PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
In Scotland, King Fergus of Clan DunBroch presents his young daughter Merida with a bow for her birthday. While practicing with the bow, Merida briefly encounters a will-o’-the-wisp as a giant demon bear named Mor’du attacks the family. Merida escapes along with her mother Queen Elinor while Fergus fights off the bear alongside his men at the cost of his left leg. Years later, Elinor has since given birth to identical triplet boys, and Merida has become a free-spirited and adventurous teenager. One night, her mother informs her she is to be betrothed to one of her father’s allied clans: Dingwall, Macintosh, or MacGuffin. Despite her mother’s attempts to explain the necessity of the marriage her by telling her a legend of a power-hungry prince who broke off from his duty and caused the ruin of a kingdom, Merida is dissatisfied with the arranged marriage.
The clans arrive with their first-born sons to compete in the Highland Games for Merida’s hand, and the princess chooses archery as the main event. During the competition, Lord Dingwall’s son wins by accident. Entering the competition, Merida says that as the first-born of Clan DunBroch she is eligible to compete for her own hand, and later has a falling-out with Elinor. When Merida destroys a tapestry depicting her family and Elinor burns her bow, Merida flees to the forest. While there, the Will O’ The Wisps lead her to the hut of an elderly witch who insists she is a wood carver. After some bargaining, the witch agrees to give Merida a spell, in the form of a cake, to change her mother.
Merida returns to the castle and gives Elinor the cake, transforming her into a bear. With the help of her brothers, Merida helps Elinor escape from the castle. The pair return to the witch’s cottage, finding the witch gone for the season. Through a potion-controlled automated message, Merida discovers that the spell will be permanent unless undone by the second sunrise. The witch leaves Merida a riddle, mentioning that a pride-torn bond must be repaired. The next morning, Merida and her mother begin to reconcile their relationship while gathering fish and playing in a nearby river. However, Merida observes the spell to be slowly becoming permanent, transforming Elinor into a wild bear. The pair encounters the wisps again and follows them to ancient ruins, learning that Mor’du was once the prince of Elinor’s legend, and received the same spell from the witch. After fleeing an attack from Mor’du, Merida theorizes that the repair of the tapestry will turn her mother human again and prevent her from becoming like Mor’du.
At the castle, the clans are on the verge of war because of Merida’s actions, but the princess quells their fighting and declares that the children should be allowed to get married in their own time. Her suitors second her and the lords agree. Merida then sneaks into the tapestry room with Elinor, who once again loses her humanity for a few minutes. Fergus goes to his bedchambers to find Elinor, but mistakes her to be dead after seeing the room destroyed. Elinor attacks both Merida and Fergus when he steps into their room. On regaining human consciousness, she races out of the castle in desperation. Thinking that Elinor is Mor’du, Fergus detains Merida and follows her. With the help of her brothers, now transformed into cubs from eating the cake, Merida races after her father while fixing the tapestry. As the clan members and Fergus capture Elinor, Merida intervenes; however, Mor’du attacks Merida, Fergus and the clan members. Elinor kills Mor’du by luring him under a falling masonry, setting the spirit of the prince free.
Merida places the tapestry over Elinor, professes her love for her mother and reconciles. Elinor is transformed back along with the triplets, and the family is reunited once again. A few days later, the clans depart for their respective lands and Merida and Elinor ride their horses together, sharing a closer relationship than before.
Pixar has a near perfect batting average. Every summer they release an animated masterpiece and, with the exception of Cars 2, they’ve all been huge successes with both critics and fans. Along comes Brave, a bit of a departure from the usual Pixar faire. As a matter of fact, this seems to be more in the vein of classic Disney, except that it is computer animated. Does it keep the tradition going, though?
What did I like?
Flame on. I have a soft spot for redheads. From Lucille Ball, Ann Margaret, and Maureen O’Hara to Isla Fisher, Julianne Moore, and Christina Hendricks, those with red hair have always had a place on the screen, and yet, with the exception of Ariel from The Little Mermaid, this is a grossly underrepresented group. Not only do we get a heroine here with curly, red hair, but her brothers have it as well, and, though it has some gray in it, so does her father.
Comedy. If there is one thing that is a bit of a weakness for Pixar, it has to be the comedy. They can’t seem to make a film that is truly funny. This is another flick that doesn’t quite make you roll on the floor laughing, but it will at least make you giggle in places, which is a step forward.
Triplets. Although these boys don’t say a word throughout the entire film, they are one of best parts about it. Not only are they comic relief, but they are the bratty little brothers that get into everything (I was one of those at one time). When you see these guys, you’ll almost wonder if they are just Huey, Dewey, and Louie in disguise and Donald is off-screen ready to have another one of his patented temper tantrums after seeing them get into everything.
Which witch. There is a small cameo from a witch, who is quite integral in the film’s plot. Very similar to witches such as Mama Odie and Madame Mimm, this one is a bit more eccentric, or dare I say absent-minded, but she is a hoot to watch. Such a shame we didn’t get more of her, though.
What didn’t I like?
No moment. I was expecting to have that one moment that reminds you that this is a Pixar flick, but nothing really happened. To be honest with you, there didn’t seem to be any apparent growth in terms of animation between this and Up, with the exception of Merida’s hair, of course.
Recycled. The plot of this film, involving a family member being turned into a bear, is too closely related to Brother Bear, if you ask me. You’d think they could have found another ferocious animal, or gone another way with this particular part of the plot. Pixar has been the one studio that has seemed capable of coming up with their own ideas, before this.
Another rebellious princess. Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is apparently the year of “girl power” (everytime I say that, I think back to the Spice Girls), but I’ve already had enough of these princesses who rebel and nearly start a war. Go on and call me chauvinistic, but I miss the days of the damsel in distress.
Brave is far from being a bad or even average film. It is very good, but did you expect less? The problems with this film are very minute, and may come from Pixar’s being too cocky or some such nonsense. This is still one of those films that is worth paying the extra $$$ and seeing in the theaters, can’t comment on the 3D, though, since I only saw it in 2D. I highly recommend it, though.
4 1/4 out of 5 stars