents and children should try and understand each other and learn to cooperate and compromise, because they both have legitimate concerns which they're trying to address," but instead hits ones the writers probably wouldn't want to own up to, like "Kids, you should love and appreciate your parents, at least if you can work past their inclination to arbitrarily oppress you," or "you should be true to yourself and live the life you want, even if that lifestyle doesn't produce things of value to other people and pursuing it is likely to lead to disaster. It's other people's responsibility to accommodate you."

Brave had a lot of redeeming features, but in terms of message and story, I'd take Mulan over it any day.
  • Rebochan
  • 27th Nov 12
I have no idea how you came to those points in you third post, or how you see Merida as getting "everything she wants." She still has to get married eventually and the film forces her to lose her pride and accept this responsibility will be necessary. The system has changed to allow her a bit more freedom in who and when, but it's still going to have to be one of the same lads that vied for her hand in the first place for the sake of keeping peace within the clans (and one of them flat out tells her he'll try to woo her in case you're not understanding that she's still going to have to get married). The difference between Brave and Mulan, since you brought it up, is that the expectations held of Merida are presented as perfectly reasonable and Merida accepts that even when her Mom provides her a loophole to do it on her own terms. In Mulan, they're presented as arbitrary and all you need is some GIRL POWER to over come them. Mulan is never asked to accept responsibility for herself, Merida is.

While Merida did get what she wanted, it came at great cost and personal growth - she had to accept that she was too filled with pride over wanting the world to bend to her whims that she nearly destroyed her mother and her kingdom in the first place.

How you got the morals you presented in your third point, I'm baffled unless you deliberately tried to misinterpret the film simply because Merida didn't get forced into an arranged marriage at the end.

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