Directed By: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and John Ratzenberger

Brave was not exactly what I expected.  From the movie’s trailer, I thought the film would follow the path of animated films like Mulan where the female protagonist bucks tradition and takes on a role or activities that are usually reserved for men.  While Brave does have some of those elements, it is more about mother-daughter relationships a la Freaky Friday.

Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is a teenage princess growing up in the Scottish Highlands.  Her parents Elinor (Emma Thompson) and Fergus (Billy Connolly) are the king and queen.  Merida loves to ride horses through the mountains, shoot arrows, swordfight and climb mountains.   Meanwhile, her mom Elinor is trying to prepare her for a life as a future queen.  Elinor wants her to be ladylike and to follow proper etiquette.  She would prefer to see Merida with a needle in her hand instead of a bow and arrow. 

The two routinely clash, but matters reach a boiling point when Elinor invites the four clans of the Highlands together to compete in a contest for Merida’s hand.  All of the clan leaders present their first born child to compete in a bow and arrow battle.  Horrified at the prospect of being forced to wed a stranger and give up her freedom, Merida decides to compete for her own hand.  Much to the embarrassment of her mother, Merida annihilates the competition, humiliating the men who are competing for her hand and causing a rift between the king and his clansmen.

Subsequently, Elinor and Merida have a huge fight resulting in Merida fleeing to the woods.  She stumbles upon a witch and Merida asks for one wish.  The young princess believes that if she changes her mother, she will change her fate.  The witch gives her a cake to feed her mother and then Elinor’s fate will be changed.  Of course, the witch’s spell does not go as planned and Merida spends the rest of the film trying to correct a terrible mistake.  Both Elinor and Merida must learn to work together and respect and appreciate their differences and strengths.

Brave is an interesting, though not groundbreaking, film.  In terms of the animation, Pixar is second to none.  The sweeping landscapes and the imagery take viewers straight into the Scottish Highlands.  The cinematography was so enchanting that, after I left the theater, I contemplated logging onto Expedia and checking for vacation packages to Scotland.  Pixar continues to push the envelope and Brave sets a high standard for 3D animation.

In terms of the plot, I think it is a good message for families.  For parents, you need to allow your children to chart their own paths.  You can guide them, but they must take control of their own destiny.  For kids, it reinforces the idea that mom and dad aren’t ogres. They just want what is best for their children.  So thematically, it is a nice family film.  However, I found it to be a bit predictable and safe.  I don’t think the film broke any new ground.  After watching Brave, I did not feel the same way that I felt after I saw Shrek (the first one only), The Incredibles or Toy Story.  Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was expecting something more—a story that hadn’t been told before.  I didn’t get that.  Brave simply was not brave enough.

With that said, the film is beautifully directed and has some serious comic relief via Merida’s little rascally brothers. Brave earns a 0.06% rating.

If you are a fan of animations such as the many Disney Pixar movies, then why not visit LOVEFiLM and start a free 30 day trial. This enables you to watch films online which include a category of animations.