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Movie Review — “Brave”

Grade: B

Disney and Pixar have done it again, bringing the same compelling storyline and lovable new characters in “Brave” that have made every one of their films timeless treasures.

This is the 15th feature length film for Pixar, a milestone itself, and also features the first female lead character, Merida (Kelly Macdonald), that the studio has ever centered a film around.

“Brave” is the story of Princess Merida growing up in Scotland and trying to fit into a world that she doesn’t completely agree with. Her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), insists that she act as a lady and a princess so that she may one day become a successful queen to her father’s kingdom. When the time comes for her to be betrothed, she defies her mother and sabotages an archery tournament that was to determine the young man who would be her suitor. In her outrage, Queen Elinor throws Merida’s cherished bow into a fire, but her intentions were not meant to be so cruel.

Merida, upset and hurt by her mothers actions, flees to the forest where she finds an old witch who gives her a magic spell to change her mom, but not in the way Merida expects. When Merida realizes what she has done to her mother, she knows she has to make it right and must do so before the second sunrise or her mother will stay that way forever.

“Brave” isn’t about being brave in the sense of being herioc. It’s more about being brave in the sense that you’re brave enough to admit when you’re wrong.

The connection between Merida and her mother is a very strong one. However, as Merida ages and her mother becomes more and more insistant on molding her into a well-mannered princess, the connection between the two becomes strained to the point of breaking entirely.

That is what is at the heart of “Brave:” mending the relationship between mother and daughter and admitting when the actions of both were wrong.

What always makes Pixar films special is the story and the underlying message that each has. Take for instance 2007’s “Ratatouille” a film about a rat wanting to be a chef who eventually becomes one despite the fact that he’s a rat. And while rats are considered vermin, he doesn’t let that hinder his ability to become a great chef. Perseverance, determination and not letting anything stand in the way of your dream is the core message of “Ratatouille” and it’s one of my favorite Pixar films solely for its message.

I think “Brave” brings something just a special to the screen. A human connection between mother and daughter that so many young girls and mothers can easily relate to. It’s connections like those that make these films so easy and fun to watch for all ages. They aren’t necessarily geared towards one particular age group. They’re written in such a way that the youngest of young and the oldest of old can enjoy every minute of them.

However, when you slap the Pixar name along with a film, there are a lot of expectations that come with it. While I enjoyed “Brave,” unfortunately something about the film felt missing for me.

It embodies a great message and has lovable characters, but something about the film felt off. Maybe it was the pacing or the slightly underdeveloped characters, I can’t quite put my finger on it. As I sat there and watched, I enjoyed what I saw, but it didn’t bring me to the same emotional point as “Toy Story 3” or “Up” did.

I think the problem is that I’m clearly not one of those girls or moms that the film is trying to attract.

I could enjoy the film for what it was, a top notch Pixar film, but not being part of their target audience hurt my ability to enjoy its message on a more personal level.

But looking at it purely as film and not what it did for me personally, it’s a fine film with quality from Pixar that keeps improving with each of their films.

“Brave” is a great film that I enjoyed for its message and lovable characters and I truly can’t wait for the next Pixar film. I would definitely recommend this film to anyone looking for a heart warming experience or to anyone who simply wants to see a beautifully made computer generated animated film.

Let me know what you thought of “Brave” in the comments section below.

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