When I saw the (countless) previews for Brave I was never wildly impressed with them, and didn’t really care if I saw it or not. Well, I knew I would see it but when is the better question.
I also learned recently that there is a rather large subset of people who believe that Pixar can do no wrong, all of their movies are amazing, and judge new movies based off everything they’ve ever done. That sucks for Pixar. Good for money, but still, kind of a weird position to be in.
Either way, what bugged me about the previews is they were all super vague. For some reason a girl wants to change her fate and has to go at great lengths to do it. But from the previews it makes it seem like the fate she wants to avoid is just a marriage? Hmm, weird.
Oh and she likes to shoot things, of course.
Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a Scottish “princesS”. Her father Fergus (Billy Connolly) lost his leg in a fight with the deadliest bear ever, of all time, and helped lead the other three tribes to fight off invaders. So they made him king. However, they agreed that to strengthen the tribes, the daughter (once she gets a certain age) must marry the first born son of one of the other chieftains. Ugh, marriage!
Her mom Elinor (Emma Thompson) is the voice of reason in the house, and has been grooming her daughter to be a proper lady and suitable Queen should the time come. Her dad gave her a bow and arrow, and taught her to ride and be adventurous and hunt! Doesn’t help when the the tribes come to town, the three suitors are all “undesirable” (seemingly based on outward appearance only, for shame Merida). Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane), Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd) and Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) are all willing to fight over it, so she has an archery competition to decide!
Which she enters herself, pissing off her mom, embarrassing the tribes, and then she runs away. Hey whats that? A witch (Julie Walters)? A potion to change her fate by changing her mom? That is a vague as crap potion wish, I am sure it won’t come back to haunt her or do anything too drastic. AND THEN I REALIZED WHY THE PLOT WAS SO SECRETIVE.
It just feels ludicrous to even explain what happens in the second half, and spoils a lot of things. So uhh, rather you find out on your own.
Her unkempt hair shows her free spirit.
Alright, first off I don’t care that the main character is a woman and that she can shoot a bow. Movies that go against stereotypes just to do that shouldn’t matter, cause I don’t care if a lead is male or female, animated or actually existing. Turns out the fact that she can shoot a bow really good adds…very little to the story. Its whole purpose to give her a “non girly” thing to do and surprise people with.
But outside of that, I think the the writers walked a pretty nice line in terms of avoiding women stereotypes, if that was their goal. Don’t be fooled though, this movie is mostly stereotypes. I mean, kilts, Scottish people, just asking for it. Most of the humor is slapstick in nature as well. But the mom? Not mean, just caring. Merida? Not really brave, but kind of reckless and childish. The witch? Not at all mean, just kind of a plot point to teach people lesson/morals.
The actual “bad guy” in the movie also turns out to not even be that bad. A film with everyone being a decent person (eventually).
You might be confused. “Wait? Merida not that Brave?” Sure, she does some stuff, takes some courage. But the bravest character in the movie is in fact the mom character. I think it should have been more from her point of view, but that is harder to sell. So when I looked back on the film, I imagined it as her story and liked it a lot better. Because like I said, Merida is just way more typical child, leaping before looking, overreacting, refusing to talk things out, reckless, than brave. But hey, whatever.
I also felt that some instances could have been vastly improved, story telling wise. But then it would have probably made it a PG-13 movie instead. Oh well.
3 out of 4.