Review: Disney’s BRAVE

Disney Movie Brave

Disney/Pixar pushed the limits on technology to make BRAVE. The story of a Scottish princess uses technology that animators wished existed years ago when making other familiar films. This time, though, they had what they dreamed of and really challenged themselves not only to make the most of the technology they had but also to take the audience along on this adventure in the Scottish Highlands.

Queen Elinor is voiced by Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson, who does a phenomenal job of giving life to an animated character. You hear the emotions in the voice which matches the animation, so much so that there were times I forgot all of the visuals were tech-created. King Fergus is also so well done you may think actor, musician, comedian Billy Connolly really is acting the part. Kelly Macdonald gives princess Merida her soul and you’re drawn in to her as a young girl rather than, like prior Pixar films, a computer generated character.

The scenery is beautiful and very authentic. It’s easy to believe the characters are real and living in medieval times. The cast of characters we see bring laughter and comic relief at just the right times.

The story, though, is where I had some challenges. From the initial press, BRAVE seemed to be a story about a young girl bucking traditions to establish a new path for her life rather than accepting tradition. I knew that the princess wasn’t going to do exactly what a princess was supposed to do. The title is, afterall, BRAVE. I thought Merida was going to be more Mulan than Ariel or Belle or Snow White.

It’s one thing to take control of your destiny, it’s something completely different to be part of a corporate formula of what little girls should learn about a being a princess. Princess Merida wasn’t born into royalty. It stems naturally then that she’s going to be different. In many ways she’s no different than other young girls when it come to pushing boundaries with what your mom tells you. And while it’s a challenge to learn all the princessy-stuff, Merida does her best while wrestling with her inner country commoner who was taught to be independent at a young age.

As a princess, though, Merida doesn’t see eye-to-eye with her mother. In a fit she storms off and this is where I was less than pleased with the storyline. It’s formula. Sure it took its cue from the legend Queen Elinor was teaching to Merida. The story had Merida living out the gist of the legend. Although, it did throw in a witch (which, oddly, looked very much like the witch from the Snow White’s Scary Adventure ride) the story really didn’t need if they’d put a little more thought and creativity to making the legend more an integral part of the film.

At the end, of course, everything turns out OK and all is well in the Kingdom once again. It’s not without suspense and the edge-of-your-seat hoping that everything turns out OK and Merida and her mom are, once again, happily together. Was it a good movie, absolutely. Were there parts I was disappointed with, yes to that one too.

The big measure of success was what BabyGirl and her BFF thought of the movie. Two 9 year old girls loved the movie. They both thought the story was OK and they were sad that Merida and her mom got into a fight. While they knew it was just a movie, it impressed upon them that it’s OK to be mad at your mom but you shouldn’t wish anything bad to happen to her because maybe it will and that part made them sad. Overall though, they were so excited to have seen it (in 3D, too!) and see a strong girl as the main character, as well as the love among the family. They also liked that there were very funny parts too.

Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, BRAVE opens in theaters across the US on June 22, 2012, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

Disclosure: I was invited to a press screening and did not pay to see the movie. I was not required to write about the movie as a condition of the invitation. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third party. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar