Princess Merida loves adventures. Her idea of a good time is riding her horse through the wilderness with her bow strapped to her back. However, her mother Queen Elinor does not think her passions are appropriate for a princess. She subjects Merida to regular lessons on how to be a proper princess and in return, Merida gets one day a year to do whatever she wants. But Merida is getting older, and Elinor decides the time had come for her to meet her suitors from the neighboring kingdoms. Merida is furious and thinks she is too young to be thinking about suitors and marriage but her mother thinks it’s high time she accepted she is a princess and start acting like one. Merida tries to prove her point as the suitors fight for her hand but her mother refuses to budge leading Merida to take matters into her own hands. She seeks out a witch to cast a spell that will change her fate but gets much more than she bargains for.
This is Pixar’s first film with a female lead and it is quite a tender story about a mother and daughter learning to swallow their pride for the one they love. I feel like anyone can identify with the very common clash and it’s done in a really respectful way, giving each side a strong argument and not making anyone the bad guy. This is another fine example of Pixar being the masters of creating empathy. However, the trailer was very misleading, implying the central action would be Merida going on an epic quest by herself where she faces many challenges etc. While it seems Pixar is all right with having a female protagonist, perhaps they didn’t believe an audience would line up for a film about lady issues.
One thing I will say about this film, there are way more bears than I expected. I was expecting no bears and I got a lot of bears. Also, the film’s midpoint is a drawn out, with a lot of chasing and hiding, that makes you assume they weren’t sure what to do so they made everyone run around for a while. There were two directors for this film, original director Brenda Chapman left the project unexpectedly and was replaced with Mark Andrews so maybe these scenes are symbolic of the crew running around, not certain of the project’s future.
While many were disappointed with Brave and questioned Pixar’s ability to still make great films, I’m not worried. Brave is still better than most films out there and still contains a lot of what makes Pixar such a quality studio. There’s a lot of tenderness at its core, and while a lot of the wackier moments seem a little off, it’s nowhere near as the mindless as a lot of other children’s films. There are very few films in cinema’s history as perfect as the Toy Story series or Up so I am willing to give Pixar a pass if a film is simply “pretty good”.