innocent_man: (r&g)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Brave is a Pixar movie that didn't get the same kind of love as Up or Monsters Inc, but is still very much worthy of the company.

Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is a Scottish princess who's stifling under her mother's (Emma Thompson) rules. Her father (Billy Connoly) is a bit more like her - loud, passionate, likes to fight and boast, while her mother is more staid and reserved. But Merida's real passion is archery, and so when the four clans assemble so that the firstborn sons can compete for Merida's hand in marriage, she defies her mother and tradition by competing for her own hand, handily winning an archery contest.

Which would be bad enough, but then after a blazing fight with her mother in which she slashes the family tapestry, she runs to the woods and buys a spell from a witch wood carver. Said spell takes the form of a cake that, when eaten, turns her mother (and her three little brothers) into a bear.

Turns out this happened once before - the bear-creature, Mordu, stalks the land even still! (And it's not like it's just a legend; fricking thing ate the king's leg when Merida was just a wee lass.)

The movie is a fairy tale, complete with princess. And it's easy to see why a lot of audiences thought it was nothing special. EXCEPT, you have to look at what's different.

Merida doesn't fix her problems by acquiescing, first of all. She's active, passionate and vocal, but unlike with Belle, those qualities aren't her undoing and they're not necessarily seen as bad things (her mother doesn't tell her to shut up, just to act with some decorum).

And then there's this rather important bit - Merida is a princess with two living parents. Name another one (I can't). Also, it's her mother that's the focus of the character arc. Her father is there, he's present, and he obviously loves his family, but for the most part he isn't an antagonists or a stubborn idiot (he does lock Merida in a room, but to protect her from a bear, and I kind of have to give him that one). Both Merida and Elinor have a distinct character arc, and their relationship - mother/daughter, which is never explored in kids' movies - is the focus of the story.

If I have a quibble, it's that the wood carver character and that whole scene felt cutesy enough to be out of place. The rest of the movie had a mythic quality to it, and then the wood carver has a magical phone menu? Eh. It felt like that scene was thrown in because someone didn't feel the movie was relatable enough. But really, beyond that, the movie is beautifully animated and really well acted. It might not be my favorite Pixar movie, but I like it and it definitely improves on second viewing.

My Grade: A-
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: An American Tail


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