Our "Double Header" reviews, in case you've missed the previous posts, are when we take a movie and both provide reviews. You get 2 points of view in one post. Check out our previous Double Headers here and here. BEWARE MINOR SPOILERS!
Of course I had been highly anticipating Brave since I saw the teaser almost a year ago. The film had me at "hello" because it wasn't another Pixar sequel and it sported the first central female character Pixar has dared to draw.
But it turned out to be so much more than the "girl power" plot I expected. Thanks to some rather ambiguous marketing, the film goes beyond the heroine Merida refusing to be thrown into an arranged marriage as advertised. The message of family bonding is explored more than I ever expected out of Disney, a company whose history is rich in killing off parents. So though I was at first taken aback by the film's plot twist, I quickly found myself enjoying a tale that went beyond simplistic one-sided self-discovery and told a beautiful tale on a much more personal level. And beyond that the film excels in fun, humor, suspense, and legend.
Brave is easily one of Pixar's most beautiful films, in terms of both animation and story. I have been saddened by the lack of enthusiasm as a whole, but perhaps seeing the film with my own daughter and mother may have swayed my adoration. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
I went into Brave with really mixed expectations because reviews hadn't been stellar and I had no idea what to expect from a Pixar version of a Disney princess. Oh, and in the recent Northeast heat waves I also managed to find the one theater where the A/C was BROKEN. And I only mention this because I think it speaks to how much I did enjoy the film that I stayed for the whole thing.
Merida (voiced by Kelly McDonald) is a strong, young, Scottish lass that has come to the age of getting married. As she has no desire to actually wed and become her mother, she fights for her right and runs away. However, the classic runaway changes here, she doesn't actually want to leave, she just wants her mother to get off her back. She finds a witch to cast a spell to this end, which, as any fairy tale would predict, will have unexpected consequences.
I really loved the originality of this tale. It was fun and unexpected, and it had quirky characters from her over the top father and silly brothers, but had a TON of heart. The relationship between Merida and her mother was fraught with all the classic tensions, lessons, and disappointments. My only problem with the film, which I think kept it from being great, was that the characters of Merida and her mother start off fairly flat. There is no other woman for Merida to complain to or another boy she wants to be like. We know very little of why she doesn't want to marry or why she doesn't seem to like her mother very much. I know these seem like small things, but it is just my basic reasoning for why I didn't think it was great. The originality of the story, the wonderful score and songs, and really, really beautiful animation make it a really good film. Apparently Pixar CAN make a better Disney Princess.