“Brave” / “La Luna” talkback

A lot of divided opinion about this film. Manohla Dargis in her review in The New York Times focused on feminist stance of Merida, the heroine of Brave, calling her “a marvel of computer imagineering”. Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times took a little closer look at the film’s story and says it “doesn’t hit the bullseye.”

There’s no doubt Brave is Pixar at its best – visually. The film begins as the kind of forward-thinking original story we’ve come to expect from the studio – something bold, new and different; a tale that hasn’t been told this way before. But alas, the story veers into territory already explored in Brother Bear, The Princess and The Frog — even The Emperors New Groove. Is it entertaining: yes. Is it gorgeous to look at: absolutely. Is it Pixar’s best? Or is this the year the frontrunner joins the rest of the pack? That’s what I want to know from you.

Comments accepted below only by those who have seen Brave in a theatre. Oh, and let us know how you liked Enrico Casarosa’s La Luna, the marvelous short playing along with the film.


  • Jason

    This movie didn’t focus on a ‘feminist stance’ at all. When a character constantly harps on how ‘different’ and self empowering she is in comparison to other girls, it doesn’t strengthen girl power whatsoever. It just reinforces that she lives in a man’s world.

    It’s also a lazy plot device when Mulan did it so much better.

    • purin

      I agree wholeheartedly when it comes to comparisons to other girls, but I think it’s the other way around. Mulan had a whole town of normal girls and women who seemed to pull off femininity better and without effort or doubt. We don’t know anything about them, and we don’t need to, because they’re just the “other” girls and women that Mulan isn’t.
      In Brave, Merida’s contrast primarily is her mother and her mother’s expectations (both her gender role as well as the responsibility of being queen), but she doesn’t seem to be at odds with “other girls.” Of course, said other girls aren’t even present in the movie for that comparison to take place to begin with. It’s a given that she’s different from “other girls,” but the movie, I think, puts the conflict in terms of her conr, who may be trying to put on airs (she mentions wanting to give Merida a life her parents never had).

      In both case, it would be nice if our protagonists had a woman for a friend instead of just parents, authority figures or comparisons.

  • Laura

    Brave started out as something I was interested in seeing; A real story about a family with gorgeous visuals. But I found that the mystical side turned the whole dilemma into a type of joke, something that can not be solved with reason or self discovery, but with witchcraft and “fate”. I truly wanted to see Merida take fate into her own hands, but left slightly disappointed in this film. I wish it took itself a bit more seriously.

    But the visuals were stunning and the new Presto software was noticeably an improvement.

    I enjoyed the film, but it did not live to they hype or to my high story standards for Pixar films.

    • dbenson

      I enjoyed it, but agree that it went a bit more conventional than what it seemed to promise.

      “How to Train Your Dragon” signaled from the beginning exactly what kind of movie it was: Outcast kid tames dragon, becomes hero, lots of contemporary gags. It was a good film on its own terms, consistent in tone and true to its promises.

      “Brave”, on the other hand, seemed to promise something more nuanced than the often jokey adventure that kicked in — although, to be fair, brilliant stuff would bubble up even in the silliest moments.

      On the one hand, I’d say this is an objectively better film than “Dragon.” But “Dragon” delivered on its simpler promises. “Brave”, to mangle an old movie line, delivered the moon but promised the stars.

      Speaking of which: “La Luna” was great. Innocent, magical and remarkably witty at the same time. And everything was so simple and clear — and blissfully unexplained — you’re thinking “of course” instead of “great story.”

      • huh?

        I don’t remember many contemporary gags in ‘How to Train your Dragon’… Honestly I can’t think of one, never mind ‘lots’.

        It certainly didn’t have any answering machines…

        I think I’ll take an underwear joke over 15+ counts of rear nudity, boob and butt jokes plus countless people needlessly running into and tripping over things any day.

    • OtherDan

      I agree about the point where movie became less interesting. I wish they had played up the mother/daughter conflict to the point that she inadvertently killed her with the spell. I think the remorse would have been stronger, she’d have
      Ore soul searching to do, and she’d be more desperate to change her (motherless) fate…Eh, I guess I would have liked it to go a different direction. The curly red hair was amazing and really carried the entire movie! We still enjoyed it-as Brother Bear as it was.

    • Lee

      I have to disagree with one of your criticisms. The message of the movie is not that witchcraft and fate are solutions but rather exactly the opposite. Witchcraft only makes matters worse and the entire last half of the movie is spent trying to undo the wrong wrought by witchcraft. It isn’t until Merida and the Queen experience introspection and empathy that a true epiphany of both themselves and one another is realized. THAT was what I thought was the message. You can’t fix things with hocus pocus. True change must come from within.

      “Change of fate? Look inside!”

      While I agree that the film is not “Citizen Kane” it isn’t intended to be. It was simple and fun.

      But I did observe something that made me believe the film was made for 3D and that was a softness of focus is scenes exhibiing a lot of depth of field or panoramic views. The first two minutes of the film I found myself believing something was wrong because the vistas and scenery were very soft outside of the central focus of the scene. I would be interested to see how those played in 3D, but not interested enough to pay the higher price.

  • Not Me

    The best film to come out of Dreamworks so far.

    Can’t wait for Pixar’s Wreck it Ralph.

    • JimBob

      Yeah! I sure loved DREAMWORK’S Brave!.. And let’s not forget Studio Ghibli’s Ice Age: Continental Drift, coming soon!

      SO. FREAKING. EXCITED.

    • feep

      hahaha, bravo

    • Zabbot

      Jimbob, I think you’re missing Not-Me’s sarcastic point.

    • Ryan McCulloch

      I thought the EXACT same thing, Not Me

    • Nice try

      For all the fanboys/girls out there still using Dreamworks as synonymous with everything bad, grow up.

      Dreamworks has at least matured as a studio. Pixar is now just as mediocre as everyone else. Deal with it.

      • Albert

        I agree. I think we have gone beyond the point of Dreamworks bad, Disney good a long time ago. Before it was that no Disney movie would ever be painted as a bad movie and Dreamworks was always lagging behind. But Dreamworks has really stepped up their game as of late while Disney movies are on the decline.Even Pixar is losing their edge. They are becoming hit and miss while still thinking this is the 70s and the 80s that they can make anything and use their name alone to push it.Not anymore Disney.

      • The Dude

        Guys… Dreamworks makes great movies… but apart from dragon, they didnt even try to tell original stories in the last couple of years…
        Thats why Pixar (AND Disney… actually disney even more when i look at Paperman) are still Number 1!
        At least they try…

        (Cant wait for all the Cars 2 comments) :-)

      • Personally…

        I guess it comes down to personal preference. I personally don’t care how bizarre the story concept is, as long as the characters are moving the plot and developing along the way. I think Pixar writes themselves into holes where their concept is so wacky they can’t let the characters drive the plot, they turn it into ‘and then THIS HAPPENS!’. They become just a big line of weird events that drag the characters along, sometimes not very believably.

        Which is great if you’re into plot-driven narrative, but it’s not my thing.

        For the most part, Dreamworks lets the characters drive the plot, at least more than Pixar characters tend to.

        The two studios just have different narrative and storytelling styles. I don’t think we have to be childishly grouping them into ‘whose number 1′

      • Not Me

        For the record, I never meant my comment to be interpreted as a Pixar good Dreamworks bad. That thought never crossed my mind.

  • http://artofthecartoon.tumblr.com artofthecartoon

    Great job all the talented artists who worked on Brave. Brave had the familiar feeling of a Disney princess movie while at the same time having that Pixar aura that makes it different from said Disney princess movies. It is not Pixar’s best film however. It’s still the best animated feature this year…as of right now. We’ll see after Wreck-it-Ralph, Rise of the Guardians, ParaNorman, etc come out to see if Brave is still on top.

    • Zabbot

      Really, you are the first person I’ve read that thinks it feels like a Pixar movie.

      • http://ryanrosendal.blogspot.com Ryan

        I’m genuinely surprised by people who don’t think it feels like a Pixar movie. It may have the superficial trappings of a Disney fairytale, but it’s core is Pixar all the way.

      • Bingo

        Exactly. And it’s especially noticeable when they don’t have a wacky concept to hide behind.

      • Emily

        The only evidence I’d be willing to use in an argument against the film being “Pixar at it’s core” would be expertly done storytelling through animation that Pixar excels at. The slightest emotion flicking across a face, the pacing, the music swelling at a certain point- they’ve always known what they’re doing in regards to setting up a story so that it’s as fluid as possible. I’ve seen the movie twice now, and I still catch things that I didn’t before.

        However, I agree. It isn’t Pixar’s best. Before, when asked your favorite Pixar movie, people always seem to have such a hard time deciding. “Oh, Up! Oh, wait, no… no, Finding Nemo was so beautiful- oh no, but then there’s Ratatouille… oh shoot, Toy Story 3! Agh, but Monster’s Inc!! No, Wall-E!!” And then they would just drop to the floor sobbing.

        I wouldn’t say it’s Cars 2 bad. But it isn’t a contender with the visually and emotionally ground breaking films mentioned above.

    • Schultz!!!!!

      The thought occurred to me during the fish scene that there was a Disney animation writer mole on the PIXAR staff.

    • Dannis

      I dunno man, Pirates was pretty damn good.

  • droosan

    I very much enjoyed BRAVE, overall. And LA LUNA was quite charming. But (spoilers follow) –

    I was really bugged by the anachronisms in the scenes at the Witch’s cottage — particularly by the ‘phone message system/Wicker Man festival’ sequence. I can see they were trying to avoid the ‘sinister villainous witch’ trope .. but the mystical tone of the ‘frightening forest’ was completely de-railed by this kooky character .. IMHO.

    Plus, the final resolution that breaks the curse had a bunch of “isn’t that conveeeeeenient” touches; it’s one thing for Merida to be shown hitting multiple targets with arrows on horseback — but (much more impressively) she is apparently -also- able to stitch a tapestry on horseback!! o_O

    Like I said, I loved pretty much everything else about this movie .. and I may not be bothered by these things as much upon a second viewing — now that I know what to expect when Merida opens that cottage door.

    I’d give BRAVE an “A-minus” overall. Which — for some folks — is akin to calling it a failure. Which is absurd.

  • Steve Gattuso

    Just got back from seeing it.

    “La Luna” is a sublime piece of pure joy. It’s evidence that three characters can tell a story without saying a word. Bravo to Enrico Casarosa & his team for continuing Pixar’s tradition of excellent short subjects.

    “Brave” was a film where I knew where I was going but I still enjoyed the ride. Praise for all involved. Gorgeous animation, excellent acting, splendid music. My feeling was that the story was rote in areas, some things didn’t mesh perfectly, and it feel just a little long. I attribute that to the changes in directors & writers that took place mid-way through the production, and to be fair, this is far, far better than things could have gone under the same circumstances.

    By the by, I took this in at a non-3D screening. 3D films give me a headache, even moreso with the new technology. And to be frank, the only part of the entire show that I felt could have used the effect well was the teaser trailer for “Despicable Me 2.”

    P.S.

    Dear Steve Purcell,

    Stop being so damned versatile. It’s going to make the other animators jealous.

    respectfully yours,

    Doodles

  • Zabbot

    ‘Brave’ felt more like the movie that would follow Disney’s ‘Tangled’ than a Pixar movie. As everyone seems to acknowledge the visuals were quite impressive, but I found the art design too dark and depressing. Watching this movie felt like work at times. Additionally I found the music selection schlocky and unpleasant with only a few notable exceptions. The story was nicely burnished slightly skewed cliché after cliché. Overall I’d say this movie was fun to watch once but not something I ever need to see again. I guess that puts ‘Brave’ in company with ‘Bugs Life.’

    And if you do go to see this movie do yourself the favor of staying to the very end after the credits. They saved one of the best scenes for the last. I think it was the only scene in the movie that actually got me to laugh.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Darn! I had to leave since I had some family members with me and they had to leave anyway during the credits like usual (I did see the dedication credit though to a certain person I don’t want to spoil here too, it was nice they did that).

    • Becca

      But… But… A Bug’s Life is fantastic! D: Certainly better than Brave, story-wise.

  • Zabbot

    Oh and I’m sure I’m going against the grain with this comment but I didn’t particularly care for ‘La Luna.’ It felt like a student movie. In fact I vastly preferred ‘Oktapodi’ from several years back and that short was created by a small team of four students. The story was simplistic story and the character design crude resulting in a short that felt decidedly amateurish especially when compared against the likes of ‘Gerry’s Game’ and ‘Presto.’

  • http://www.animationisart.com Philip Wesley

    Well, I saw it at Midnight and also passed out coupons for my store. (Where I have some Brave merchandise.) So, Brave needed to succeed on several levels with me.

    The first level that it needed to succeed at was making Merida an interesting enough character for the audience to like her. (Thus they’ll buy that Brave Monopoly set at the store.) They did succeed at that and I’m happy about that.

    The second level that it needed to succeed at was being a good movie with a good story. Here is where I felt Brave faltered a bit. Everyone reading this should have seen the film and I am going to go into spoiler territory.

    I already knew what the plot points were in the film because of all the merchandise and I was already disappointed by the lack of depth in the story. I was hoping and relying on the film to give me good characterization for the two main characters of Merida and her Mother. I felt that the prologue of the film worked wonderfully. I wanted to see more flashbacks in the film. I want to see MORE about Merida’s mother. I felt they could fix this by adding about 15 to 20 minutes to the film and adding one more sunrise to the two sunrise plot point. Adding one more day would give them time to show increasing tensions at the castle, show the three brothers doing a bit of mischief, add some extra danger with the “demon bear,” and give us a few more flashbacks. I wanted to see more flashback interaction between Merida and her mother. I would have loved some sort of flashback/dream for the mother dealing with Merida’s birth. Hell, I could WRITE THE SCENE FOR THEM. I’d give it two lines of dialogue and we would suddenly have the motivation for Merida’s Mother changing her mind about the arranged marriage. Think about it. They could have added so much to the film by adding a few flashback sequences. The movie was SHORTER than Cars 2. Honestly, SHORTER THAN CARS 2.

    That said, it looks good, the score is excellent, and I felt that it just needed some more characterization to be an excellent film.

    It just needs a small bit more. I would have added one more day. I would have also let Queen Elinor have a flashback dream. It would be her holding an infant Merida with King Fergus near her. She would say: “She has your eyes” and he would say “She has your spirit.” Then they could cut to Elinor as a bear waking up. That’s all they really needed to establish the characters more. We need to see that Merida and her mother are similar in nature in order for their to be a plausible change in both characters.

    But yeah. I’m not a writer for Pixar, nor should I be.

    • Ideas

      Interesting ideas about the flashbacks. Personally, watching the film I was confused with the flashbacks; I didn’t understand what I was supposed to be getting from watching Eleanor and baby Merida. Mother and child has a default setting of ‘aw’. But maybe they should have shown flashbacks of Merida and her mother when they had a positive relationship. And then another when Merida is beginning to decide whether or not she wants to pursue these tomboyish tendencies which upset her mother, and jeopardise a healthy relationship.

      I don’t know anyone not getting along with their mother who says ‘I wish it could be like when I was 2…’

    • dbenson

      Maybe it could have benefitted from a bit more time, but I didn’t think lack of clarity or character was the problem. They were very clear about how seriously Elinor took the problem of peacekeeping, and wasn’t just uptight.

      As for letting Elinor dream, I actually appreciated how they kept outside of here and showed her humanity was slipping away. Even in the inevitable final battle, they had you wondering how much of Elinor was still there.

      Frankly grateful they didn’t feel obliged to throw in a potential boyfriend as a wrapup. In fact, after quietly building up the one Hercules-type guy, we last see him clearly involved with the comic handmaiden.

  • http://www.maryctaylor.com Mary

    Both were were visually beautiful and well animated, as Pixar/Disney films usually are. Loved the story and character development of La Luna. Brave’s story, however, I found to be a bit ho-hum.

    Gotta disagree with Droosan tho, I thought the Witch character and the phone bit added a pretty funny element to the film and I didn’t find it took away from the mystical tone.

  • Calm

    The plot seemed feminist in respect to how it treated the mother-daughter relationship. We’re so used to mother figures being non-present, dead, evil and/or discarded. It was good to see a bond between mother and daughter figures strengthened in the resolution.
    I agree with droosan that the witch seemed out of place, and still kind of cliche. Scottish mythology is so rich, it was disappointing that they did not utilize it more.
    I also wasn’t a fan of the songs. They seemed a little cheesy and unnecessary.
    Overall I liked the film. It wasn’t the best we’ve seen form Pixar, but it was still good.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    I got to see it today during the morning with a family of a mom and her two kids. I’ve enjoyed “La Luna” and enjoyed the clever idea of what the three characters’ roles were and how it visually plays out.

    For “Brave”, I suppose I would agree with Philip that it needed an extra day for the characters to be fleshed out more. The film is fine what is there, but I sorta found myself wanting more out of the backstory and interactions between both the queen and Merida. I think Philip’s additions would’ve been great to have seen executed. As it is, I’ve enjoyed my time in the theaters watching it in 3D (though from the very back row of the cinema) and was impressed at what Pixar could put into those characters and expressions (especially with the queen once she becomes a bear).

  • Chris

    Brave is a frustrating film!

    No other American animation studio would make a movie with a story like this. And I rarely see any movie, animated or otherwise, that is about the mother-daughter dynamic. So I applaud Pixar for trying to do something new.

    But the mother-daughter conflict is half baked. It seems as though the original director and writers ran out of time, or weren’t able to deliver on their premise. Then Pixar asked a new team to come in and make it work… But instead of solving the mother-daughter story, they did the easy thing and added a bunch of schtick to divert the audience’s attention.

    I don’t think much of the comedy was at odds with the story. The comedy and drama were not working together.

    SPOLIERS BELOW

    Once the queen turns into a bear, they treat it as a comedy, for darn’s sake. Just when Merida ought to be really freaking out, and apologizing profusely, her mother/bear is doing stumbling slapstick all over the queen’s bedroom.

    The witch’s answering machine was clever, but out of place. (Did anyone notice she looks a lot like Yubaba?)

    All the fighting clans seemed a bit too funny to take seriously. I didn’t really feel that Merida’s refusal to marry was going to jeopardize anything, because Pixar didn’t take the other clans seriously.

    I think they should have treated the story with more respect. I liked Merida, and really wanted to see her grow up and merge her headstrong nature and her role as princess. But they kind of rushed through it.

    It’s not a bad movie, but not up to their standard.

    Occasionally Pixar gets by on talent and charm alone. Brave is an example.

    • http://dangermancomic.com ben

      I don’t understand the negativity toward the story. I know it may not feel like it was a top notch Pixar film, but I actually think it deserves to be counted among them.
      First, Pixar really broadened their humor to all ages in this one (they have done so before obviously). But, in the theater I was in, there were many different age ranges, and all of them were laughing at the jokes, gasping at certain times, and just enjoying the film. The triplets were just so well done, and added a great comedic element to the story.
      I am a sucker for stories about following your own destiny and controlling your own fate with your actions, so I was intrigued greatly by Brave’s plot. Become who you want to be, not who everyone wants you to be. It may be considered to be a cliche theme, but I feel it always works because it hits close to home.
      As for the story, once again, I felt it was original. I didn’t think the queen would end up being the bear…I thought she was just going to be sick and need something to cure her, making the witch the villain. But I thought the Bear sequences were wonderful, and the animation was truly excellent.
      I’m not a huge Pixar mark to be honest, but I love them for making original films. I was so happy to see they were making a fantasy flick, and the fact that I feel they pulled it off so well made me so happy. Could the film have been longer? Yes, but I feel it would have slowed it down. The thing about some animated movies is, there’s no need for one hundred back-stories, or huge amounts of detail. We got chunks of the story that we needed to keep the bigger plot rolling along. I like when animated films sort of roll on very fast and only slow down for a few minutes. Pixar always has the perfect pace for their films, and Brave is a shining example.
      I understand many don’t believe it was a top Pixar film, but I think a second viewing would change your mind. Sometimes we expect way too much, and don’t realize how good a film truly is (trust me, that has happened to me with movies before).

      • hmmm

        Why is it so baffling that lots of people think Brave was okay but not amazing? Are your tastes so insecure that they need to be in sync with everyone else? Also, it’s interesting that you like films about ‘following your own destiny and controlling your own fate,’ since the existence of destiny and fate means we can’t really control anything. I think you mean you like stories about people making choices that are at odds with the powers that be. Which probably includes 98% of all movies made.

        You also seem to think this film is unusual for Pixar, since it’s a fantasy film. Don’t you think every single Pixar film exists in a fantasy world? Sentient toys? Anthropomorphic bugs and fish and rats and cars? Talking, flying dogs? Superheros and robots with genders who fall in love? I’d say Brave is more grounded in the real world than any film Pixar has ever done!

        I enjoyed Brave, and it’s a well made film, but I wasn’t entertained enough the first time through to consider taking your advice and sitting through it again.

    • Joe G

      Yeah,the witch design has the Miyazaki influence.

      • brubis

        I thought the witch seemed inspired by the witch in “The Thief and the Cobbler” in both design and personality.

  • Ethan

    I thought it was really great. Really fun characters. Great animation. Beautiful visuals. All these reviewers saying its not “Pixar enough,” aren’t reviewing it for the right reasons. It definitely isn’t their best movie, but a great improvement after Cars 2. Certainly showed that the studio isn’t afraid of unfamiliar territory in storytelling. showed that there’s a rediculous amount of talent at the studio.

    A-

  • Dan L.

    While it isn’t likely to enter my Pixar Top 5, I thoroughly enjoyed Brave. But with La Luna, while I liked it, I didn’t love it.

  • eeteed

    just got back from seeing the films.

    “la luna” was a wonderful little film. charming, enchanting, endearing, and magical.

    after a brief intro “brave” starts out with narration narration narration. we still don’t know everything we need to, so the story hurries along fast fast to get us up to speed. the problem with this is (of course) that we should spend the beginning of the film getting to know and care about the characters, not getting story crammed into our heads.
    after the Evelyn Wood intro things slow down and are fine.
    i liked the witch, but felt she needed better development. why did she have a bear fetish? why did she choose woodworking as a second career choice (i know why she left the witch biz, but not a clue why she took up whittling bears).
    my favorite part of the film was the scene in which the boys snitch the plate of tarts during the competition.

    in the end i felt “brave” was okay, but needed story work. i never really laughed, nor cried, nor was scared during this film.

  • lee wal.

    I really went to see La Luna which really made the whole 7 dollars worth it..A outstanding story done visually and I also like Brave,it had some great parts and the 3 d worked well.The witch was the best part and the escape with the kilts was funny..

  • Val

    Like a lot of people have already said, it was visually gorgeous. I couldn’t stop looking at that hair especially. But in most other respects… it just wasn’t what I had hoped for. First of all, I find it a shame that THIS is what had to be Pixar’s “first film with a woman as the lead!”. I wish the directors/writers didn’t feel the need to blatantly point out the fact that the female lead is a female. The mother’s excessive dialogue such as “a princess is this” and “a princess is that” made it so obvious that the film was mainly trying to defy gender stereotypes. Can’t a female lead be strong without needing this to be the focus? The fact that women have a voice should not be made so blatant: a message more subtle and subconsciously understood should have been at the heart of this film, with a plot to go with it that WASN’T so obvious and cliched. And even though Brave really did try to show this disparity in how women/men are viewed, it wasn’t successful. This film felt like a man’s film. I felt, the entire time I was watching it, that it was made by a bunch of dorky male animators having fun. For example: the fight scene among the warriors. And twice! The humour lacked taste and was very masculine. It should not have felt this way– it felt as though it was a woman’s conflict told through a man’s perspective.. and it just didn’t work.

    I also felt as though they tried to throw in obstacles for the main character carelessly. The structure of the film felt forced, not natural. The plot was not thought through thoroughly enough to capture the emotional depth of Pixar’s other films. There wasn’t one scene where I truly felt for the character in her struggle– it was just too manufactured of a storyline.

    And what I really hated was the nearly slapstick humour common in many modern animated films. There was an overabundance of comedy for the kids, but little true wit. Usually for Pixar, the opposite is true.

    Ultimately Brave was entertaining, but nothing new. The plot was a little quirky, but the message was wasted. I hope female leads won’t be the end for Pixar though– maybe next time they’ll get it right.

    • Zabbot

      I couldn’t disagree more. Pixar is generally a group of dorky guys who have given this world some of the greatest films of the last 20 years. Reviews like yours make one wonder why they even bother trying. They’re damned if they don’t and apparently just as damned if they do.

      • Val

        @Zabbot: I think you’ve missed my point– I love Pixar as a whole, but this particular film didn’t accomplish much in my opinion. I knew I was taking a risk saying “made by a bunch of dorky male animators” but I don’t mean that in a derogatory way; I mean that a story featuring a mother-daughter relationship didn’t feel handled by the right gender based on what I saw in the film. Pretty much what Jacob said below: the film didn’t feel personal to the director. If you’re making a film featuring a mother-daughter relationship, it should be directed by a mother! Otherwise it falls flat.
        And I don’t mean to completely denigrate Pixar’s efforts. It’s great that they’re finally featuring a female as the lead, and I’m glad, but why did the movie, as a whole (not even in regards to the feminist stance) have to be so disappointing for a film that’s trying to make a statement? I’m not giving up on Pixar entirely though. I just can’t wait for them to get this whole gender thing right. Then again, maybe society’s at fault as well.

      • Zabbot

        Again, couldn’t disagree more. Using your rationale ‘The Hurt Locker’ would never have been made. For all we know the movie could have been even worse under the direction of Ms. Chapman.

      • Doug

        As a wholly owned subsidiary of a large multi-national corporation, Pixar is careful to follow state and national guidelines that requires them to hire dorky animators of both genders.

    • Chelsea

      I partially agree with your comments about the film feeling ‘forced’ as ‘The First Pixar Movie With a Female As The LEAD’. But I also want to step up in their defense and say…

      I do think that their extreme lack of female leads before Brave was a rather unfortunate accident. I certainly don’t think it was out of any disdain for women. It is just a sad fact that sometimes, lapses in equality happen, and I’m glad Pixar is trying to mend the 12-film lapse. But a 12-film lapse is a 12-film lapse… that is a lot of ground to ‘make up’. The first first female lead of Pixar has always been destined to stand out as “THE FIRST FEMALE LEAD” because of the fact that she’s going to stand beside 12 brothers. It is very similar to the predicament of Princess and the Frog, which was also said by many to pander too much to it’s Black audience. Really, everyone was going to complain about how this film was done even if it could have been done ‘perfectly’ without stepping on people’s toes.

      THAT SAID, I do agree that the film could have pandered LESS to the female audience, and think that the “LOOK WOMEN, WATCH THIS MOVIE ABOUT A WOMAN” marketing was especially annoying… but so far as I know the people in the story room did not create the marketing strategy so I don’t wholly blame Pixar’s creative team for that. To my understanding that frustration should be blamed on Disney’s marketing department.

      All in all I think Pixar did a good job with a very hard task that they were never going to get right on the first try, esp. with how much anticipation was held for this movie’s release from very specific groups of people. I think this movie deserves to succeed, but also believe it deserves a lower ‘rating’ than Pixar’s usual- right now I’m thinking a B-ish on an A-F scale.

      I hope that this film was the ice-breaker, the ‘obligatory’ “OKAY PEOPLE WE MAKE MOVIES WITH GIRLS TOO” milestone, that means in the future making a female-led movie will be much less awkward and hopefully less forced.

      • Tatiana Riabouchinska

        You hit it on the head — overcompensation. We get it, we get it. We get that all the male characters in the film are caricatures and partial or total idiots and the two female leads are near perfect — and once they resolve their sole flaw, they are completely perfect.

        Merida’s expression when she was presented with the suitors was enough to express her feelings, but then the sledgehammers never stopped beating on our heads. The message, which is in every animated film with a female made in the last decade, is the same. But in Merida’s case, unlike say, Mulan, her reasoning is completely self-centered. There’s a difference between being independent and strong and being selfish.

        She poisons her mother and watches her go into convulsions, possibly die, all the while, goading her into giving in, not showing the slightest remorse. She denies any blame while chaos ensues (yes, I know her character has to “arc”, but her denial and attitude make her difficult to root for).

        When the arc comes, it doesn’t come naturally from character. Neither mother nor daughter seem to have convincingly reached the change they make.

        Merida apologizes, finally, but ultimately gets everything she wants, despite the devastating things she did to her mother, her family, her country and the young people watching who may be led to believe that end justifies the means. Her mother gets to ride horses with her and the issues of relationships, personal and political — abruptly disappear.

        This isn’t about strong female figures. Strength isn’t being willful and self centered. Why is the stereotypical Hollywood “strong woman” all about “Me-Me-My-My” and not about integrity, love and sacrifice (Mulan again)?

        Clearly this was a very difficult film to make, with story problems that weren’t so much solved as dictated. Just like the anachronistic (and soon to be dated) witch joke making fun of phone call options that may change in a year, this may be Pixar’s most “of its time” feature.

        Would love to know what the film would have been like had so many 2012 social points had to be wedged in rather than really telling a fantastic story in this glorious setting.

      • Chelsea

        I would agree that Merida is probably one of the least appealing Pixar characters, and I’m including Lightning McQueen and Mater in that statement. At least Mater is a sweetheart.

        Merida ‘learns her lesson’ but she was a very frustrating character to watch for the first half of the movie. I understand she is a whiny teenager, and I had a phase in which I was quite selfish… but I never resorted to poison, and if I had made a wish that my mother would change I at least would have been intelligent enough to specify the terms.

        If Merida was an intelligent young girl (as the movie seems to want us all to believe) with just the flaw of selfishness, it is really difficult to believe she would only ask a witch to ‘change things up!!!’, not how or when.

        At least Ariel knew what she wanted and what she was getting. : |

  • Ryan McCulloch

    Unlike most comments I’ve read, I actually preferred the second half of The movie with all the magic than the first half with the archery tournament. I was a tad bored at the beginning because it all felt like set up to what the meat of the story was. I loved the witch and her crow. Great characters who needed way more screen time, as well as the triplet cubs. Way underused. Loved the tag after the credits.

  • http://elioliart.com Some Girls

    Basing our merits on a scale from a regular animated film to Pixar…wait..what?

    We got out of this film what we should expect from a GOOD film. So, it was a success! Humor, a good story, action, and heart.

    Can’t believe people are actually basing this film on a Pixar scale, when people should learn to treat any animated film as its own. Don’t ride on the studios streak, hoping it to be as good or better than the last. Anything can happen and it should be expected that not every film is going to meet up to YOUR standards, let alone the critics. (Cars 2 …) If you do expect so much, you will be dissapointed…a lot.

    As a whole, one film, or even 10 films holding a streak of critical success shouldn’t doom the next film because it presents a different set of characters/situations , especially Brave, which stirred a lot of commotion. If it presents an entirely different approach, you can assure that there will be tons of uncertainy…

    And why do people have to say…”It was a great DreamWorks film”!
    Oh hush!
    There have been some good DW films. Sure, many don’t hold the critical success of Pixar’s , but that shouldn’t be taken as an insult. I find it rather as a good thing. Pixar is taking a different route (in whatever department you guys feel like it’s lacking in “Pixarness”.)
    Atleast for this one anyway.

    Well, that depends if liked the story aspect or not.

    And honestly, this whole mother/daughter thing is blowing way out of proportion! My goodness, this isn’t supposed to be some mellow drama! This is a film for ALL ages, yes, that means children too you grown-ups! It was played out in a fashion that was serious enough, but tame for the younger audience. It was rather amusing for the mother’s drastic change. Her poise and grace took a turn for the worst, exposing her more , less hgh strung side, and allowed her to see Merida as what she is.

    Sure, the movie isn’t perfect, like all films will never be. But it was a really good film. And not putting the Pixar label on it, but recieved it with an open mind.

    There must be something wrong with us then. We enjoyed the movie alot. But then again, this is CB. Pretty sure the rest of the world isn’t so picky.

    As for La Luna, it was very charming, but not quite up to par for a theatrical short IMHO. ( note, that I didn’t say a Pixar short).
    Do agree about it seeming like a student film, but that could have been do to the simplicity of the art direction/character designs that most student films are known to produce, and for obvious reasons..

    So, like always, respecting other people’s opinion, blah blah blah. As you can tell, not really a professional reviewer here. Ah, who cares.

    Brave was awesome.

  • http://www.dfdean.com David D

    I think I would take the “female heroine” concept more seriously if there were ANY other females within the visiting clans.

    Basically I didn’t think the comedy was very funny. I’m not used to the slapstick bonks, goofy facial reactions, and painless collisions in a Pixar film, and when the biggest audience responses in the film involve naked butts, something is amiss.

    • Chelsea

      ha, you make an EXTREMELY good point. Why were Merida, her mother, and the background castle staff the only women in this movie about female empowerment?

      • http://elephantmarch.blogspot.com William Bradford

        Well, i think that the film wasn’t at any point meant to be about “female empowerment”, but simply a film starring strong female characters. I think the trailers made it seem a bit like that, though.

      • Zabbot

        I believe this was done for clarity’s sake. Similar to when a scene is lit the elements you want the audience to focus on are usually more brightly lit to create a natural contrast your eye is drawn to. In the case of ‘Brave’ the two central female characters are spotlighted or made to stand out by virtue of the stark contrast between them and the background of painfully idiotic male characters. To introduce other strong female characters would only distract from the focus of the film.

        Personally, I find the practice of elevating female characters by degrading the supporting male characters a tedious and increasingly offensive practice in popular culture. It is as if Hollywood truly believes that male-female interactions are an actual “battle” in a zero sum game. This is an old trope that has more than worn out its welcome.

      • Lupin

        I never thought this film was suppose to be about female empowerment. I just saw it as a mother daughter relationship with the old ways versus the new, but I do agree that they went out of their way to make all men in the movie look pugnacious and moronic in comparison to their female counterparts. I definitely agree with Zabbot’s statement above. If movies can only prove the argument that women are better than men by building up strawman farce characters of them and then having the ‘strong’ female characters tear them down then that’s really just kind of immature, sad, and missing the point completely. As for the movie I’d really love to know what Mark Andrews was left with before he had the job of looking at it with a fresh pair of eyes. I heard that there were things he wanted to do in the film but couldn’t, do to assets that had to be used and having it be too late in the process to make new ones. I would love to see both Brenda and Mark do their own films from beginning to end, because it’s hard to say where one influence starts and the other begins.

  • Kartoonz Kritik

    An incredibly beautiful experiment.
    Each of the PIXAR films is a stretching of sorts of wings – sometimes it’s in the technology – textures were a big one for Monsters Inc.
    Here, it feels like the experiment was in tone. WALL-E , RATATOUILLE, and UP pushed that envelope, but BRAVE is easily, and by far, the darkest and most “adult” PIXAR film yet.
    BRAVE left behind all the pretensions of saccharine, fisher-price type of kiddie fare of TOY STORY, BUG’S LIFE, MONSTERS INC., or CARS.
    At points BRAVE even touches upon being terrifying.

    In that I believe the film is one that excludes families with very young children which PIXAR has catered to very well in the past, it will be interesting to see how it performs at the box office, and over the long term.

    So the PIXAR experiment here (and throughout their recent releases) with tone feels like a pre-meditated movement of American animated films toward a hopeful broader audience and being thought of something more than “kiddie fare”.

    I had the pleasure of screening La Luna early last year, and found it as captivating now as I did seeing it the first time around.

    • Mr. James

      I completely agree with your assessment of Pixar pushing the dark/adult level of the film. I was pleasantly surprised by how many “skin” jokes were in this one. Naked behinds, buxom bosoms, and cleavage jokes would normally not have been very PC in a Disney fairy tale movie (which all the critics seemed to want to compare Brave with), or previous Pixar films either..
      Aside from that, the film was highly entertaining and after seeing it I compare it to one of my all-time favorite Disney movies, “The Sword In The Stone”. Was that one of Disney’s best animated features of all time?! Heck no! Was it just as entertaining, visually appealing, and have some of the same magical/whimsical qualities as Brave? Yes!

      • Dave

        “buxom bosoms, and cleavage jokes would normally not have been very PC in a Disney fairy tale movie”

        The sequence with the witches in The Black Cauldron had blatant buxom bosom/cleavage jokes way back in 1985.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ak0XScCOYZs

  • http://www.sibsy.blogspot.com Sabrina

    @Zabbot: I didn’t much care for La Luna also, you’re not alone. It was predictable and I was just waiting for it to end to be honest.

    Brave, like most of what I’ve read on here…my opinion is the same. It was just okay for me. Although I didn’t find it “rushed” I found I just didn’t FEEL anything overall. I was never truly happy or sad or scared for the characters.

    It wasn’t terrible, but nothing to write home about either.

  • purin

    I liked it a lot. I just eat up this sort of legendary/mythological kinda thing with mysterious supernatural elements that don’t go entirely explained. So, it was my kinda thing to begin with. I’ve been wanting a movie like this for some time.

    I think the movie made its issues work. Merida’s situation is legit even if she is very privileged, and yet she is also not entirely innocent when it comes to expressing herself or trying to get her way. We can root for her because she wants control of her life, but it’s pretty clear when she crosses the line into very, very selfish territory (seriously, not even worried that she might have poisoned her mother attempting to take her free will away?). Even the royal family is more relatable, since they seem to come from warrior background and are trying to be more settled down now, giving their children a life they didn’t have.

    I also liked how the bear transformation was more than just in body, with that risk of forever losing your humanity if you’re not careful. It’s more meaningful than just sticking a character’s brain into an animal body and having humanized animals the whole way through. I think this movie’s bear transformation story has a good element of what Brother Bear, which could have been so much more than it was, should have had.

    I also have been waiting a long time for a mainstream American movie to have a magical plot device providing character who was neutral, with no ulterior motives. I particularly loved the witch. Why did the spell Merida bought work that way? The witch is kinda nuts, and she just really, really loves bears. I loved that bit about the “wicker man festival.” I actually loved her answering machine. Out of place, yeah, but when you’re the magical character, you can get away with it to an extent.

    La Luna really was something lovely to watch unfold. Kind of silly to put it in words, but it was very charming to see it happen, while wondering what they heck they were doing the whole time until the reveal. I kept thinking of Super Mario Galaxy while watching it.

  • Some Girls

    Just on a side note, my comment about the DW saracsam wasn’t directed torwards anyone (although it was mentioned here),but I have seen it being said in other various outlets, and it’s just getting a little old now.

  • Anthony D.

    I myself quite enjoyed and there were quite a few moments that made me laugh though I must admit took a while to understand through the Scottish accents (forgive me). Never the less, great movie. Pixar is back in the game and all’s well! ^_^

  • BT

    I agree with the general consensus: an enjoyable and beautiful-to-look-at movie, though not as original or moving as I’ve come to expect from Pixar especially after they did Wall-E/Up/Toy Story in a row. Of course it’s a huge step up from Cars 2, the only Pixar movie that I didn’t like at all.

    My question is: why did they change the title from The Bear and the Bow? It doesn’t really matter, but it’s kind of weird. The original title has a better ring to it, is less generic and also describes the movie better. I don’t understand why they thought Brave was a good title at all, and it weakened the ending by making it seem like the narration was just put on there to make the title have some significance.

    • Funkybat

      The title change might not have even been Pixar’s idea, but Disney. There seems to be a general trend in “children’s films” the past couple of years to go for one or two-word titles. I still think of “Tangled” as “Rapunzel Unbraided.” The change in that case was (from what I hear) an attempt to bring in more boys to what Disney feared would be pegged as another “girl’s movie” like “Princess & the Frog” apparently was.

      Now lots of other studios are doing it, though I think it’s kind of pointless and needlessly limiting. “The Bear and the Bow” is just as masculine-sounding a title as “Brave,” so in this case it was probably just ease of marketing. It may have also been a kind of psychological dividing line between what Brenda Chapman initially set out to make, and what we saw on the screen today, a la “American Dog” vs. “Bolt.”

      • Chris

        The reason why many American movies have very simple titles is so that the title can be understood or recognized by the international market. Remember, American movies are making more money than ever in foreign countries like Russia, Germany, and I think even China.

        So no more witty wordplay titles like “Start The Revolution Without Me,” or “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”

        If “National Lampoon’s Animal House” was released nowadays, it would be titled something generic like “College Guys.”

      • Funkybat

        Time was, they would use some alternate title in the native language for overseas releases that were in countries where English wasn’t at least somewhat common. At least this trend seems confined to animated films and more mass-market live action fare. Smaller movies still seem to be willing to go with long, even convoluted titles, e.g. “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.”

      • droosan

        Pixar has -always- opted for super-short generic-sounding movie titles: TOY STORY .. CARS .. UP.

        It’s entirely possible that the Pixar Brain Trust found the title THE BEAR AND THE BOW somewhat unweildy and cumbersome. I mean, at -five- whole words, it’s almost twice as long as Pixar’s longest (and -most- generic movie title: A BUG’S LIFE.

  • Chelsea

    I would summarize this movie as:

    Pixar’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ with bears instead of merfolk, a Mother-Daughter relationship rather than a Father-Daughter relationship, and thank goodness there is NO marriage as the ‘happy ending’.

    It did feel cliche in many parts but my relating it to The Little Mermaid isn’t an insult. It took the concept that a lot of people universally loved, and reminded people that good love stories don’t need to end in a chapel. A good love story can be about loving one’s family, one’s parents, and oneself.

    I really enjoyed the movie, and think it was well-done for the most part. I do have my issues and complaints but ultimately, I do think it was a good movie.

  • Toby

    *PROBS SPOILERS IN HERE*

    So yes, Brave looked amazing and it wasn’t terrible (I thought the music was a little bit terrible though).

    I felt like Brave is as much a story about Mother and Daughter conflict as it is a story about a generational conflict. In that sense I would have appreciated some more on the perspective of Merida’s three prospective husbands. They were being forced into marriage as much as she was. To have them quickly just chime in at the end and say “We don’t agree with the marriage either” feels tacked on and lazy. A little more fleshing out of their characters (and relationship with own parents) would have gone a long way. I felt like they were mostly depicted as simple caricatures.

    Also, the obvious bond that Merrida and her Father shared throughout the first half of the movie lost much of it’s meaning for me in the second half.

    In general I feel the movie covered the same ground a little too much and didn’t use each scene to tell us something new. Also didn’t feel as though it had the escalation and urgency that one would expect from an epic landscape under threat from being engulfed in war.

    P.S. As nice as the moment was, If I was told I had two sunrises before my mother’s bear-state was permanent, I would NOT waste a morning chilling out in a river teaching my bear-mum how to catch fish.

  • http://trentanimation.blogspot.com Trent

    A great film, entertaining from start to finish. Easy on the eyes, and some funny bits.

    I love how the trailer gives nothing away, well done!

    Slow clap for pixar introducing a little PG 13 nudity.

    THe bottom line is, it was entertaining. It had Pixar heart, some of the best human animation and acting and the hair was unreal.

    Bravo!

    • http://www.jeandenis.net Jean-Denis Haas

      The trailer gave tons away!

      *Spoilers*

      The immediate spoiler is that the triplets will turn into bears at one point. So it’s not far fetched to think that it’s a family thing, probably the mother, since the mother-daughter conflict is a central theme in the movie. Then you see Merida jump away from a bear towards another bear, so there must be two bears, one good, one bad. So we have mother bear and an unknown bear, which, once the movie starts, you know will be the fourth guy from the chess piece sequence (which was a cool sequence), since that was the only “bad guy” set up in the movie. Even the blanket over the mother at the end is set up by the “you’re not naked” scene!

      All in all, totally predictable movie. I just have to stop watching trailers… but that’s so hard!

      • http://www.jeandenis.net Jean-Denis Haas

        I watched it a second time (I really wanted to hear the new Dolby Atmos system) and I have to say it was a lot better. Beautiful work in it and once you accept that it’s a slapstick movie and go with that in mind, I enjoyed it a lot.

  • matt

    Did anyone else see the pizza planet truck on the witches table for a second ?

    • Zabbot

      Good eyes, I completely missed that. You probably caught Pinocchio in the Snugly Duckling too.

      On a related note, where was John Ratzenberger in this one?

      • Andrew Kieswetter

        I think he was the voice of the guard who announced the arrival of the clans before they burst in. It sounded like his voice a little.

  • John

    To me this film felt like it was just the bare of the bones of a story. It just rushed to quickly through it. It felt empty, like the filler was taken out of it, to make a tighter, less interesting, shorter/quicker movie. Oh well here’s my complaints.

    The witch turns people into bears, but why bears? They should of elaborated more on back story of the Prince (that was turned into the bear), that would of been interesting. The heroine reuniting later with the witch to tell us that story would of been even more if that happened. It was hinted that the Prince lived a long time ago and that nobody remembers the names of those that lived. That was a long time ago, how come the witch is still alive? Why did the wisps want all of this to be resolved, why do they come to do all of this?

    I think there should of been more going on in the middle of the story between mother and daughter to resolve their differences than just playfully fishing for trout. There should of been a moment of resolve between mother and daughter.

    The scene with all the clans battling in the great hall was a bit stupid, where no one was killed or injured. Where only the table tops got hurt. I was expecting that they’d go all out to war over Merida refusing to marry any of their sons. I expected before going to this movie that Merida was an offering to their sons to keep peace in the land. That would of been more interesting.

    The three triplets don’t talk, I guess it’s easier to write characters that don’t talk!

    In the end it felt like the gave us the meat and potatoes without the gravy.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      The fight certainly felt very Asterix-ish.

  • http://www.base14.com Tyler K.

    *Spoilers Obviously*

    The cold opening got me really excited for a great film. But as soon as Merida began explaining everything to us the movie slowed down.

    As it continued the film often seemed lost; it couldn’t decide when we’re supposed to be laughing and when we’re supposed to take things seriously. I think the feelings others are having about not feeling sad or happy or scared is not for lack of jokes and drama, but more so for how they were run together all too often.

    Inner thinking and rationales seemed unexplored. Rather than adding another day to the story, I think it would have benefited from being condensed. Why did the characters stop to rest? Stop to fish? The clock was ticking and they seemed unconcerned.

    If they had continued trying to find the unhex, it would eliminate additional plot holes, like no one noticing the queen missing or the wandering bear cubs. Heck if the men had not been locked in the tower, but had spent the entire second act chasing Merida and her mother through the woods, that would have stepped up the tension even more.

    Fortunately it pulled a lot together in the last ten minutes. I thought the scene where the mother changed back was right on the mark.

    The other thing I really liked and applaud is that his princess didn’t find a “true love” by the end. She was fine just being herself and didn’t need romance to complete her life. Now THAT’S pretty unique for a Disney-backed film.

  • http://elephantmarch.blogspot.com William Bradford

    Hahha Ok, NOW i’ve seen it. Personally, i thought the plot-changing element you’re referring to, though familiar in a way the other fairy tale trappings weren’t, nonetheless added enough inspired touches (the moments of losing “her” and the danger and threat of that) to avoid making it feel like a lazy repeat.

    The films pacing is a bit funny at times, very broad one minute and very subtle the next; not to a point where it ruins it but can feel a bit shaky at times. This is particularly apparent when the magic is bold and brash at times and then becomes subtle and mysterious, making times when I KNOW I missed something. Still, funny, sincere and absolutely GORGEOUS. And more in minor ways then major, an expansion of Pixar’s Palette. Not quite Ratatouille or Toy story 3, but still a great movie.

  • Matt Sullivan

    beutiful to look at. Story…eh….meh. But still good.

  • http://www.michaelspornanimation.com/splog/ michael sporn

    Having Merida shout “Shut it!” to silence everyone in the room pulled me right out of the 13th century and into 2012. This happens several time. Anachronisms are a problem with people who are writing for animtion these days. Can’t they stay true to the world the characters live in? I don’t quite understand the difficulty except for immature writing.

    The film’s a visual stunner showing us where cgi is going. The story is absorbing for the first hour or so; then it turns to animation clichés.

    A very fine effort with a bad title that had nothing to do with the film.

    • http://www.shoomlah.com Claire Hummel

      Well for one, the film’s supposed to be set in the 10th century. And beyond that, the historical popularity of kilts is largely an invention of the 19th century. If you’re going to be a stickler for historical accuracy, it seems weird to cherry pick and just point out the dialogue; having her say “shut it” is arguably more realistic than trying to approximate appropriate medieval tone and vocabulary.

    • TheDoctorJones

      the witch’s “answering machine” was another example of a lazy anachronism….immediately took me right out of the story. writing like that seems more at home in a straight-to-DVD Shrek sequel, but it looks like Pixar has finally fallen in line with the lesser competition.

  • Steve M.

    La Luna: It was ok, but didn’t care too much for it.

    Brave: Well, it’s a very mixed bag. First the good stuff, the artwork is fantastic, the main character is great, and the first several minutes are nice.

    On the bad stuff, (Spoiler Alert!) Right around when Queen Elinor get turned into a bear, the movie becomes almost painfully perdictable. It’s a shame a movie with this much potential got saddled with a Bother Bear scenario. Also, I feel there could of been much more to the scenes with Merida and Elinor. And like Philip Wesley said, this could of used more flashbacks.

    So overall, A great looking movie that falls disappointtingly short, though I still like it.

  • http://adreamer49.wordpress.com/ Jacob

    I think there can be little denying that Brave is not as strong as Pixar’s usual. It’s not because the film doesn’t have the outstanding animation, beautiful visuals, and fantastic humor we have come to expect from the Pixar studios. What the movie does not quite have is a powerful soul.

    The heart of the movie is the mother daughter relationship. I believe the person who really understood that was taken off of the project. I don’t know if this was something that needed to happen or not. But Mark Andrews did not embrace the concept in as personal a way. The reason why I think a lot of people have a problem with the songs is not because they didn’t sound nice, but rather because they felt like a cop out. We get the story of traditional mother and the rebellious young youth, but the story doesn’t go into much detail on why those things are important to the characters. It just seemed to be that Andrews thought the mother was always criticizing her daughter on how to be proper because that is just what mothers do. He seemed to think that Merida was rebellious because that is just how teens are. It wasn’t this personal thing to Andrews, the way the son/father relationship in Finding Nemo was personal to Andrew Stanton and family relationship in The Incredibles was personal to Brad Bird. Because these things were not as personal the film didn’t end up really saying anything new and fell in the category of “cliche” for many people.

    The movie was very enjoyable to watch. But it didn’t really speak to me in the way so many Pixar movies in the past have. It didn’t hit on that magic that reminds me why I want to spend the rest of my life pursuing movie making. I don’t think it was because Mark Andrews is a bad director. I just think he wasn’t able to own it the way he needed to.

    • kwert

      Now that I’ve seen the film, I’m very interested in finding out what Chapman’s “creative differences” were from the team.

      • http://adreamer49.wordpress.com/ Jacob

        There is a very good chance we will never know. I was way more on board with trusting Pixar before Cars 2 honestly. John Lasseter claimed that he would never let a mediocre film out of Pixar studios. Well, Cars 2 reeked of mediocrity and was director by Lasseter himself, thus really hurting my faith in John Lasseter and Pixar. Brenda Chapman has proven herself before in the area of story. She has also had director status before. I think as much as Lasseter claims he runs a Director driven studio, it’s really the brain trust that calls the final shots. Yes, Lasseter has said the directors gets to choose what notes from the brain trust they listen to and what they don’t. But if the brain trust doesn’t think a movie is working they will step in and change things. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Lasseter along with the rest of the Brain Trust are very creative people.

        My best guess is Brenda presented a much more messy and personal story. She was dealing with personal conflict between parents and their children. Andrews described a lot of the problem as things getting in the way of the meat of the story. I am sure he created a story that was much more clear, with a faster pace, and most likely a broader audience range. But the big question I have is, did he lose some of the things that might have made that story unique and personal in the way many of the other Pixar movies are? Do realize Pete Docter and Andrew Stanton had much more conventional storylines as their first films before embarking on their ambitious second projects. A 200+ million dollar project holds a lot of stress and responsibility. Brenda could have just bitten off more then she could chew or she could have just been to ambitious with her first project for Pixar. We will never really know.

        All I know is that if I put my soul into a project only to have it be taken away, I would be extremely hurt and angry.

      • http://www.animationinsider.net Cody

        It doesn’t seem like there’s too much bad blood on Brenda’s part. Surely she wanted to complete the film her way, with her as the director – but despite all the changes and despite being removed from the project she’s still talking/thanking people for seeing it and even attended the premiere with the rest of the Pixar gang. It all could be just a “smile and wave” sort of deal – but how would that benefit her when, if she was really deeply wounded, all she would have to do is remove herself from the conversation entirely – like Chris Sanders did after American Dog.

      • http://adreamer49.wordpress.com/ Jacob

        One of the reasons I think there is bad blood between Brenda and Pixar is because nobody really has talked about the change and why it really was needed. And believe me I have looked. I think Andrews is a friend to Brenda and he tried to stay true to the heart of what Brenda wanted it to be about. Brenda I believe has enough that she likes about the film to comment on it and thank others for working on it. But that does not mean she was okay with being taken off or she wasn’t hurt. I am thinking that within these past 18 months she has been able to reflect and accept things as the way they are. Just because she is not happy with the people who took her off the directors chair does not mean she needs to be angry at the people who helped finish the movie. But then again, none of us really knows.

  • KAT

    I think people are nitpicking way too much. Brave was a good, strong film. I was one of the people who was expecting it to not be good because of all of the controversy behind it, they way they showcased and designed some of the characters and film, and because previous Pixar films were not as strong, or were sequels that depended on the successes of the first movies, but in the end Brave did surprise me.
    Honesty, I don’t remember people nitpicking this much when UP came out, and that movie was very flawed (only the first 10 minutes were good).

    Also La Luna was very lovely. I loved the cinematography and how it ended.

  • MadRat

    I haven’t seen Brave but I did see La Luna along with the other nominees for the Oscar’s Animated Short category. I think the above criticism is a little harsh. While I didn’t see anything in La Luna that had never been done before, it really is a great little cartoon and a work of art. It would be easy to imagine that La Luna would be the runner up if the Oscars had them.

  • Nick Name

    I enjoyed Brave a lot more than I expected to. Brilliantly animated, beautifully designed, and funny. It’s a comedy, not a drama, despite the standard dramatic elements. A great witch, inventive designs, and enough visual excitement for another film or two. A lot of fun. And the queen as a bear was really well done.
    On the other hand, La Luna (which somehow I had seen twice before) didn’t do much for me. Cute, but vacant, in my opinion.
    I saw it with the new Dolby Atmos sound system. Definitely a big step up in sound design, putting you in the middle of the sound field. Very cool.

  • http://www.dfdean.com David D

    Did anyone else hear a bowling pin sound effect when Fergus landed on the other lords? This is part of what I was complaining about in regards to the uncharacteristic-for-Pixar broadness of the comedy, of which the “answering-machine-cauldron” is the most glaring example; I’d expect a joke like that in a Shrek film.

    • Gobo

      This, I will agree on. I expected some wacky slapstick from the trailers, but was happy that most of the movie was free from any pop-culture DreamWorks/Shrek stuff… but then the answering machine kettle popped up. Very dated joke, and not funny enough in any case.

  • Glen

    Liked it–didn’t love it. The scenes between the mother and daughter were terrific. The fighting and the clans stuff was barely perfunctory, as well as poorly staged and choreographed–confusing. The wild shifts in tone show a clear lack of strong direction or even a basic understanding of dramatic storytelling–sure sign of a weak director.

    But the core story was pretty good. Brenda Chapman’s choice to cast Kelly Macdonald was perfect, and the scenes of Merida as a young child were charming.

    The music score was so-so, although the songs were really awful–muzak. When I saw relic Chris Montan’s name in the credits, I understood why. Disney really needs to put someone good in charge of their music division.

    The design of the film and all technical aspects are stellar. The film’s designer, Steve Pilcher, has created a world so beautifully realized and textural, My jaw was frequently on the floor in amazement. The lighting captured the misty light of the Scottish Highlands perfectly.

    The animation is at times outstanding, and at times barely passable. This surprised me a lot.

    I’m glad I saw it in the non-stereoscopic form. I can’t imagine the films darkness playing well with those glasses on ( like httyd)

    • Greg Ehrbar

      Totally disagree about the music – it was one of the best things about the movie, totally rising to the level of the magnificent visuals. Cheap shot at Montan — and indirectly at Patrick Doyle.

      • Glen

        The score was mush. Not awful, just nothing very special, and hardly worthy of the visuals. And montan has been there at Disney far too long. His taste in music and song is well behind the times and just as bland as always. Hardly a cheap shot–just the truth.

      • Greg Ehrbar

        C’mon. Hardly the truth. You’re entitled to your subjective opinion, but not the ownership of truth.

      • http://danielmaraya.blogspot.com DannyAraya

        I have to agree with Glen, I thought the score really hurt the movie.

      • Greg Ehrbar

        Again, whether anyone likes the score or not is a valid personal opinion, but no excuse at all for cheap shots at people. Many loved the score, myself included.

  • Gobo

    I quite enjoyed Brave on many levels. Gorgeous to watch, yes — it sets a new high bar for CG, much less Pixar — but I’d also argue that it’s tightly written, nicely paced, and a fun & charming film.

    Was it a bit predictable? Sure, because I’ve seen tons of other movies, just like everyone else here. It wasn’t really a surprising story. If you’ve seen the bevy of Disney and Ghibli movies, you’ll know what’s coming. I’m not convinced that that makes it less of a movie, though.

    Maybe I’m easily swayed by clever visuals and fun gags, but I certainly don’t see what’s frustrating or lazy about it.

    Oh, and LA LUNA is utterly lovely.

  • Justin

    I thought “Brave” was awesome! It had a really good story. “La Luna” was also great.

  • Lala_Marin

    I really enjoyed watching Merida’s relationship with her mother develop, their interactions were a lot like my own with my mother, but my favorite thing about the film was the animation. It was absolutely beautiful, and dear lord: MERIDA’S HAIR!

    The opening song was a little blah, I didn’t particularly like it, and it felt as out of place as that bland Mandy Moore song that Rapunzel sings at the beginning of her film. King Fergus’s song in the great hall, and Queen Elinor’s song in the flashback, though brief, were really very good, and I would have liked to have heard more of that type of music. Oh well.

    As for the people who keep complaining about how “non-Pixar” it was, I disagree. What I’ve come to expect from Pixar is high quality animation, engaging characters, and solid storytelling. I’ve already gushed over the animation, and everyone seems to be in consensus that it is a beautiful film visually, but I’d like to say a little more about Merida’s family dynamic and the story.

    I’ve been hearing people complain that the conflict between Merida and her mother is somehow contrived, or that it lacks feminism, or whatever. The film wasn’t about Merida wanting to do whatever she wanted because “she ain’t your average princess;” it was about the rift in her relationship with her mother, caused by lack of communication and understanding. Her mother wants what’s best for her, but she doesn’t communicate that very well; resulting in Merida feeling that the queen is controlling every aspect of her life, with no regard for how she feels. She wasn’t trying to shirk her duties because “she ain’t your average princess,” she just wanted her mother to understand her.

    Yes, what Merida does to try and changer her “fate” was very selfish, and yes (SPOILER) she could very well have killed/poisoned her mother, but let’s be real here: teenage girls are often selfish. They sometimes do things without thinking about the consequences, or how their actions will affect the people around them. I know this from experience (having been a teenage girl not too long ago), and from observing others. However, there are times when that selfishness is rooted in frustration, as with Merida. Would I have given my mother a suspect (and probably poisonous) potion for any reason? I’d like to think not. But do I think Merida making a bad choice and being punished for it (Her mother was almost murdered BY HER FATHER)is sloppy storytelling? No.

    She made a stupid decision to try and get her way, but it was because she really felt that her mother didn’t care about how she felt. Don’t forget: she watched her mother BURN her treasured bow. It’s actually pretty similar to Ariel’s conflict with Triton in The Little Mermaid; Ariel runs off to make a deal with Ursula after Triton completely destroys her sanctuary. The difference, though, is that Ariel KNEW that Ursula wasn’t trustworthy, her father EXPLAINED why he didn’t want her poking around on the surface, and she KNEW that what she was doing was wrong THE ENTIRE TIME. Unlike Merida, Ariel really did get exactly what she wanted without ever really taking responsibility for her actions.

    Remember, when Merida speaks before the clans, she realizes that she’s been selfish and almost started a war, and she understands why the marriage is so important. In fact, the only reason she ultimately doesn’t go through with it is because her mother (having finally understood her daughter) intervenes.

    All of that said, I did feel that the story should have focused more on Merida and the queen, and less on the shenanigans of the menfolk. As a few people have already noted, the flashback scenes to her childhood were great, and one or two more would have made the story a lot stronger. I would especially liked to have seen a flashback to Elinor’s youth, just before she marries Feergus. Seeing her unsure of whether she should go through with her own marriage would have made the her seeming relentlessness a lot more understandable, and it would have made her more personable to the younger audience, who probably thought she was just a bossy mom.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the king, but I felt like he was a little wasted just sitting in the castle and entertaining the three clans. I bought his relationship with Merida, and I felt like they would have been able to work in more of his relationship with Elinor without shifting the focus away from the mother-daughter story.

    From the interviews I’ve read, those issues are most likely the result of the powers that be meddling with the story that Brenda Chapman wanted to tell (and replacing her as the director of a movie that SHE conceived). I really liked Brave, but I genuinely feel like it could have been an A++ if they hadn’t tried to appease the younger male audience. The story at the core was good enough, and strong enough, that they really could have gone farther with it.

    Am I a little disappointed, sure, but it was still a very good film.

    And come on guys, the last thing we got from Pixar was Cars 2, so should we really be complaining?

  • Tanya

    LONG REVIEW (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

    Overall, I thought Brave was a really fun ride. Visually, no one can deny that it was spectacular. THE ANIMATION! The beginning of the film, where we meet Merida, was thoroughly enjoyable, as was the prologue. The montage of Merida riding through the forest, shooting targets, and scaling the cliff was great; you really got into her character, and you felt her joy. The prologue was also great, introducing us to the major characters, and setting up the story well. The connection between Fergus and Merida was really solid. It was set up really well and got off to a strong start, but it started to lose its punch when Merida asked the witch to change her mother. I thought that was a little too selfish of her, to ask for the complete change of her own mother.

    I couldn’t help but sigh a little when the mother turned into a bear. It felt too familiar for me, like a combination of “Brother Bear” (turning into a bear) and “Freaky Friday” (having to repair the mother-daughter bond with understanding). That being said, I couldn’t help but laugh at the antics of the bear queen. I liked the way they kept the bear looking like a “real bear,” and yet you were clearly able to read the queen’s personality in it. Hats off to the animators of the bear queen; they did a great job. And I liked the device of the queen fluctuating between her own mind and the mind of a wild bear. That was a good wrench in the works that I didn’t expect, and it enhanced the story, driving it forward.

    Someone mentioned earlier in the talkback that the story could have been better by including an extra day to break the spell; I fully agree with that. I think Pixar might have been trying to avoid the cliché magical number of 3 (3 days, 3 wishes, etc). Call me old-fashioned, but I still like that number, and it would have hit home as being clearly magical. Not to mention that it would have given more time to develop the characters of Merida and Elinor. I would have liked to see a bit more of Mor’du as well; he was a fantastic threat. I think one more day in the story would have allowed for some serious tension to build up and keep us all on the edges of our seats.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but one thing that I didn’t care for was the animation of Merida at the climax of the film, when she throws the tapestry over the bear queen, but the bear doesn’t change back into her mother. Her facial expressions seemed a little strange…I think they were trying to show her anguish, trying not to cry, but not being able to help it, something like that. It was a good idea, but it wasn’t really working for me.

    Despite all this, I still think Brave was a good movie. It didn’t floor me, but I wasn’t disappointed, either. I thought the character of the witch was really fun and eccentric. Perhaps a tad too modern, but still fun. I liked the hint in the fact that all she carved out of wood was bears. The relationship between Fergus and Merida was really well played. I absolutely loved the lighting in the film; the atmosphere was beautiful. The three brothers were also a fun addition to the story for comic relief; I like the fact that they don’t speak.

    Brave was worth seeing. It wasn’t as daring as some other Pixar films we’ve seen, but I’m not going to hold that against them. It was enjoyable, entertaining, and beautiful.

    And about La Luna, I think my favorite part was the scene where the boy compared the mops to their facial hair. The music was lovely, as was the lighting. It was a sweet, enchanting little piece.

  • CC

    La Luna- adorable.
    Brave- down to it’s elements- were all fantastic. Stunning visuals (some backgrounds looked truly real), lovely music, fantastic voice acting (thank goodness they didn’t go with Reese Witherspoon), and some really great animation.
    As an animated fairy tale, it was a breath of fresh air. Finally a fairy tale that doesn’t sneak in a love story- it was about the mother and daughter, and I applaud it for that. Nonetheless it maintained a fairy tale feel- yet definitely remained a Pixar film (the sequence with the witches cauldron is a great example).
    I was really pleased. No, it wasn’t my favourite of Pixar’s films, but it absolutely stands proudly among them.
    As a side note, I saw this film with a friend from Scotland and she loved it- they managed to stay true to Scotland and not resort to any ugly cliches. She also noted that she loved how all the lead voice actors were actually from Scotland and used very Scottish phrases (unlike How To Train your Dragon which the Scottish voices felt tagged on, not to mention it had a American lead)
    It was a movie worth seeing, even if it wasn’t perfection. And stay until the end of the credit roll!

    • Lala_Marin

      Agreed-that last bit after the credits was great!

  • http://www.miserbros.com Rick Goldschmidt

    Hi Jerry, I have not seen the film in a theatre BUT it holds no appeal to me or my kids (who are older now) at all. The trailer has a much different sensability than the classic PIXAR films (crude humor, etc.). Nothing in the trailer made me want to watch this film…in fact, just the opposite. It became a tradition for us to go to PIXAR films as a family BUT I doubt we will ever see this one :) I am not the only person that feels this way about this one…many other friends in the entertainment community. Many have said over the years….what about another INCREDIBLES? I like to se PIXAR try new things BUT the last few (I did see CARS 2 in 3-D in a theatre) have seem compromised by DISNEY.

    • Chelsea

      I don’t understand your point. It is like you are bragging about the fact that you don’t like the trailers, as if you’ve somehow avoided some kind of embarrassing trap by being ‘too cool’ to go see a movie you don’t particularly think looks good.

      See it or don’t, but it seems awfully ridiculous to me that you would write an entire comment about how your Very Important Opinion tells you this movie simply isn’t worth it, so you’re not even going to go find out if you’re actually correct about the story being ‘bad as it looks’ or not. Why is this something to be proud of and announce to everyone?

    • Optimist

      I believe “Talkback” is supposed to be limited to people who have actually seen the film-ONLY.

      • http://www.cartoonbrew.com/author/jerry Jerry Beck

        As moderator, I broke the rule this one time because Rick is an old friend – AND because he has a point of view worth discussing. I know many people put off from the film by the trailer.

      • http://www.cartoonsolutions.com Ryan Simmons

        I saw the trailer many times and could never really understand what the story was really about, I did see many shots of bears and figured that would play into it somehow.
        I saw the movie today and went into it hoping that it would be better than the trailer, but it didn’t really deliver on a lot of levels as others have stated. I think that if I hadn’t needed a family movie to see with the kids, I wouldn’t have gone to see the movie on my own simply based on the trailer.

      • Tanya

        I actually like the fact that the trailer didn’t reveal much. It gets a little annoying when you watch a trailer and the majority of the story is revealed. I intentionally didn’t watch a lot of the promotional material beyond the first theatrical trailer because I figured there would be a lot of spoilers. When I went to see the movie, all I really knew was that Merida wanted to changer her fate (whatever it was). That was good enough. It was a vague overview for what the movie was about without giving away major story points. It’s nice to go into a movie without knowing what’s going to happen, but having a loose idea about the characters, setting, and mood. In that way, I feel the trailer was quite successful. I think people over-analyse the trailers and start expecting too much out of them.

    • Schultz!!!!!

      I agree about the “Disney-ifcation” of the movie. While I go to and enjoy Disney animation, it’s a different and lower quality animal in the writing department from Pixar altogether. I kept getting Disney vibes all through the movie.

      A long time reader of the Jim Hill blog, I remember his past comments on Disney Toy marketing and it’s influence over the animation executives – during the 2d collapse. Obviously CARS 2 was a vehicle for toy marketing and a PIXAR Princess film like BRAVE fits with the Princess toy lines which have been big sellers.

      In general, this is bad news for anyone who is a fan of the PIXAR canon.

    • Jabberwocky

      It’s worth mentioning that the trailers for Brave are some of the most misleading I’ve seen in years, and don’t really show off the tone or themes of the movie at all. I would read some reviews and give the movie a chance. Most of the clips in the trailer are from the first 20 minutes or so of the movie, and those crude jokes? Those are the only ones. Don’t miss out on the movie just because the trailer is awful.

    • hmmm

      Rick, why do you say the Pixar films are now ‘compromised by DISNEY.’? Disney animation is run by Lasseter and Catmull, and I don’t see any evidence that anyone is telling those two gentlemen how to do their jobs.

      Is it possible that, after a great run, the Pixar brain trust has gone through their great ideas, and have gotten stale?

      • http://elephantmarch.blogspot.com William Bradford

        Well, if it is a sign that Pixar’s lost it’s touch, it won’t be from imitating Disney’s formula. This was there first fairy tale, and there next films are a college story, somthing with dinosaurs, a fantasy mind-working story, and somthing to do with the mexican day of death.

  • MP

    I was not a big fan of La Luna. I had seen it before during the Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts Showcase earlier this year. The gag with the broom and brush I saw coming mainly due to the similarity with Thompson and Thomson from Tintin already having a similar thing going with their facial hair (as well as the newspaper gag in the movie). Then spelling it out with the kid holding the different objects in front of each one then felt a bit much. Like others said, the payoff for the one visual gag was not totally worth it. That said, most of the silent shorts beat out the shorts with dialogue (except for some of the movie based ones). Boundin’ is still the worst one in my mind.

    As for Brave, I went in not knowing much about the story, but had seen the usual trailers. I was unaware as to the role of the bear, and didn’t know that there were two of them, thus assuming the one bear was the main antagonist. So when I saw the bear as a huge plush that you could pose with at the Disney Store, and then as someone chasing you in Temple Run Brave, that there was some weird mixed message thing going on. Later realized they look totally different of course.

    So it felt refreshing not knowing about that plot detail (even though it’s been revealed in several reviews). Similarly I didn’t know about the cubs/triplets, and thus was surprised that I didn’t see that coming before going into the film.

    The film itself, story wise took place on a much smaller scale than I thought it would, but the personal journey was well done, except that Merida’s mom did pretty much all of the heavy lifting in the showdown.

    Another minor thing but I wish there was more individual personality from the triplets. Yes, it can be guaranteed that the creative team did come up with a separate look and personality for each of them, but on screen they just seemed interchangeable. Then again maybe that wasn’t the intent, but perhaps a separate viewing will reveal more.

  • sam

    Pixar disappoints yet again with BRAVE. The story fell flat, just like its work from last year. Pixar now almost becomes fast food chain that produce stories like Big Mac’s. It proves again the collaborative scripting writing process is rotten, when everyone in the whole animation team can throw two cents into the story, it is over. You can render those red hair a thousand different way with accuracy, but if the story is bad, nothing can save it.

    • TheDoctorJones

      totally agree about the group writing. i think the “Brain Trust” at Pixar has really bought into their own hype and it’s led to some piss poor stories as of late.

      i mean, let’s compare the “lone wolf” Brad Bird to the collaboration-obsessed Andrew Stanton. how did their debut live-action projects turn out?

      even “La Luna”…that should have never gotten past the pitch process with a story that non-existant.

      i’ll take focused, individual voices over story-by-committee every day of the week.

  • TheDoctorJones

    not much more to say on “Brave” that hasn’t been covered. just pretty flat and lazy/cliched storytelling throughout (the witch is so embarrassingly half-assed).

    but La Luna…

    why is this getting such a pass?

    it’s a giant bucket of nothing. there’s no story here. a great setup for something charming to happen and then…nothing.

    why build up to the giant star only to have the kid break it apart and it lead to…nothing.

    very confusing short. and kind of bewildering how that made it through storyboards.

    • orljustin

      Totally agree with this. Did not get the point of Luna at all. The stars are supposed to be what make the moon appear bright? Why didn’t they finish the job cleaning, if they are janitors. Why leave a crescent. What’s the point of the big star breaking up? It was a big nothing imo.

    • OtherDan

      I think it had less to do with the giant star and everything to do with finding your own way.

      • http://danielmaraya.blogspot.com DannyAraya

        Yes. Exactly this. I don’t understand what people found difficult to understand about that.

  • http://4eyedanimation.com JoeCorrao

    I felt Brave and La Luna were both let downs. Not much in the way of stories. Brave had nice character designs, but the backgriunds and sets weren’t anything special. Is this what we can expect from Pixar now? Up, Wall-E, Ratatouille, Incredibles were great but lately unispired work.

  • Typewriter Ribbon

    There is really a lot to enjoy in Brave, and I look forward to future repeat viewings. Congratulations to the artists at Pixar, they should be proud. Although I really enjoyed the film, for the sake of professional discussion, the story did lack some subtlety and depth that would elevate it from great to incredibly great. Every male character was a goofy caricature, and thus Merida’s friction with her world and disinterest in an arranged marriage seemed externally motivated and inevitable rather than revealing or character-driven. The ‘foolish-bargain-with-the-witch’ and ‘animal-transformation-curse’ ideas could have benefitted from just a few more nudges in a fresh direction. The dramatic tension and pacing seemed a little mishandled once Elinor’s curse-clock was ticking – the witch gave them the clue and set the deadline, but they promptly forgot about it and bonded over fish. And lastly – am I the only one who would have liked to spend a little more quality time with the mysterious forest wisps? Anyway, that’s just my nitpicking on why it isn’t a perfect film, and as I said before, I really enjoyed it and will see again!

    • droosan

      I rather liked the ‘bonding-over-fish’ sequence .. but perhaps it might’ve been better to place that scene -before- the witch reveals the ‘ticking-clock’ aspect of the curse.

  • B’ini

    I enjoyed the film and am sorry I missed the shot at the end of the credits. I’ll probably see it a second time just to take it all in again. I think the flaw in the writing was there was no real need for Merida to get married and therefore no real need to make her a princess. The fact that she doesn’t get married and everyone goes on their merry way was unsatisfying. No truly likeable characters (apart from the horse) didn’t help either. But, I did like it and the kids in the audience laughed and seemed fully engaged.

  • Taco Wiz

    The film had trouble getting me invested in anything happening. It felt very disjointed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a side effect of having the director replaced mid-production.

    The post-credits scene was definitely worth the price of admission, though. Seriously, don’t leave during the credits.

  • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

    Not the best Pixar film; not the worst. Sometimes, though, average is more disappointing that “bad.”

    • Ed Thompson

      I agree. I think the expectations were high on this film, and it obviously didn’t meet them as far as most on this board are concerned. But the theater was full where I saw the movie and the audience was engaged, and from overheard comments afterwards they really liked the movie. Are the unwashed masses less critical or are we too critical?

      • http://www.animatorisland.com/ J.K. Riki

        They’re less critical. Look what they have to compare to these days. It’s only we animators (and some others, sure) that hold tight to the quality of days gone by. Brave is a masterpiece by today’s film standards, and audiences go in with such low expectations that it’s hard to disappoint them. Our expectations are through the roof, though, because it’s our industry and our passion and it’s Pixar. I think we CAN be too critical, but I think (for most of us) our critical eye is for a decent reason: We know how great things can be and are sad when things fall way short.

  • http://www.slitherandfriends.com Mike

    Is this the Prometheus of Pixar films? Sure seems like it reading these comments.

    I didn’t have strong expectations walking in, I just know that there really hasn’t been a Pixar film I haven’t liked (discounting sequels which I haven’t really pursued), and I thought Brave was a strong showing. Based on the cheers and clapping by the kids in the theater afterwards, they probably liked it too.

    I bring up the Prometheus comparison because there’s another film that was engaging (deeply flawed, but engaging) that the critics liked but the fan base despised because personal expectations probably doomed it before filming began.

    • Lib

      You could also compare it to Prometheus in the sense that there are things in Brave that simply aren’t very coherent.

      Unlike Ridley Scott’s train wreck, Brave still is a good film. But it feels like it needed a couple more rewrites. That’s probably why many are feeling unsatisfied, and blame the princess concept and Disney-like fairy tale setting for it, when in reality I think it’s just a consequence of under-developed writing.

      What essentially happens in Brave is that a young princess is being treated unfairly by her mother, who’s obsessed with tradition and etiquette. Then three suitors appear and trigger the final clash between mother and daughter, which leads to the latter asking for a spell to change the former. The suitors and their clans don’t really have much use other than triggering that fight between Merida and Elinor, and after the archery tournament it becomes apparent that the writers don’t seem to know what to do with them. So they just leave them in the castle fighting for the rest of the film as a comic relief. Mor’du as a villain is completely disconnected to this main plot, and the entire set up I just described can happen exactly the same without him. It’s no surprise that his appearances are sporadic, which makes me wonder why they kept him in the movie.

      But then there’s the spell itself and everything surrounding it. How exactly does it work? Two people, a young girl and a prince from the past, asked this witch for completely different things yet they got the same spell. Even more convenient, both happened to damage some kind of visual representation of unity before getting the spell, and the way to reverse it is to fix that both figuratively and for real. But even if this was just Merida’s assumption, how does the bear situation help her mother realize that the daughter deserves her own freedom? Because she teaches her how to fish and which blueberries are bad? In reality, Elinor first notices that Merida is right while Merida is giving her speech in front of the clans, which, as far as we know, is something that Merida could’ve done at any point during the movie, since it’s nothing that she learned from her experiences after the spell situation. Therefore, why the spell, why the adventure?

      I believe the movie gets away with these weaknesses because it’s not too far away from making them work, and because it’s fun, full of likable characters and looks gorgeous. But more should’ve been done. This is not Dreamworks we’re talking about.

      • http://progresscityusa.com Michael

        I wish it was possible for me to “like” this comment a thousand times. This is a great deconstruction of some of my most glaring issues with this film. It’s all a bunch of loose ends tossed in a bag and shaken up; things that *could* be interesting, like Mor’du and the ruined city, are breezed by so quickly you wonder why they bothered. Looking back, it felt like five hours of wacky slapstick clan fighting in that great hall. Everything felt very broad; a lot of sturm and drang. Disjointed ideas.

        Great, great analysis.

        Also: Prometheus *was* rubbish.

  • http://4eyedanimation.com JoeCorrao

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV5w262XvCU&feature=g-vrec

    a nice animated piece in the same vain

  • Mike

    *SPOILERS*

    Is it just me, or did the animation on Elinor-as-a-bear seem unrealistic? I am not an animator, but I am familiar with their desire to give characters believable physics with regards to their weight/mass and movement. Incredibles and Cars – to name two – are good examples of respecting character physics and weight. Elinor, in her bear form, seemed to move unbelievably quick, and had surprising control of her movements (walking on two bear legs, eating daintily with claws), considering that she just turned into a bear for the first time.

    Or am I (likely) missing something?

    • Becca

      *SPOILERS*

      On the contrary, I LOVED the animation with Elinor the bear. Her walking killed me every time.

      I would argue the Queen herself is totally in-control of her composure, so, as a bear, her actions/composure are consistent.

      We did also get the entire sequence of Merida trying to get her mother out of the castle. Elinor was tripping and stumbling a lot throughout. So she wasn’t completely in control right away.

  • Ed Thompson

    Brave was a good movie. Not a great one, but pretty good in the same manner as ‘A Bugs Life’. What worries me is that we are now getting sequels to previous successful Pixar movies where the primary motivation to make them is money. My opinion, but Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 seem to be market-analysis driven movies. So I don’t have a lot of hope for ‘Monsters University’.

    Pixar is really only a name anymore. It was sold to Disney, and Disney keeps the name around because it perceives the name to be good for marketing. If the name ceases to be a draw then I think that Disney will quietly drop it.

    • http://ryanrosendal.blogspot.com Ryan

      “Pixar is really only a name anymore. It was sold to Disney, and Disney keeps the name around because it perceives the name to be good for marketing.”

      I don’t know, I think the employees of Pixar might disagree that the company is only a name! A name can’t exactly make a movie all by its lonesome.

  • Megan Matelonek

    Overall i think the graphics and animation were spectacular especially from seeing the lighting, the colors and the flow of hair and clothing. Although i think the film overall for graphics, stylized Pixar at its brightest. I personally feel the story was a bit cliche and not that appealing as a positive outlook. They did have a point, but I feel that the main character didn’t really change as a person. I just wish there was more of a conflicted or situation that she would change from instead of how it was presented or even shown in the film.
    I did enjoy the movie as a whole, but the story I felt was a bit lacking and i kind of wish they made something more of the main heroine (personality wise but also how she changed from the beginning to the ending of the film felt like she didn’t really change that much compared to other films)

    side note: Dreamworks has come along way and i feel that their movies are pretty good compared to Disney/Pixar

  • Mat H

    The pacing was weirdly fast. I was whispering to myself ‘slow the f*ck down’

  • http://fmhansen.com Frank M Hansen

    Felt like a Disney film not a Pixar film. That is not all bad, but where Pixar used to create qualirty, well thought out stories/movies that just happen to be animated they are now slipping and starting to make animated movies that are animated first, and solid quality stories/movies later.

    Perhaps Pixar has finally fallen to the pressure of releasing a new movie every year. At that pace they are not all going to be UP, Nemo and Incredibles every time. Let’s just hope they are not Cars 2 either. That one made Brave look really good.

  • http://www.ozcot.com/new Ken Cope

    Brave is a genre stew composed of How to Train Your Dragon and Tangled, borrowing from Little Mermaid and Freaky Friday, with a slight aroma of Shrek. At least Pixar adds critical new ingredients to make the same old meal taste fresh. To reduce Brave to ‘yet another princess movie’ misses what Tangled did quite well, but especially what Brave does right. Tangled already took everything Disney owns about the princess genre and did it in 3D to Pixar standards. Tangled is everything that’s rigidly formulaic about Disney’s princess genre: every one of them is a musical featuring the gimme song and a cute/wacky greek chorus, an evil crone, magic spells, villainous death plunge, a happy wedding in a fairy tale castle, merchandise and an inevitable themed attraction. If Pixar had set out to slap their name on the Disney princess recipe then Brave would have only filled a much-needed gap. Instead, Brave doesn’t orphan the heroine for her adventure, Merida even has one with her mom. Brave’s maiden managed to pass the Bechdel Test in scenes with a maid, her mother and a crone. Apotheosis with the mother while the princess rides into the sunset with her horse! Brave is sincere, taking its story seriously enough not to slip into parody, with only a few anachronistic lapses. It can be forgiven, I suppose, for pasting a couple of songs over a montage or two, with a little more telling than showing. I would like to have seen some of the film’s stories, but at least the storytelling is driven by character, as the King, the Queen and the Princess are judged by the quality of their storytelling. Of all the animated fairy tales my 6 year old daughter has consumed, Brave is among the healthiest of the lot. I’m glad she finally got to see such a story in a film featuring a princess, and see it with her mother.

    One last thing. I never want to see another lateral pan in 3D until The Hobbit doubles the frame rate later this year.

  • http://www.moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

    SPOILERS:
    I found Brave to be frustrating and somewhat amateur. First of all, I think the trailers are misleading because they seem to lead you to believe it’s about a girls journey of self discovery. Instead it’s yet another animated story about a teenager who can’t get along with one of her parents and is forced into a contrived situation in order to teach her a lesson. And the whole message of the film hits you on the head with a sledgehammer. The movie starts out okay, but the moment the “twist” happened and I saw where it was going I just groaned and rolled my eyes, because the film was headed on a beaten path that’s been troded in animated films since forever now.

    Some of the mysticism was lost on me. Merida seems like she rides her horseback through the woods all the time. How is it she never knew about the circular shrine of rocks, which only seemed to be a mile or two away from the castle? Probably the most interesting story element was the story of the prince cursed as a bear, which was actually pretty cool and should have been expanded on more. I expected the Mother/Daughter relationship to be part of the film, but I didn’t expect it to be the whole movie. I would have rather seen Merida having a journey on her own, which I think would have been far more empowering to see in her journey towards womanhood.

    Another thing I didn’t understand was turning the triplets into Bear cubs. Merida’s mother’s transformation is grounded in a set of rules. Why are there no rules regarding the triplets? It sort of takes the believability away from the curse put on Merida’s mother considering nothing really happens to the triplets. I also got no sense of impending doom with the ticking clock of the second sunrise that would make the mother’s transformation permanent. I admit, part of the reason too was I got mixed up, I thought the witch said by the second sunset the curse would be complete. I know this might be lifting from The Little Mermaid a bit, but I could have used a visual of a sunrise or something when the witch was explaining the curse just to make it clear what will happen. I’m not suggesting I can’t retain the information if somebody just says it, but a visual would hit the point home of the impending stakes involved, and the sense of the ticking clock.

    Overall, for Pixar’s attempt to make a movie about a girl’s journey, I found this movie to be too amateur. Parents would be better off introducing their kids to Miyazaki than this. In a field of animated features dominated by boy content, I don’t think Pixar did anything really extraordinary to change the game.

    As for La Luna…I didn’t get the point of it. It plays like a cute Cal Arts short. Did anything that happened in the short really matter?

    • http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com Cory Gross

      Did anything that happened in “La Luna” matter? No. Nothing in any movie MATTERS.

      But it was beautiful and charming and whimsical, which is more than can be said for a lot of movies.

  • Nick Name

    I’m a little confused why “la Luna” was chosen as the short before Brave. It was on the short list for the Academy Award for 2011, and here it is released in June of 2012. It was by far the weakest of the nominees in my opinion. As someone pointed out, it’s totally empty. A big build-up to nothing. The 3D effects are quite good, though. Was that the reason for the nomination?

  • Chris

    Flawed but gorgeous. Probably needed another year of development to become an A title. I wonder if the pushed up date for Brave after the cancellation of Newt is to blame?

    Breakthroughs in Merida’s relationship with her mom felt weirdly unearned and contrived.

  • http://moo-cartoon.blogspot.com MooCartoon

    “There are elements from Disney films, and tropes from Pixar’s past, but they both come together to make a film that doesn’t feel like either studio’s work. It’s a weird Frankenstein of a film that doesn’t hit the highs it was aiming for, but it’s still a commendable effort.”

    Click here to read my full review: http://moo-cartoon.blogspot.ca/2012/06/brave-review.html

  • http://www.frogchildren.com Kevin K Hanna

    With it’s strong-willed female protagonist, cursed transforming creatures, and woodland sprites, Brave seems more Miyazaki than Disney-Pixar.

    which to me is not a bad thing. ever.

  • thisGuy

    This film was fantastic in almost every way but I question why Merida was the protagonist. By all accounts the mother is the true protagonist as she goes through the largest spiritual transformation (I’m not talking physical transformation into the bear). Her world view is shattered, she’s forced to be in a world where she has to question her values and adapt. In the end she changes her world view, understanding and accepting Merida’s way.

    On the other hand, Merida makes some really terrible choices and gets away with it. She embarrasses her family and the other clans, risks her kingdom, destroys her mother’s tapestry, and willfully curses her own mother. She ends up getting her own selfish way because of the curse. At no point does she face her own destiny and sacrifice anything. Yes she realizes that life is better with her mother but that is far weaker than her mother’s spiritual journey. Merida’s world view is not torn apart and she never has to put it back together.

    Mom is the real protagonist!

    The tone of the film kind of flip flops halfway from something with dramatic weight to a slapstick comedy. The business with Merida and her mother running through the castle and having the children distract the pursuing men was grating. I’d like to see Pixar keep a heavy tone in a film which needs it.

    Despite my criticism of the story it works very well in and of itself. All story elements register and have meaning later on in the plot. Everything is tied up into a nice little package at the end. The movie itself is gorgeously art directed and well edited.

    Also La Luna was wonderful in concept but its story was like a student film; ie. no emotional weight. Real pretty and enchanting, though! An a hell of a musical score.

  • http://moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

    Did anyone else notice that by having Merida give her mother the enchanted pie she could be putting her mother in serious danger? All the witch says is that by giving her mother the pie it will change Meridas destiny. Well, that could mean a lot of bad things. The pie could be poison, killing her mother and changing Meridas destiny that way. She doesn’t know the witch or what she’s capable of. Even though Merida is mad at her mother, I think she would show some concern that she might potentially kill one of her parents. There’s a serious error in judgement there on her part that she doesn’t ask questions about whether or not she’ll do serious harm to her mother.

    • http://elephantmarch.blogspot.com William Bradford

      Well, she IS a teenager: In fact I like that they made her a bit selfish and shortsighted at that point. They don’t always make good choices when they’re that age

      • http://moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

        I know she’s a teenager and she wants to get back at her mom. But to make her that immature that a warning bell wouldnt go off in her head when the witch wouldn’t explain the curse? I thought she would show more concern that she could potentially harm her mother in a very bad way. Any teenager her age would show some reservation about doing something like this, considering the pie is offered by a complete stranger. What she did is stupid, but there’s something wrong with the fact that she doesnt acknowledge the serious potential consequences.

      • http://moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

        I think after the fight with her mother, Merida should have just run away with the intention of leaving for good instead of going back to the castle. That’s what someone her age would have done. . And why shouldn’t she? She knows how to hunt and make shelter for herself. She’s almost a grown woman who can make her own choices. She should just leave. The biggest problem with this film is that Merida WANTS to be free, but instead she sabotages herself and forces herself into a situation where she’s tied to her mother. I’m not the biggest fan of The Little Mermaid, but after Ariel fights with her dad, she basically says screw him, I’m leaving, and I think we all admire her for having the courage to make that choice and willfully accepting the potential consequences that come with it. Merida has a much bigger advantage than Ariel in that she can actually live out in the woods and take care of herself. This mother/daughter story might have worked better if Merida were 11 or 12 years old and got into a fight with her mother, the plot would have serviced her better at that age. But like I said, Merida in the film is practically a grown woman. She should have been given the freedom to go out in the world and find out who she is, not be stuck learning how to get along with her mother.

    • thisGuy

      Yea! Merida makes this horrible decision to attack her mother in the worst way and then Merida wins out for it. A story where the protagonist is actually the antagonist and the antagonist is actually the protagonist.

      • optimist

        I am just flabbergasted at the the number of guys who are so upset and appalled at Merida “poisoning” her mother, as if this story is an ABC afterschool special from 1978 instead of a fairy tale!

        Look, she isn’t buying some bath salts from a dealer in Macarthur park. She gets that this old woman is a REAL, magic-making witch that will give her a spell to CHANGE HER MOTHER. NOT kill her mother, for crissakes.

        That’s a staple of folk tales and fairy tales, people. This isn’t happening in a real shop in Edinburgh in 2012, it’s pre-medieval Scotland(that said I’d bet that if a “modern” girl in a Miyazaki film bought a sweetcake off an old woman/witch to change her mother, no one here would be saying “how absolutely horrible! I hate the character of little Mei/Kiki/whatever! She’s so stupid to believe the witch when she asks for a spell!”

        So, back to Merida: Clearly she wants her mother to change her mind. But she didn’t say that explicitly in her request, leaving it at “channge her, so I can change my fate”. Which is exactly what happened. And the old prince of legend (Mordu) wanted “the strength of 10 men” to defeat his brothers. And he got that strength-as a bear. This is all classic folk tale stuff.

        There’s just no place in a fable/fairy tale like this for the character to say “hey, what if this is poison instead of a spell to change her”. And it’s frankly silly to demand that beat. You’ve got to go with the narrative here, guys: if you don’t like the chracter, you don’t like her, but as far as I’m concerd she was extremely likeable-in fact, so was her mother. Which was kind of the point.
        Oh well.

      • http://www.moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

        The witch is a trickster. This is made abundantly clear in the film. Merida doesn’t know who this witch is. What if she’s evil? How does Merida know the witch isn’t plotting to kill the queen of the royal Scottish family? People make comparisons to this with the The Little Mermaid, but at least in that film Ariel was smart enough to know ahead of time the witch was evil and she knew what she was getting into. The rules of the spell Ursula told her were put upfront and made perfectly clear to her. Merida is more mature than Ariel because we can see in the first act of Brave that she’s a fighter and that she knows how to take care of herself. For her to make a decision like this to get back at her mother without thinking it through was stupid. After hearing the witches obscure lines regarding the spell and not going into specifics, A WARNING BELL would have gone off in Merida’s head that she could be doing something that could endanger her mother.

        It’s not just the fact that she’s potentially killing her mother that’s the problem here, the problem is with the premise of the film itself. Having Merida get back at her mom with a curse is something a 12 year old would do, because a 12 year old would be bound by her parents rules because she has nowhere else to go. Merida is 16 years old. She knows how to hunt in the woods and she knows how to make shelter for herself. You know what she would have really done if she wanted to get back at her mom after their fight? She would have run away. She is prepared for this during the whole first act of the film. She doesn’t want to be a princess and she doesn’t want her mom telling her how to live her life. And you know what? She’s right. No one should be telling her how to live her life. In medieval Scotland she would be considered a woman. She’s ready to leave and go out into the world to have a journey of self discovery. That would make her feminist journey empowering. She would be taking her destiny into her own hands.

        But no, that’s not what we get. The filmmakers force Merida into a contrived plot line where she’s forced to get along with her mother so she can be taught the lesson that it’s only okay to live your own life after you prove yourself to your mother so you can get her approval. That’s bullshit. Merida doesn’t need her mother’s approval. That’s the last thing she wants! She doesn’t want to be a princess, and she doesn’t want her mother controlling her. And Merida’s speech near the end about the importance of finding your own destiny and make your own choices in life has absolutely no weight to it. What does she know about finding her own destiny? Her destiny was forced on her by the filmmakers. She’s had to spend the whole film dealing with her mother. I’m sorry, but I think this film sends the wrong message to young women. This is not a film aimed at young kids, this is about a girl becoming an adult, and she doesn’t need her parents permission to go live the life she wants.

        I watched a Pixar classic “Finding Nemo” last night, and you know why Nemo and Marlin were able to finally bond at the end of the film? It’s because they had to get away from each other. By the time they get back together at the end, their loving bond at the end is natural and earned, and more powerful than ever. I think most people and critics are looking at this film the wrong way. Merida should have been free to live her life and have her own adventure. That’s how we got such great girl protagonists as Kiki in Kiki’s Delivery Service, Chihiro in Spirited Away, and Sofi in Howl’s Moving Castle. They were all free to find themselves and they matured because of it. Merida never gets that chance. All I can say about Merida is, I did care about here, and because of that, I thought she deserved better.

  • Sarah J

    I saw Brave and thought it was pretty good. Judging from the trailers, I was expecting a more serious tone, though, you know, big epic story and all. The film also felt like it was kind of short, I think they should’ve added a little extra time. I felt the movie could’ve been “bigger”, ya know? And the scenes with Mordu were really intense, I nearly screamed when Merida was in the castle ruins and he showed up! So I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t there very much. But overall, it was a pretty good film. Not Pixar’s best, but I did enjoy it. I can’t help but wonder if some of the movie’s flaws were the result of changing directors halfway through production.

  • Sarah J

    To add on, I think the biggest problem of the film was the pacing. It sort of shifted a lot. But it wasn’t enough to ruin the film.

    I ended up getting to the theater late, so I missed seeing La Luna. Guess I’ll have to wait to see it another time.

  • Jemma

    Brave really didn’t hit the spot. Merida’s hair was fantastic! Just ‘wow’ was the reaction looking at it. but that was about it. In the end, my friend and I weren’t left with a feeling of having watched a GREAT story. Like Ratatouille, that was a great movie – with it’s plot, characters and humor. ‘Brave’ was visually stunning yes, but the story fell flat on the way it was ‘paced’. It looked like they were trying to tell three different stories at once and that kinda got mixed up. The humor also is very here and there. A couple of the side characters looked like they needn’t be there or weren’t given enough time on screen for us to properly click with them, like the busty lady-in-waiting.
    Though La Luna was pure joy! I loved it.

  • orljustin

    I put Brave at the same level as Cars2. Very disappointing.

    Sure, it’s a ripoff of Mulan and Brother Bear, and many others. You can even see some of the same shots, and “I don’t speak bear” and looking in the mirror/water to see the reflection, etc. I didn’t know about the bear transformation before the movie, and I actually said something along the lines of “you’ve got to be kidding me” in the theater.

    There were just so many plot point that didn’t work. She wasn’t “Brave” at any point, except maybe when standing up and giving her speech. Apparently turning into a bear makes you immortal, since this ooooold story about a brother breaking the family is legend, yet, he’s still a bear, hacking about the woods. And why is he a bear? Did one of the other brothers find a witch in the woods to make him a cake? And the witch is just a device, we see her, we get the magic cake and move on from her.

    Agreed that for someone who spends a lot of time in the forest, Merida seems awfully surprised by things that seem to be pretty close to her home. Like no one had ever discovered the castle of the ancients less than a day’s walk away?

    And like said way above, everything is very heavy handed – “Hey, look at me, I’m a whiny teen, and my mom won’t shut up about telling me what to do!” Over and over. We get it. “Hey, men are stooopid”.

    What’s the resolution? She’s going to date these three buffoons when she gets the time for a movie night? Why are they so happy to go? The parents still think they are going to win her one day.

    Tried to out-Disney Disney, and failed, imo.

    • Becca

      “Apparently turning into a bear makes you immortal, since this ooooold story about a brother breaking the family is legend, yet, he’s still a bear, hacking about the woods. And why is he a bear? Did one of the other brothers find a witch in the woods to make him a cake?”

      With all due respect, did you miss the part where that is EXACTLY what happens? The witch even says the last time she did the spell was for a prince. And when Merida falls into the castle ruins, she realizes the prince is a bear. It’s all there.

      I also imagine he chose to stay a bear because no one would help him/he probably chose to keep “his fate.” Although I agree, the curse must make you immortal or something. They never specified.

      And the whole no one was really “brave” part? Ditto to the max. The title makes zero sense.

  • MP

    Oh one more thing, as I saw it for a second time: The triplets had to be bribed in order to save their mother’s life?! That’s cold.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I have just seen Brave and enjoyed it immensely. The fact
    there was no real villain (although Mordu came close) was nice. Mordu was very awe-inspiring in his appearences,I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t appear more. I really liked Merida and her rebellious and later loving attitude towards her mother. The climactic battle with Mordu was excellent & I loved seeing bear-Elinor fight him. A great movie.

    I thought La Luna was nice & whimsical.

  • Meredith

    I enjoyed the film, though not one of my top Pixar faves. It seemed to me that the only real stylization was happening with the characters so you had these cartoon people acting in a photo-real world, which was beautiful but not as fun to look at as some of the more stylized worlds from their other films (like Up).

    • Zabbot

      Excellent point.

  • http://voyagesextraordinaires.blogspot.com Cory Gross

    I would agree that “Brave” was not Pixar enough… which is a good thing. “Toy Story” was a great movie. All the remakes of “Toy Story” using bugs and monsters and automobiles and superheroes and more toys and fish and more automobiles and more toys were tedious examples of formulaic filmmaking that got free passes because of their overly manipulative string-pulling. My little experiment to demonstrate Pixar’s commercially safe formulaity is just to compare the creativity and diversity of Disney’s or Ghibli’s first 10 films to the sameness of Pixar’s first 10. Yep, I get it, things that aren’t people are funny because they’re like people and it’s sad to have to grow up.

    “Brave”, to its credit, was not a formula Pixar film and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the non-contemporary fairy tale setting, I liked that it dealt with a mother-daughter dynamic, and I liked that it dealt with coming-of-age issues beyond “growing up is sad”, and that both of the protagonists developed without one or the other being right. Being part-Scottish myself I didn’t particularly mind the Celtic music either. Yes, it was not like other Pixar films. Good. The studio is starting to mature.

    I utterly fell in love with “La Luna”, to the point where the corner of my eye got a bit moist at the beauty of it… It was hard for me to even think of “La Luna” as a Pixar short because it had such a Ghibli vibe to it, with echoes of “The Little Prince”, “The Adventures of Mark Twain”, the writings of Kenji Miyazawa, paper moon photography, and the films of Georges Melies. I love the air of celestial whimsy that it captured, and I’m glad that my girlfriend wants to buy “Brave” if for no other reason than it gives me access to that short.

  • http://youtube.com/drexelboi tedzey

    Brave may have it’s flaws, but it’s not a “bad” movie. I think my biggest problem was that I wanted it to be something bigger than it really was. Personally, I was under the impression that they would make a movie similar to Princess Mononoke. Though hearing the mixed reviews, I decided to drop all my expectations when seeing it which actually helped a lot. For some reason, I imagine there will be shorts Pixar will make for Disney films starring the three brothers and Billy Conolly’s character a la “Donald Duck and his nephews.” If I had one major bone to pick with this movie is that it turns into a buddy movie much like a bunch of other Pixar movies. Seeing Merrida and her mother bear in the forrest catching fish might as well have Randy Newman singing “You got a friend in me.” Though it was charming, and made me appreciate my mother it really didn’t move me.

    There was also a one gag character that one me over whose this Conan-type guy from the Dingwall Clan. He does so little and yet leaves a lasting impact on me! That, and his first screen appearance made me think “Spongebob did it!”

    As for “La Luna,” it was charming and made the Italian in me giggle. Not to be taken offensively, but I think it would work well if it were a pilot to a tv series on PBS for young children. I think it’s hero would serve as a fun character for kids like “Arthur” or “Rupert.”

  • Derik

    I really liked Brave and I think it was a very bold move for Pixar to make this film. It showed a different story about a princess that we (if never) hardly see.

  • Skip

    Finally got to see La Luna/Brave last night. First a comment on La Luna. I thought it was good, but not great. For me the high water mark for Pixar Shorts would be Presto or Day and Night. As for La Luna, It was cute and I could hear all of the women in the audience Saying “Aawww” every time something cute happened. As a short it worked, but when it finished I didn’t anticipate a second viewing, which is something that tends to happen with Pixar shorts. Lets just say that the pixar shorts volume 2 comes out, I can see this being one of the shorts that I only play once or twice.

    As for Brave. The general consensus is that character animation, and art direction are top notch, I agree. I might even go as far as to say that for those elements, it’s the best that I’ve seen the studio produce this far. As for the Story, there was never a moment where I wasn’t entertained, and I liked all of the characters. Brave was definitely both Pixar’s darkest film as well as most Adult, which is interesting considering that it was released after Cars 2. A film that I consider to be the studio’s most Immature/kid-friendly. That said I definitely plan on seeing Brave again in the theatre.

    Pixar kind of painted it self in to a corner. People tend to judge a Pixar film as to how it measures up to other Pixar films, rather than how good the film is. Before seeing the film I got a review from friends who said that if any other studio put it out they would have considered it the best film that they’d seen this year, but because it was a Pixar film, they expected more. How would I rank Brave amongst the Pixar cannon of films. I’m sure everyone’s list looks different, this list is just my opinion.

    1. Ratatouille
    2. The Incredibles / Toy Story 3 (Equally impressed with these films, It’s a tie for #2
    3. Toy Story 2
    4. Brave
    5. Monsters Inc.
    6. Toy Story
    7. Finding Nemo
    8. Wall E
    9. UP
    10. A Bugs Life
    11. Cars
    12. Cars 2

    • Suzzie

      Thanks for being able to sum up my thoughts about the film so well! Are people really going to keep the judging one studio on the same criteria even when they have been changing and developing just as much as any other organization does over time?

      • Zabbot

        So, we should all just lower our expectations of Pixar because they are no longer capable of making the great films they used to because the company has changed? Pixar has become less art-house more Mou$e-hou$e. That is not a good thing.

        Or perhaps I’m wrong in my expectation. Perhaps we have already seen the end of the golden age of CG animation.

    • E. Nygma

      Yes! So glad someone else thinks Ratatouille was the best Pixar film!

  • Mike Johnson

    Just got back from seeing Brave. Did I see a different film than many of the other people here on the Brew? I thought it was fantastic! Thoroughly entertaining on every level, gorgeously animated…perhaps the most beautiful scenery in any Pixar film yet…wonderful characters (superb voice work all around)and a story that had me actually caring about what happened to everybody. I really can’t say enough so I’ll just say that I cannot wait to see it again! Thank you Pixar for this wonderful treat of a film! Oh, and La Luna was so very sweet and gentle…loved it!

  • http://wskibski.blogspot.com wouter

    The problem that Pixar faces now is that they are making high quality classic Hollywood movies in a age where people get their stories increasingly from long-running TV series. You can’t deliver that kind of depth and viewer satisfaction in the 90 minutes allotted to an animated features. Up, Wall-e and Brave all suffered from this and had to create a formulaic plot for their interesting characters.

  • chipper

    I liked it, my only problem was I was fool enough to see it in 3D and it was kind of dark and blurry as a result.

  • Suzzie

    I really loved “Brave” and had very little complaints about the film as a whole. I wonder if it would be criticized so closely if it had come out before “Cars 2″ Or even before “UP”. I think if this were the case most everyone would be applauding Pixar’s genius, ingenuity, and storytelling in the film openly and not with reservation. I think it is also a bit ridiculous to continue to judge a film based on the studio they are produced from. To say “if ‘Brave’ was a Dreamworks film it would be INCREDIBLE” is silly! How does fact that it came from Pixar make it less incredible? Because it doesn’t fit the criteria that we have made up and mentally associate with Pixar? While I say all this, I don’t think that “Brave” is my favorite Pixar film, but I do not hesitate that it is in my top 5 of their 13.

  • Jack

    *SPOILERS!*I saw it today. My expectations where pretty low coming in because of the story synopsis and the changing of directors , but I still had hope that Brave would be an entertaining film. The sad thing is that Brave was only entertaining in it’s great animation, designs and rendering.

    When you take those elements away, what you’re left with is a uninteresting story, uninteresting and, frankly, BORING characters, and an unsatisfying conclusion.

    I think the main problem with the movie was the varying tone. When Elinor is fleeing for her life it’s treated like (lame) slapstick comedy when it has potential to be a great thrilling scene in the movie. And how having the suitors for Merida be incompetent caricatures to make her look good doesn’t make winning the archery competition rewarding or satisfying to the audience…she didn’t overcome any goal there if she’s against idiots. I know it’s family film but the comedy-relief should have been in more appropriate scenes.

    The characters themselves are very one-note. This a problem in a lot of Pixar movies (excluding Toy Story and The Incredibles) where you have characters defined more by their motivations rather than their personalities. The audience never gets know how Merida is like. I know what she wants to do and what she likes to do, but her personality and character traits are very underdeveloped. Seriously, try naming five things about her personality that have nothing to do with her role in the movie or something she wanted to do. Knowing the person BEHIND the motives would’ve made the audience more emphatic (or maybe less emphatic) for what the character is doing. Elinor is prissy, but that’s it. Not even a specific type of “prissy”, one original to the character, but just the general idea of what a royal person would be like. Again, do the “5 character traits” test and see how she doesn’t make a full character. The King was kind of fun, very goofy, but we don’t get to know him that well. The same goes for every supporting character (or should I say…plot devices). Pixar doesn’t seem to go beyond the characters’ general archetypes to make them more developed, more human. And when you have only three characters who regular interact with each other in the movie, strong character chemistry is a must!

    Lack of character, like I said, weaken character motivation and makes it feels like the characters are just doing what the plot wants them to do. Merida REALLY needed to explain why being free to do what she wants was important to her. Same with Elinor. We don’t get a sense of their relationship in the beginning of the movie, except one montage of them doing mundane things together that could barley be described as keeping the protagonist trapped (unlike, say, being forced into marriage). Maybe Elinor should’ve been keeping Merida from doing her interests, like Archery, maybe due to something traumatic experience that happened when Merida was younger, forcing Merida to practice in secret. With Elinor constantly taking activities away from Merida and making her do things her way, building up Merida’s frustration, adding an UNKNOWN forced marriage on top of it would be a great boiling point for Merida’s character. Except, from what I can see anyway, Merida already has everything she wants. Her only interest seems to be archery, and she already does that on weekends. So she certainly isn’t being kept from her sole interest! At what point did Merida and Elinor’s relationship sour? Elinor has flashbacks to a time where Merida really depended on her mother, yet in the beginning of the movie their relationship seems to be exactly the same up until the marriage thing. What ARE Merida’s dreams, anyway? She never explains what she’s being kept from doing, besides being single. These types of things really bug me in a film, and makes the story and characters unbelievable, despite doing very human things like making mistakes.

    And BECAUSE of the weakened motivations, you don’t care about the trial Merida and Elinor go through when Elinor is turned into a bear. I don’t even understand how being bear made Elinor relate more to Merida. Merida doesn’t live out in the wilderness and eat raw fish. It would make more sense for Merida to teach Elinor how to archer, and show why she likes it so much, but the bear thing prevents that. Instead all they’re doing is getting fish, and it’s supposed to be charming in someway…? The part where they learn that the curse has happened before was kinda neat, but again is just a plot device to get the villain bear in and is never explained why it changed him into a bear. There’s also Merida’s speech which didn’t feel genuine at all to me. At what point with her mom as a bear did Merida develop at all? Did Elinor ever understand Merida when they were together? Why didn’t Merida just make the comment about love to Elinor in the beginning of the movie if that was enough to sway Elinor otherwise? I doubt it took almost getting eating by a bear to talk about choosing your mate.

    And the ending was just disappointing and empty. Why did Elinor need to be turned into a bear in the first place? Honestly, if Merida didn’t drug her Mom thirty minutes in and just talked to her like a real person none of that crap would’ve happened. It’s not like it couldn’t have happened, Elinor and Merida see each other all of the time. Elinor isn’t established to be a person who doesn’t like to listen to opinions differing from her own, either. She didn’t have to go over a big hurdle to change. Merida pretty much got everything she wanted and didn’t change for the better. The king…stayed the same. And everything is just hunky dory for the characters as I leave the theater confused.

    Such a shame a beautiful movie has to have its characters be pulled by the plot that makes no sense in a boring story. Not the worst Pixar movie but certainly not a good one.

  • Oh well

    I feel this was two different movies stitched together. I really loved the beginning. I thought mother and daughter were great, and was thoroughly enjoying it.
    Spoilers
    Then the witch woman happened. What the heck was that???? The story kind of took a dive from there. They had such a good foundation, so why did they decide to build a shack on it?
    I guess what really bothers me is tha this movie had so much potentially. It really could’ve been great. Instead it relied on slapstick instead of heart. when they were down by the river and the mother was trying to be polite with manners, she was acting like a stereo type of a polite woman instead of the woman she actually was, for the sake of comedy, I suppose.
    When they were in the castle communicating with sign language their big moment understanding, I didn’t buy that. They weren’t ready for that moment yet. Too many shortcuts.
    What happened to the movie I saw during the first ten to fifteen minutes?
    I wanted to see THAT film.

  • Sevenfeet

    Well I finally got to see it last night in a Dolby Atmos theater that I discovered by accident on a business trip. I has already sent my wife and my daughter to see it last weekend. So here’s my thoughts…

    Was it a perfect movie? No. Was it a good movie, yes. We tend to put Pixar pictures on a pedestal to ridiculous standard since they have made some of the best classics of the modern animation age. Ironically, we complain about Cars/Cars 2 such much around here but in my house, those movies are still in constant rotation with my kids to this day. Those movies didn’t speak to grown-ups but not everything has to.

    One thing is certain…everytime I think that Pixar cannot surpass itself on the animation front and they do it again and again. The detail in the movie surpassed even what was in the trailers, something I’ve seen Pixar do before. Merida’s hair was spot on…I have a 6 year old daughter who has that exact hair (red curly mop) and Merida’s hair moved and worked exactly how my daughter’s hair does. Merida’s clothing as it became dirty, torn and tattered as the picture progressed was simply breathtaking in how hard I know that must have been to do.

    I do think that the movie did suffer a bit in the story department but not as bad as some are complaining here. Yes, the “turning into a bear” bit has been done before in a Disney film, but I’m thinking there were banking on the fact that no one actually saw “Brother Bear” anyway (I haven’t). If you’re going to steal, you might as well steal from yourself. And I liked the fact that Elinor as a bear was done as a real bear and not a stylelized version. That added a menacing quality tempered by her trying to remain in character. Yes this was treated a bit slapstickish, but honestly if you were magically transformed into a bear, I think it would take a while to learn to get around.

    I thought the whole conflict between Merida and her mother was pretty well done and I’m not sure that all of you that don’t have daughters understand this dynamic. My little girl is 6 and already I see this tension sometimes between her and her mother. I’m sure it will be real interesting when she’s a tween. You don’t have to spend a lot of time with the details of why, just that it is. Merida & Elinor are two different personality types, ages, roles and responsibilities. There will be conflict. I’m happy that Elinor realized that she’d gone too far in the burning of the bow scene. That saved her character from being completely two dimensional and unsympathetic early on.

    I’m a little surprised that no one noticed Elinor and Merida missing overnight into the next day despite the men getting locked on the tower roof for awhile. That’s a bit of a plot hole for me. At least Merida was missed by her mother during her foray with the witch. And speaking of the witch, she seemed to me an independent actor in this story…not malevolent but just a crazy old coot with serious OCD issues (bear carvings?). She’s so bear obsessed that it’s not a surprise that if you go to her for a spell, a bear will end up being involved. And yes, the answering machine joke is a bit anachronistic but not horrible. The idea was to take the witch out of the story as someone who could fix the problem while giving both Elinor and Merida the clue to fix the problem themselves (both figuratively and literally).

    It was useful at the end for all the teens to speak up for their own independence in making choices (the competition wasn’t their idea either). It also made the three suitors more than just forgettable characatures. Lastly, I was expecting some other kind of twist in the final transformation scene…this one played out much like Beauty and the Beast (and it was done better in that movie).

    One last joke…I liked the fact that one of the suitors Scottish was so thick that no one understood it…which is pretty much what many of us feel in real life talking to Scots. :)

    Overall, a solid B+. I look forward to the Blu-Ray where we might find out what the story changes were (many of the recent Pixar discs talk about story changes as “deleted scenes”.

    • ak

      I really agree with Sevenfeet about the mother daughter relationship in this movie. It is pretty realistic, and one of the best dialogue/plot moments in the movie was the “conversation” they wanted to have with each other but never got around to actually having face to face. My own relationship with my mother can definitely be like that. Beyond any other plot flaws, that was not one of them. Overall I also enjoyed the movie and even shed a little tear at the end. But what drives it home, is that when you are in the theater and you are listening to all of the kids laughing and getting all of the jokes and having a good time – that’s what counts, shtick and all. So even if I was hoping for a bit more, we all have to remember why we make these movies… they are to create the same memories for kids that old Disney movies like “Aladdin” and “Little Mermaid” created for us.

  • seann

    I think the main thing is that its a curse fable, and we as adults know the rythms of that. I found myself five minutes ahead of it, and I rarely think that way. I did find the mother as bear delightful.

    My real problem is that I have an expectation of pixar that is above any realistic standard. If it had come from any other studio, I would have thought it was amazing, but its just not pixararian enough.

    Also, the mother’s human design falls slightly into the uncanny valley for me.

  • Emily

    It’s strange to me that people would pick apart Brave’s story so much and praise Up, which was packed to the gills with story flaws, and definitely couldn’t choose what kind of story it was telling.

    I don’t think a Pixar film has to have EVERYTHING in it. This film focused on a particular character relationship, and IMO, succeeded. I was very moved by it, and didn’t feel like I was being Vaudevillian-style willed into feeling things like in the first ten-minutes of Up.

    Though films like Up and Walle are disguised as risky films simply because of their overall themes or characters’ profiles, I think Brave is…well…braver, in its actual story choices, and definitely more sincere of a film.

    • E. Nygma

      No Way, Wall-E and Up are the absolute best animated films. The best storytelling I think Pixar will do plus Ratatouille.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    I thought Brave was pretty good.
    At the very least it’s better than the unbearable Up and the weird Toy Story 3.
    And Ratatouille.
    And Cars 2.

  • http://weirdurl.com Zekey

    This movie had an old woman beating the crap out of a talking crow. It earned my 10 dollars.

  • Glowworm

    I took this movie from the viewpoint of a folk and fairy tale lover–rather than compare it to previous Pixar movies and immensely enjoyed it. Kudos to the writers for actually having the mother and triplets being naked after transforming back into their original forms.

    Yes, I will admit that some parts of the movie were predictable such as who the “demon bear” actually was and how the triplets transformed into bears, but it was still very enjoyable.

    Billy Connolly was fantastic as the king and those three triplets stole every scene they were in. I also loved that when the mother was a bear–unlike in “Brother Bear” she did not speak. My boyfriend and I got a kick out of her attempting to still act as a lady at times–such as eating with a fork and knife and attempting to cover herself.

    I will also admit I got a “Beauty and the Beast” vibe when Merida sobbed over her mother during the sunrise saying “I love you.” I could almost hear the “Transformation” music.

    Merida herself is a great character and very good for Pixar’s first film starring a female character.

    As for “La Luna” it was an absolute delight–I loved when the little boy was comparing the broom and mop to his father and grandfather’s facial hair.

  • Glowworm

    The backgrounds were breathtaking!

  • josh

    Im well aware of the seriousness in which some grown men take their cartoons… but holy crap, my six year old daughter was taken on a quite an emotional trip by this movie. She laughed, she cried, she was scared, and obviously taken by the artistry. She says it’s cool how they made the mother bear a perfect mix between a real bear and a cartoon. I liked it, it was alright, I’ll wind up seeing this many times and Im sure it’ll grow on me. So barring my own opinion, which is suspect anyways(don’t give me less than perfection), I was really happy to see my daughter so thoroughly moved by cinema.

  • cz

    blah,blah,blah. Animated features are all the same now. So many people flitter from one company to the next. They aren’t raising the bar, they are rushing to get under the lowest one.

  • http://popsmoothie.com/ Christina

    Merida’s horse was worth the price of admission. I also really enjoyed the character design of her father and the different clans.

    I thought the mother/daughter story was really beautiful. It really resonated for some reason. It was a good departure for Disney/Pixar to have a story with a female lead who does not need a man to live “happily ever after”.

    I just wish there had been the customary 2-d conceptual style animation over the credits at the end.

  • http://www.theirritants.com/idi abillion

    I have just viewed “Brave” for the first time. I think I may have figured out why it seems “off”. It is strange to me why most of the ratting on this film is about perceived story problems. Well, I loved nearly all production aspects; character and effects animation, design, historical research, layout, color scripts, lighting, textures, simulation (yeah, some very cool twisty hair there), the music mostly worked out well, and yes, even the story (granted the “Brother Bear” similarity) – BUT – it is the direction that is flawed. Brenda Chapman was replaced and with good reason. Don’t get me wrong, her story is wonderful. Though, I am not a fan of “Prince Of Egypt”, her previous directorial effort, It, and the first half of “Brave” suffer from specifically this: wrong readings of the dialog. The story is there, the script is there, but Ms. Chapman cannot direct actors.
    Look at the cast list – how can one coax a poor performance out of Emma Thompson? She is not likeable because her readings are flat, not because the character is supposed to be stern (which works fine story-wise). Same with Merida – all flowing animation and asides cannot help her line delivery – the director’s prob. The Witch – what a missed opportunity, despite the voice actress cast and the wonderful, wild character animation.
    One can also see where the Pixar Brain Trust stepped in to fix as much of these missteps as possible, with time and budget constraints, by implementing Andrews as new director bringing in well-played, silly sequences with the warriors that feel a bit out of place in the overall film (as well he is a ‘feature-greenhorn’ unlike say, established Brad Bird who was brought in to redo “Ratatouille” mid-production).
    I’ll wrap this blather by stating I really like the second half – the stories and characters arc and the performances hold. But the first half is as important if not more for we must have a character to follow whom we care about (Elinor, Merida or both). Chapman is boss at stories but not at directing.