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Movie Review: Brave

Brave is perfectly animated, but the story has many flaws.

Pixar's first tale to center on a female heroine introduces us to Merida, who is, ironically enough, an adventurous tomboy. She loathes her loving mother (the queen) for pushing her into the very feminine royal life laid out for her based on the traditions of her people. This resentment eventually boils over, and Merida rides off into the woods in an act of protest. During this glorified tantrum, she stumbles upon a mysterious group of stones and magical blue 'wisp' creatures. These beings lead Merida to the cabin of a bumbling witch with a penchant for spells. Merida strikes a deal with her to 'change her destiny' in exchange for a valuable necklace. Of course the new destiny is worse than her original one so Merida spends the rest of the movie trying to, as we Bay-Staters know how to say all too well, 'reverse the curse!'

As usual for Pixar, the animation is nothing short of breathtaking. A young girl sitting behind me at the theater gasped “So beautiful!” when the film opened to a stunning shot of an animated Scottish coastal community. The way the animators craft the different settings for our characters in such vivid color and detail is almost worth the price of admission alone...almost.

Where the film falters is with both the overall pacing and with the development of an antagonist. The beginning of the movie seems to drag, especially for a fairy tale geared at young children. The first hour could have been told in half the time, and gets quite repetitive as it drives home the point that Merida is not happy with her life. She is like the child version of Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love – both being whiny characters that have so much yet want something different. Once Brave does begin to move along plotwise, it becomes a disjointed tale in search of a villain. Is it the witch? The demon bear? The queen? Merida herself? Maybe all of them? The narrative doesn't take the time to establish any one evil to root against, which leaves older, more mature viewers a little impartial to the outcome.

For a story so lacking in a developed villain, it is surprisingly violent, taking advantage of every last bit of the 'PG' rating. From constant sword/fist/bear fights to one character getting crushed to death by a large stone, I was taken aback by how far Pixar took the intensity of this story. While other Pixar movies have had dramatic scenes, this one strikes me as the first I would say real young children would not enjoy seeing. I wish the film had leaned more on the humor, because when Brave tries to be funny, it succeeds brilliantly. There are a few comical sequences with devious little triplets that save the film from being a complete disaster.

All that criticism aside, this is a perfect movie for preteen/middle school girls who can handle cartoon violence and want an ultimately positive message. For the rest of us, Pixar's latest is simply a disappointing Scottish legend that borrows from better animated films of a similar vein (see the far superior Spirited Away). It's not the worst way to spend your money at the multiplex, but it's certainly not worth rushing out to see if you aren't in the target demographic. In my movie-going opinion, I would give it a 5 out of 10.

Did you see it? What did you think?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Dan B. July 04, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Thank you for your feedback Linda, and while I don't entirely agree with your assessment of the flowing conversation, I appreciate you taking the time to share your stance. I don't mind when people disagree with me or criticize my blog posts. That isn't the issue. The issue is with how people continued to act (and in my opinion overreact) once the problem was acknowledged and fixed. When the first person on this site informed me of the error in the original posting, I contacted the editor immediately, she fixed the mistake, and I thought that would be the end of it. Unfortunately it wasn't. People began posting really nasty, somewhat outrageous comments despite seeing that it was on the way to being resolved. I tried (unsuccessfully) to calm some of the anger by trying to let those commenters know that I was an at-home movie buff, not an experienced critic. I'm not saying I don't have to be careful, but more that volunteer blogging (as with everything) is prone to also have a mistake now and then. I may not have chosen the magic words to calm the negativity, but I shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. I feel I did everything within my power to right the wrong (it was only posted incorrectly for a very short time). (POST ONE OF TWO)
Dan B. July 04, 2012 at 07:23 PM
(POST TWO OF TWO) One person called the offense 'unforgivable' and that's when I began to get annoyed - and what kind of example is that setting for her children when she won't forgive a blogger for an honest mistake. I accepted criticism well - see my response to the first comment about the error - what I don't accept well is a ridiculous statement. In these comments sections, there isn't the bold or italics so ALL CAPS was meant more to add emphasis to the fact that this was a BLOG post not some set in stone verdict. It was a fixable medium. And the error had been fixed. I tried to extend the olive branch so to speak to the one commenter, Ashley, inviting her to post a link to her reviews so we could turn the conversation back to movies. I love movies. I love blogging about movies. I love good-natured arguing about movies with fellow bloggers, friends, and family. What I don't love is when people make a mountain out of a mole hill, which I truly believe is what happened here.
Dan B. July 04, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Thanks Ralph!!
Dan B. July 04, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Thank you Evie! I'm sincerely glad you enjoyed it!! I didn't hate it (although you'd think I did from some of the comments) - I felt it was a mixed bag. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the point of a blog style review in the first place is to provoke discussion. Mission accomplished!!
Jennifer Lucarelli July 05, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I think we've exhausted the discussion on the movie review. I'm going to shut off the comments on this review. Thanks for all the comments and I encourage anyone who'd like to blog to sign up on the homepage.

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