I have gone on record as saying that I would watch anything Pixar ever produced, and I have pretty much done so. Their animation is second to none, or in this case their digital picture drawing. The movie Brave, and its wonderful short subject La Luna further illustrate their mastery of this technique. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the plot, the characters, and the dialogue. ‘Brave’ has been out for some time now, and has gotten mixed, but mostly favorable reviews. The storyline is pretty simple— young Scottish lass who happens to be a princess, does not fancy living the life her mother intends for her— marrying a young Scottish laird and producing some heirs. Rather she, being a Scottish spitfire and tomboy favors riding, archer on horseback, and generally having a good time in the woods. Spoiler alert— the film gives new meaning to the phrase ‘my mother can be a real bear sometimes and unbearable at others’.
The positive features of the film (which lasts one hour and 43 minutes) besides the technical mastery (we saw it in real 3D, and again it was fun but unnecessary), are that we have Scottish characters with Scottish accents, we have a story set in the Scottish past which is reminiscent in some respects of the movie Braveheart, and the family drama of tension between a teen and her mom is not hard to relate to if you’ve been a parent. Here’s the problem— this really isn’t a children’s movie. And furthermore, it’s largely lacking in laughs or fun. Indeed, more often than not its deadly serious. The dialogue is seldom witty, the father (Fergus) is portrayed as an axe wielding oaf, and you can hardly blame Merida (the daughter and focus of the film) for not wanting anything to do with any of the suitors. Instead, the story turns into a ‘mend the bond between daughter and mother’ story, with a little of ‘I gotta be me’ thrown in for good measure.
So in terms of characters the story is interesting. In terms of dialogue it is very weak. In terms of plot, it also leaves a good deal to be desired. Indeed, it might even remind one of MacBeth in the witch scenes.
Is this a better film than the other children’s films of the summer (e.g. Madagascar III)? Yes. Is it really a film that will entertain and enlighten children between 5 and say 12— not bloody likely. It will seem too scary or boring or incomprehensible to most children. Perhaps, we can hope for better from the next installment of Ice Age (Continental Drift) or Monster’s Inc. (Monster’s University).