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Excellent! Really dont get the hate
Unlike, Im guesing, a lot of people, I saw Brave without expectations, having seen the trailer once or twice. I was pleasantly suprised by a warm, emotionally complex film. Merida is entertaining, all characters are grounded in real emotions and there are no hammy villians with nonsense motives. In fact, there are no true villians, only people that made eveything worse by not explaining themselves properly.

I read a lot of reviews calling Merida's badassery into question. Maybe it doesn't seem badass because Merida is a realistic brave girl, not a superhero, and that in this universe, royal actions really have royal consequences for all the kingdom, and that means almost starting a war of succesion, something Ariel never had to face after she ran off with a guy she'd known for 3 days. If The Little Mermaid were remade by Pixar, they would actually explore a bit what it actually means to pull Ariel's stunt and think of the implications. Merida IS a princess but in real terms; she has to be queen and actually rule a kingdom, and that means politics and taking the long view. That's the lesson Merida has to learn when she realises she's being selfish. But her mom also learns to listen and to explain herself, not just impose her will, nillywilly. Mom hadn't explained the politics behind her decitions, only sewing and good manners. That's not good enough for a future queen.

I know a lot of reviewers expected epic battles, but I think "Braves" shows that brute force only takes you so far. Being aware of consequences and thinking 3 steps ahead is a better lesson to learn, but not as showy as fancy batttles. I know its a heavy lesson in an amimated movies, but still. Humans don't kill dragons, but they do navigate through an emotionally complex world, and that's more dangerous than a dragon and requires a different kind of bravery. Its not as simple as crying "independent woman with a bow, fuck yeah!" and calling it a day. I think people expected more escapism from Pixar, but their real bread and butter have always been complex relationships, only they are dressed up as superheroes and fish.

Needless to say, I think this is my favorite Pixar movie. The real fault might be marketing, because stading alone, its belongs up there with er, 'Up' and 'Toy Story 3'.

PS "Cars" still sucks.

Good review. I agree for the most part, but I liked "Cars". "Cars 2" on the other hand...
comment #15066 Historian1912 24th Jun 12
Very well said, agreed 100%. And to support your point about why the movie isn't about epic battles: the big misunderstanding in the movie, about the bear being Elinor, almost leads to her being killed by her own husband, all in the name of violence being the automatic answer. The whole scene with the lords where Merida calms them down and maintains peace by reminding them of when they were there for each other is all about showing them they are stronger together, defending each other, spreading peace throughout the land instead of war. And the big problem with Elinor is her constantly slipping into the violent bear personality, one which she must resist lest she lose herself entirely. In the end she's forced to become violent to protect Merida...and the result is her losing herself; if it hadn't been for Merida's genuine contrition and love, Elinor would have stayed a mindless bear the rest of her life. And of course let's not forget the prince who started it all by becoming Mor'du first divided the kingdom into war because he tried to claim what he wanted by violence, and then he wanted to have "the strength of ten men" to help him carry out more violence—which he got all right, by killing his whole family and destroying the kingdom. A powerful lesson, and Brave teaches it well—Anviliciously at times, but well.
comment #15107 Ingonyama 28th Jun 12
The problem isn't just that the plot isn't what we expected, though, it's that the plot we did get is one we've already seen a hundred times. There's no shortage of "mom wants daughter to do something she doesn't want to leading to a fight, unusual circumstances force them to bond, they realize they really love each other after all" stories out there, and Brave just didn't add enough to the mix to make the story its own.

It's Freaky Friday set in medieval Scotland, but the mom turns into an animal sidekick instead of switching bodies with her daughter. It's not bad, it's just disappointing that it wasn't more original.
comment #15147 Wryte 2nd Jul 12
I was fine with your review, but then you ended it with a childish Take That at another Pixar film. Not called for.
comment #15150 ManwiththePlan 2nd Jul 12
"The problem isn't just that the plot isn't what we expected, though, it's that the plot we did get is one we've already seen a hundred times. There's no shortage of "mom wants daughter to do something she doesn't want to leading to a fight, unusual circumstances force them to bond, they realize they really love each other after all" stories out there, and Brave just didn't add enough to the mix to make the story its own.

It's Freaky Friday set in medieval Scotland, but the mom turns into an animal sidekick instead of switching bodies with her daughter. It's not bad, it's just disappointing that it wasn't more original."

Just because something doesn't have an original plot doesn't make it bad. It's not about whether you use cliches, it's how you use them. Clearly the movie didn't do so effectively for you, but I thought it was less the fact the movie was yet another mother-daughter bonding film, but the nature of their bond, what their characters were like, how it was all presented and how it plays out. I can't recall offhand many examples where the mother and daughter become closer because the mother literally saves her daughter's life in a deadly fight. The movie could have delved more into their relationship, into how they grew and changed, if they had allowed more time in the plot and a longer running time. But what they did show was emotional and effective, in my opinion.

As for it having appeared a hundred times before: if it's not broken, don't fix it. And personally I think we could all use more reminders of why family is important and why we need to be there for each other, instead of just the same wild epic action movies.
comment #15159 Ingonyama 3rd Jul 12
"I can't recall offhand many examples where the mother and daughter become closer because the mother literally saves her daughter's life in a deadly fight. "

I appreciate your point about the mother/daughter bonding, but didn't it bother anybody that after Merida was hyped up to be this strong, independent Action Girl, the climax of the film still involves her needing to be rescued from the "villain". Getting rescued by your mom is a step up from getting rescued by a prince, but even so...
comment #15184 StarryEyed 4th Jul 12
But that's discounting the number of times Merida came through for her mother - including raising a sword against her own father and king. I think the greater underlying theme in respect to who saves whom is that a family comes through for one another; from Fergus literally putting himself between Mor'du and his family to the triplets doing their bit without charge during the climax. Even the other clans (in as much as the four clans making a figurative family akin to the four brothers of the old legend) did not hesitate in rallying to Fergus' call for vengeance when he thought the bear killed Elinor.
comment #15186 peasant 5th Jul 12
@Ingonyama: I didn't say it was bad. In fact, you quoted me saying it wasn't bad. I didn't dislike this movie, I was just disappointed that the plot wasn't more original. Yes, family bonds are a good moral, and a mother and daughter story is nothing to shy away from, it's just that Brave really didn't add enough to the template to make the story its own.

The most creative change was making the mother a bear, and I think that actually hurt the story more than it helped because it reduced the mother to an animal sidekick. Yes, she still has her own character, but since she can't talk we never really learn anything more about her. Like, what was she like when she was Merida's age? We got a brief mention that she had her own doubts about marrying Merida's father, but that's never expanded upon. This lack of second act development of the queen's character also hurts the climax because there's no unique bond between Merida and the queen, only the fact that they're mother and daughter. They haven't bonded because they've realized they're not so different, or because they finally understand each other. They bond because they... caught fish together?

Yes, there are some elements there. The scene where Merida uses her mother's story to avert a war and the queen lets her out of the marriage tradition shows that they've reached a compromise and at least some understanding, but there was no real build up to it. It seems like the queen just spontaneously changed her mind because the plot said so.

Actually, now that I type this, I think that's my real issue with the movie. It's not as much that the plot was generic, it's that the relationship between the mother and daughter, the centerpiece of the movie, just never developed enough for me. I didn't really feel the reconciliation. I didn't feel the regret. Even when Merida was crying that everything was her fault, for some reason it still didn't feel like she was taking responsibility.

In the end, the relationship between the mother and daughter is what needs to carry the story in this kind of plot, and Brave never really got there for me.
comment #15201 Wryte 5th Jul 12
@ Starry Eyed: Point, but I think Peasant answered it for you. To come at it another way, though: yes, Merida did end up needing to be saved by her mother, but before that she not only stood up to her own father and the other lords, but she fought Mor'du herself—and even when her arrows had no effect she still kept fighting. While it would have been awesome to see Merida kill him, or at least have more of a part in the denouement (say, it being her who realized they could topple the stone on him), at least she tried to fight, and kept doing so up until the rescue. Much better than just being a complete Distressed Damsel. There's no shame in trying but failing at something, it doesn't necessarily abrogate your skills or strength.

@ Wryte: I agree that the movie could have been longer and should have shown more of Merida and Elinor's relationship, particularly how and why Elinor changed—the implication seems to be that it's seeing how independent, skilled, and strong she is as a fighter and woodsgirl that makes her realize the path Merida wants to follow has value and can be embraced instead of the traditional one she had planned for her, with some shocked understanding of how much she was hurting her if she was willing to get a spell from a witch to change her fate. But there could have been more. That said, though, we'll have to agree to disagree on the rest because I really did feel the strength of their bond and that they were a set of great characters with a wonderful relationship.
comment #15401 Ingonyama 16th Jul 12
I agree in that it didn't need epic battles, but that is not the problem. The movie remains flat, the story, though more complex than that of monsters or nemo, is less satisfying, less special, and again, just plain flatter.

I enjoyed some individual parts throughout, but once it was over, I just felt.. meh... It wasn't a memorable experience like most pixar films had been, it wasn't an awe inspiring one like most of their movies (I was even more impressed at SOME parts in Cars 2), it wasn't deeply meaningful (Up, wall-e, ratatouille), it wasn't masterly paced (finding nemo, toy story, monsters inc, ratatouille), it wasn't even as emotional as any of their other movies (except perhaps, cars 2 and bug's life which could be considered less emotional). It didn't even make the effort to pay much attention to story details (similar to the last part of cars).

It is not a bad movie, I don't know if it is the worst in the pixar canon, but for now i do feel it my least favorite. I compare it to a decent, not great Dreamworks or Disney computer animated. With this, I am not saying that the cars movies are huge masterpieces, but I enjoyed them more than Brave and I find more in each of those that can I appreciate and respect.
comment #15512 AlexR7 24th Jul 12
Yes she is saved by her mother... that at the moment is a FREAKING HUGE BEAR... and from what? a BIGGER MEANER BEAR. You know, you can be as baddass as you want but sometimes THERE ARE limits to what you can manage... and Merida is still PLENTY baddass.
comment #16393 Bahamuttone 6th Oct 12
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