Disney/Pixar’s “Brave” Movie Review
Kidzworld's take on Brave, the first Pixar film with a female lead character.
By: Lynn Barker
If you were a feisty princess, very talented with a bow and arrow, who had rather spend your time in the forest, riding your beloved horse and practicing archery than hanging out back at the castle entertaining a bunch of unappealing suitors as your mom dictates, you might take charge and change your fate!
Princess in Peril
In ancient Scotland, flame-haired teen Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) spends her days exploring, riding her beloved horse Angus and practicing archery on forest courses she has designed. Her happy days are cut short when mom Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson) tells her that there will be a gathering of the clans and each will put up a young man as a potential suitor. It’s time for Merida to marry to cement a strong bond and keep the peace.
Merida outshoots her suitors
Courtesy of Pixar
The Scottish Games
The suitors arrive and Merida chooses archery as the competition for her hand. A skinny, unappealing suitor wins by accident but Merida decides to “outshoot” them all, does so and upsets the clans and her parents. Refusing the unwanted marriage, she confronts her angry mom who tries to burn her bow and Merida partially destroys a tapestry depicting the family by tearing mom’s figure off. Desperately unhappy, she runs to her beloved woods.
Witch and the Wisps
Deep in the woods, Merida encounters magical “Wisps”, fairy-like creatures who lead her to a witch’s cottage where she “buys” a spell to change her mom’s mind hoping to change her fate. Of course, “change” means something different to the witch and mom changes bigtime….into a bewildered bear!
Merida and Mom argue
Courtesy of Pixar
Reverse the Spell
While bonding with her Mum-bear, Merida learns that she must repair the mess she has caused or mom will go full-bear forever. She also learns that this has happened before to another rebellious young royal years ago. She thinks she must repair the tapestry she ripped to break the spell. The witch said something about repairing the broken bond. Back at the castle, Merida finds the clans about to go to war. Can she save mom, reverse the damage she has caused as well as break tradition and change her fate?
Wrapping Up: Being part Scottish myself (mom’s side of the family is Clan Cameron) I loved seeing Scotland again through the eyes of the amazing Pixar animators. This film looks rich, lush and magical and is fun in 3-D.
Mom Elinor tires to tame Merida's hair
Courtesy of Pixar
Storywise, new ideas combine with very old as we see a rebellious princess (like Ariel in The Little Mermaid) fighting with a parent over her intended fate. There is a wicked witch and a spell, etc. This time, however, the princess has both parents in her life and we concentrate on the believable mother/daughter conflict we all face in our teen years. There is even a scene much like the one in Titanic where Rose’s mom tightens her corset and tells her that women have certain duties in life. Like Rose, Merida isn’t buying it. She even tells mom “I’d rather die than be like you”. Wow, bet you’ve never heard that in a Disney film!
Voice actors are excellent all around even if you can’t always understand the Scottish accents. In Brave, the princess isn’t a victim needing rescue by a prince but a willful young woman who causes problems that she must take responsibility for and fix. The story wanders a bit and isn’t as strong as it could be. Everything ties up a bit easier than it should but, overall, especially if you are into strong but flawed heroines like Katniss Everdeen (complete with the bow and arrows), you’ll get behind Merida and enjoy this beautifully made, feisty adventure. It’s not an edgy Pixar classic but very worthy none-the-less.
Also, at the theater you'll see a delightful short Pixar film called "La Luna" about family and a magical take on the moon's phases.