Reviews Comments: Good, not Great

Good, not Great
First off, this film was visually delightful. The panoramas of mythic Highlands, atmospheric forest scenes, and above all Merida's fiery corona of hair are breathtaking to watch.

Unfortunately, I watch films for the story, not the eye candy. And unlike Pixar predecessors "Finding Nemo" and "Up", the story of "Brave" never lives up to its stunning visuals. The story centers around Merida, a princess in the rebellious tradition. The film's portrayal of Merida isn't quite sure what it wants to be, or maybe it wants to be too many things at the same time. Is she a butt-kicking Action Girl? A strong female standing up to sexist tradition? A misunderstood teenager? A spoiled brat in need of some growing up? As Pixar's first female protagonist, there's a lot of pressure, but in trying to be all things to all people, it comes across rather forced. For example, Merida is an excellent archer (and a fearless horsewoman)...but in the crucial action sequences her archery has little effect, and she ends up needing to be rescued (although not by a prince). In the conflict between her and her mother, the strait-laced Queen Elinor, Merida raises some points that are hard to argue with from a modern pov—she doesn't want to wear dresses so tight she can't breathe or marry a man she hasn't met—but she goes about it in such a immature way that I sympathized with her harassed mother instead. Some of her actions are so selfish and short-sighted that I cringed in my seat. True, she grows throughout the film, but there was not enough time spent on HOW she grew. Queen Elinor, likewise, has to go through a transformation (in more ways than one), but the onscreen development didn't seem to match the amount of change she goes through.

While the story is more a mother-daughter bonding piece than the epic adventure promised by trailers, it still suffers from a lack of driving plot. Storylines enter, meander a bit, and then languish until they are patched back in for the resolution. The characters are decently interesting, but much less three-dimensional than Pixar's usual fare. The jokes are surprisingly crude for Disney/Pixar and lack the cleverness I would expect from the latter.

Overall, "Brave" is a good film, that many companies could be proud of. Just not Pixar. I don't expect good from Pixar; I expect great. And this film just wasn't it.


"Overall, "Brave" is a good film, that many companies could be proud of. Just not Pixar. I don't expect good from Pixar; I expect great. And this film just wasn't it."

So many critics have been saying this. And if Pixar had had the reputation it does now, everyone would have ben saying the same thing after A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. came out.

comment #15086 Munchable 26th Jun 12
First off, Monsters Inc. is an incredible movie (definitely better than Brave) and had some very groundbreaking effects (Sully's hair and the snowball scene) for its time. Second, Pixar was a younger company at the time. It's not reasonable to expect a company to be at its best from the beginning. It is entirely reasonable to expect it to get better, or at least maintain the same quality level, not get worse (And while Brave isn't that much worse or even close to THE worst, it *is* worse).

To look at it a different way: would it be reasonable for people to have complained if Princess and the Frog and Tangled weren't as good as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast? I think so. Saying, "Snow White and Sleeping Beauty weren't that good either" doesn't excuse it.
comment #15089 StarryEyed 26th Jun 12
But everyone is comparing Brave negatively to past Pixar movies.

My point is that some of those past Pixar movies would be reviewed as being only good and not compared to Pixar's past movies, if they were released now.
comment #15131 Munchable 1st Jul 12
Yes, Monsters, Inc. is good, but if it came out now after every other Pixar movie except for Brave and A Bug's Life, people would say it was good, but couldn't compare to the Pixar movies of the past.

If A Bug's Life came out after that, they would officially mourn Pixar.

And saying "Snow White and Sleeping Beauty weren't that good either" would excuse it if The Princess and the Frog and Rapunzel were being compared to Snow White and Sleeping Beauty rather than The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
comment #15133 Munchable 1st Jul 12
Hasn't anyone considered that:

1) Maybe Pixar's not a perfect quality studio.

2) Perhaps Pixar peaked with Toy Story 3?
comment #15151 ManwiththePlan 2nd Jul 12
^ I think that's exactly what everyone's afraid of.
comment #15152 StarryEyed 2nd Jul 12
You're not making any sense, Munch. What you're saying is kind of like if your kid got a C on an essay for their high school English class, and tried to tell their teacher that it should be an A because the essay it's just as good as the essays the kid wrote in junior high.
comment #15153 Wryte 2nd Jul 12
My point is some of the past movies that Brave is being compared negatively to would have received the same reception if they were released today.

It is futile to compare Brave to other Pixar movies. It should be judged on its own merits, and on no others.

I'll bet you anything in less than 20 years, they'll be comparing the latest Pixar movie negatively to Brave!
comment #15164 Munchable 3rd Jul 12
TO STARRYEYED: I'm not afraid of that. Because when I go to see a Pixar movie I don't think about how great it will be just because it will be a Pixar movie. Nobody did when they saw the great Pixar movies of the past. They just went there, and they liked them when they came home. But if you build up your expectations so high to expect literally the greatest thing ever, of course you're going to be disappointed, because nothing can be as great as you've imagined it.
comment #15166 Munchable 3rd Jul 12
Wryte completely misunderstood what I was saying. I never said Monsters, Inc. and A Bug's Life were bad movies. I never even said they weren't great Pixar movies. What I said was that if they were released now they would be perceived by others as "good, but from Pixar, I expect great".
comment #15168 Munchable 3rd Jul 12

1. All Pixar movies are AT LEAST considered "good".

2. The Cars series (the 7th and 12th Pixar movies) is usually treated like the critically weakest Pixar movies. The Toy story series would probably be at the top (great if not perfect).

3. People aren't comparing Brave to Cars (not that I know of at least), but rather Brave to Toy Story.
comment #15177 son 4th Jul 12
Brave had a lot of expectations to be "better than good" because of the first time female lead.
comment #15178 son 4th Jul 12
Wryte's analogy makes the most sense to me. Why shouldn't we compare Pixar movies to each other?
comment #15180 Tuckerscreator 4th Jul 12
1. Brave is AT LEAST "good".

2 and 3. I never said anything about Cars because people did say "good, but from Pixar, I expect great" when it came out. It's basically the exact same case as Brave.

comment #15273 Munchable 8th Jul 12
Brave had expectations to be "better than good" because it was a Pixar movie.

What I am saying is that people should not build up high expectations of a film, because it will rarely be able to meet them.

If people went to see A Bug's Life and Monsters, Inc. with the expectations they had from all the other Pixar movies excluding the Cars films and Brave, they would be disappointed and call them "good, but from Pixar, I expect great".

The problem with saying things like this in reviews is that it puts one's own emotional expectations into the mix, which is unprofessional, and it relies on other films that have been made. A film should be reviewed on its own merits, not on any others.
comment #15274 Munchable 8th Jul 12
Nothing exists in a void, Munch. If it did, it couldn't possibly be criticized. Comparing a film to others, especially other films by the same company, is a perfectly reasonable aspect of criticism.

And by the way, I consider Brave average even on its own merits. The characters were great and the art was phenomenal, but the plot was predictable and the mother/daughter relationship that was the point of the whole movie just never clicked. The fact that it was made by Pixar only compounds my disappointment, it doesn't dictate it.
comment #15275 Wryte 8th Jul 12
A film that existed of itself could be criticized by virtue of whether it was entertaining or for many other reasons. It is ludicrous to say otherwise.

Fine, find it average on its own merits. That is good criticism.
comment #15284 Munchable 8th Jul 12

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