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Pixar’s “BRAVE” Unfortunately Average

June 26, 2012 by Kiersi

Brave the movie, Pixar

This movie gets: ♥♥♥ out of 5

Everyone is, I’m sure, aware that I am a total Pixar nut. I know every line from Ratatouille. I put on Finding Nemo whenever I’m feeling down, and Up or Toy Story when I’m home sick on the couch (or both). I defer to The Incredibles for superhero archetypes, not Marvel or DC. I still can’t watch Wall-E without going gooey-eyed.

When Cars came out, I knew something was changing. I stayed away from the film after seeing previews. It was obvious that the plot was amateur at best, the characters were caricatured and cartoonish, and despite being a musical, was no-holds-barred on stupid gags and racial/ethnic stereotypes. Eventually I decided I should see it, and was summarily disappointed. Let’s not even talk about the merchandise-rich Cars 2.

After watching the Pixar documentary, I realize now that Pixar as a film studio has done something both dangerous and rare: produced great movie after great movie, slipping only rarely, and even then, only after a half-dozen successes. Since establishing such a stellar reputation for themselves and raising the bar impossibly high, even a mediocre or simply not-great movie could get panned simply for not living up to the standards of Pixar’s previous films.

So it is that Pixar’s newest offering, Brave, is disappointingly average. By Disney or DreamWorks standards, Brave would have been middle-of-the-road: not as good as How to Train Your Dragon or Tangled, but up there–something like Spirit or Megamind. By Pixar standards, Brave is simply… not good enough.

Merida is the princess of a small Scottish kingdom. Though her mother pushes her to be a lady, Merida can’t help loving the unladylike: archery, horseback riding, adventuring–you name it. When the king and queen arrange for a tournament where the three clans will present their eldest sons to Merida in marriage, she is furious. With the help of a witch, Merida uses a spell on her mother to change her opinion about the prospect of marriage and, hopefully, change Merida’s fate.

Naturally, the spell backfires, and all hell breaks loose.

Let me name just a few movies that have the exact same premise as Brave, with a strong female character searching for a way out of an arranged marriage: John Carter, Pocahontas (and by extension, Avatar), Aladdin–I just finished Rae Carson’s Girl of Fire and Thorns, so perhaps that is why this premise feels so overdone and overly salient to me. Nevertheless, it is spectacularly unoriginal.

Now, Pixar did try to lace this film with some Pixar-trademarked cleverness and script-writing brilliance. The dinner table discussions between Merida’s parents are hilarious. Merida’s spell backfires in a particularly strange and unexpected way–though I can’t say it was ever explained why it backfired the way it did.

Since Up, I’ve noticed Pixar following a very Disney-like trend (and one I’m not necessarily comfortable with): inserting “gag” characters, when they aren’t really critical to the plot. Okay, talking dogs–I went with that for a while. It was a little overdone, but the movie was good enough that Pixar sold it. The three red-headed troublemakers in Brave really did nothing for me. They just reeked of that annoying dragon in Mulan that was voiced by Eddie Murphy.

The ending of Brave was so boring and predictable I could have storyboarded it in my sleep. Sure, the animation was great; the scenery was masterful; the dialogue was, well, okay. But without a decent plot to carry it, these things are meaningless.

In conclusion: Save the $28 bucks to take you and your date to a 3D viewing of Brave. Watch a better Pixar movie at home, and if you’re still hankering to see Brave, wait for it to hit the Red Box.


9 Comments »

  1. Austen says:

    I hate to say it but I completely agree. It was a real let down. I went in knowing next to nothing other than it was a Pixar film (which says a lot; I’m very critical of movies) but from the get go I was hoping for some kind of epic adventure.

    SPOILER ALERT

    Especially when they started going on about some epic kingdom that fell because of some guy, flashes of an epic fight between the now existing clans with some undead warriors of old sprang to mind. Unfortunately the best we got was a (admittedly gorgeous) set of ruins and a jacked up looking bear.

    END SPOILERS

    However, despite my complaints… La Luna (the short) was amazing and my personal favorite now.

    • Kiersi says:

      Funny, I didn’t even like the short that came before it. But yeah–I agree with you completely about the “epic kingdom” and “legends” and whatever. It felt rushed and tacked-on.

  2. I hate to say it, but the previews didn’t even intrigue me. We are big Finding Nemo fans in my house. We’ll watch that again instead.

  3. Brenda says:

    There is an expression in the UK, ‘Course for horses’ , meaning there is something for everyone. It wasn’t Monster’s Inc, but I wasn’t repelled by Brave. Yes, it was predictable but it had a good message and it came across. Listen to your kids.

    • Kiersi says:

      I guess I just felt like they were bludgeoning me over the head with the “message.” Which is one of the reasons I tend to dislike Disney and prefer Pixar films.

  4. Jon says:

    Just saw it. If it was a movie all about magical bears it could have been worth seeing. But plucky princesses? Yawn.

  5. Dan says:

    Kinda late in viewing this film, but I’m kinda glad about that now. I was dying to see this in the theaters, but I just couldn’t find the time for it at the time of release. Saw it tonight after renting it from the red-box and let me just say, I was completely dissapointed. It felt rushed, it was very cliche, and I didn’t really care for any of the characters besides Merida (and it wasn’t much!). I’m a huge Pixar guy, but after seeing Cars and now this…..I just hope they’re not taking the safe road home just to rake in cash. Not saying I expect golden movies EVERY single time, but these movies feel so below average. I feel if Brave didn’t have Pixar’s name to hide behind, it would’ve been labeled “just some other kids movie”.

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