Disney and Pixar’s Brave

This is what happens when I actually go to bed at a decent time: I wake up at 3:15 a.m.! Oh well, nothing I can do about it. So I’ll be productive and write a blog post.

I’ve realized that keeping up with pop culture is hard work. I was looking back over some of my older posts and realized I totally spaced it in making posts about thatgamecompany‘s Journey (yes, the company’s name is spelled correctly), and Disney and Pixar’s Brave. I figured I’ll work my way backward with the more recent topics first. Journey will likely be pre-empted again by The Dark Knight Rises, which I’ll probably be seeing today, and no later than Monday if not. For now, Brave.

Movie poster for Brave. Taken from Wikipedia. Owned by Disney and Pixar.

To start, Brave was not at all what I expected. From its darker visual tone and the mention of war in one of the trailers, I was expecting an adventure movie more along the lines of Dreamwork’s How to Train Your Dragon. To be fair, Brave is an adventure movie to some extent, but not in the arrow shooting, horse riding way the trailer might make one think.

The story of Brave centers around Merida, the teenage princess of Clan DunBroch. Being the first born child in the family as well as the only daughter, Merida’s family expects her to marry one of the princes from the neighboring Scottish tribes to maintain peaceful relations. Merida’s mother, Queen Elinor, takes it upon herself to train Merida in the ways of noble womanhood to prepare her daughter for the marriage she thinks is Merida’s duty. Merida feels smothered. She does not want to be a lady, nor does marriage appeal to her. But fate is not on Merida’s side. The neighboring clans’ princes arrive to compete for her hand; none of them are charming, and marriage seems inevitable until Merida thinks she sees a hole in the land’s customs and declares she will compete for her own hand. The result is a total falling out between Elinor and Merida, and Merida flees into the woods. Amid the mist and mystery, Merida discovers the power to change her fate. But it comes at a higher cost than Merida is willing to pay, and she must race against time to undo the fate-changing spell before the damage becomes permanent and war ensues between the clans.

Such is the basic story of Brave though I have to admit that I’m also being misleading in the above description. Let me say it again, Brave is not an adventure movie in the traditional sense. It has some elements of a good fantasy adventure—magic, mystery, impending doom, and even a bit of action—but adventure is not the focus. Instead, Brave is about the relationship between a mother and her rebellious teenage daughter. As one might expect from the setup of the story, Merida and Elinor don’t see eye-to-eye, and the bulk of Brave is spent exploring their deteriorating relationship and eventual reconciliation. Over the course of the movie, they begin to understand one another. Merida realizes how much her mother loves her and only wants what is best for her, and Queen Elinor learns how important Merida’s independence is to her. I know most have probably seen the movie by now, but I still don’t want to spoil the story any more than that for any who haven’t. So I won’t say more.

I will say that while Brave is not what I expected, it is still a fun movie. The humor is wonderful, and the story is touching. I don’t think it is the best Disney Pixar movie (for me, that is Up), but it is still great. I also have to give the movie props for its impressively strong, well-rounded depiction of Merida and Elinor. There have been some standout characters amongst the Disney Princess pantheon, like Jasmine and Belle, but plenty of them have been flat, static characters. Not so in Brave, and that fact coupled with the humor, story, and wonderful animation all make Brave another great addition to the Disney Pixar lineup.

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