Disney Pixar Brave Review

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Features, The Disney Review

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Published on June 22, 2012 at 11:25 pm with 18 Comments

During the screening of Brave, there were times that I forgot I was watching an animated movie. I’m still not sure if that is high praise for the artistry or the technology. By far, the film is incredibly impressive as a work of art. If you’ve seen any of the advertising for the film, then you know that Merida’s hair is its own character (well, not really, but it garners a lot of attention) and plays so well against the muted colors that make up the Scottish landscape. There were times that I was marveling about her hair and lost where I was in the film.

One thing that Pixar does so much better than anyone else is creating a caricatured human character that does not look out of place in the photo-realistic world. Animals have always been much easier to animate, regardless of the medium, and it took years for animators to create believable human characters. Brave has reached a new height in animating human characters. By far, King Fergus, even though he was a bear of a character, still seemed to be the most grounded in reality; he seemed less of a caricature than the others.

I took my wife and two boys to see the film. The boys are 13 and 8 and have seen most of the Disney/Pixar films in the theaters. I did leave the theater with the impression that the film was a little violent for the under five set. My wife disagreed and felt that most kids would be okay with the fight scenes in the film’s climax. Most of the time that violence was displayed, it was in a darkened area, at night or in the heavy fog, so it wasn’t as prevalent. There were some frightening moments with the villain of the story and the scenes reminded me of the wolf attack in Beauty and the Beast.

My eight year-old thought the film was exciting and funny. He laughed during the funny parts and was completely engrossed. I have a meter that I gauge films on based on my youngest’s response. If he doesn’t ask for a bathroom break, then I know he is enjoying it. He asked to go to the bathroom twice during Cars 2. He didn’t move from his seat during The Muppets or the Avengers. He also asked about buying a bow and arrow set. I feel so sorry for our dogs! The thirteen year-old denied to comment saying that it would be too embarrassing to be quoted in his dad’s column. Sigh. But he was smiling and laughing during the film.

So, did I like the film?

I really did. I went into the movie knowing that it was going to be spectacular and visually stunning. I had high hopes for the story, since this is a Pixar film. When I left the theater, I felt charmed but not exuberant. It really is a story about family, like most Pixar films and the focus really is on the mother-daughter relationship. Being the parent of a teenager, I could really relate to the King and Queen as parents in the film.

The characters were well-designed and well-acted. Pixar knows how to make a character grow and feel alive. The voices were superb and I never focused on the actor more than the character. The plot did seem more like a Disney film as opposed to what we have seen with Pixar. It was still better than most films, but I felt like I wanted more from Pixar. The surprise was that they had some great characters with the triplets and their screen time wasn’t as much as I would have enjoyed.

This movie is still going to generate a lot of press for the Company and a lot of money. With the slate of other animated films due out this summer, it does have some competition. But even looking at the previews, the other films won’t be able to touch the depth of beauty that this film attains. Or even the story, as a guess.

What did you think of Brave?

By George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

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About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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  • dsnygrl13

    I saw it last night and I loved it. Finally a Disney movie that they don’t kill off the mom!

    • George Taylor

      That is an interesting point! There are a lot of main character in Disney films that have lost their parents. Obviously, this draws sympathy from the audience. This film is obviously meant to invoke feelings of familial happiness.

  • unclemike

    I saw it yesterday and I really liked it. Maybe not as much as Wall-E or UP, but a lot better than Cars 1 & 2. I would see it again :-)

    • George Taylor

      Thanks for the comment!

      I was sitting in the theater as the credits rolled and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to see it again or not. I will get it on Blu-ray for sure…

  • mratigan

    I’m in San Francisco and when to Emeryville and saw it there and loved it
    It did seem different than most Pixar films but don’t know why (ot because of the main chater being a girl)

  • Wendygirl

    I loved it. Animation is spectacular! During a couple of the fight scenes, especially the one in the bedroom there was a small child (I believe a little girl) who did start to cry and she cried again during a fight scene toward the end. Yes it is different than what we have come to expect from Pixar but different can be good. I think they need to bring a horse out that looks like Angus at the Meet N Greet with Merida at Disneyland! They’re bringing horses out to be looked at and petted at Big Thunder Jamboree so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

  • Anthony Hays

    We are going to see this when we are in California in 10 days! Yay!

  • Susan Hughes

    Several people have mentioned that Brave seemed different from the usual Pixar films. It may have to do with this being Pixar’s first fairy tale. And fairy tales have that certain mystique about it. None of the previous Pixar movies were like that, despite their obvious fantasy themes.
    As for the animation, I think traditional animation no longer works in this day and age. Sure, we will always love the Disney classics, but CGI is just the way of the modern movie-goer. Disney gave it a try with Princess and The Frog and Winnie The Pooh. But times have changed and their box office numbers proved that.

  • roxy72

    I just got back from seeing it half an hour ago- the movie made me cry and ‘awww’ more than I had expected! However- the 4 year old or so little girl who sat next to me was super scared during a lot of the bear scenes, and kept asking her daddy to take her home and/or cover her eyes. Just something to keep in mind, as I agree that the under-5 set may find certain scenes too scary.

  • Bronco21

    Wow. I feel like I’m the only one who felt that this film was a step under everything Pixar has done (except maybe a bug’s life). I agree that the animation of the characters and the sets was incredible! However, after having made movies that cause me to connect with even the lesser important characters (Doug from UP, Mo from Wall-e, ect), Brave didn’t even do that for me with the main character! Merida was strong willed but nothing in the movie ever really felt like I personally connected with her. In Nemo I connected with Marlin because he lost his family, in Toy story I connected with Woody because someone had forced his way in between him and Andy, ect. I never really felt the same connection and great understanding of the characters in Brave. It felt like maybe a few scenes were missing that would help to solidify the connection. The same kind of scenes occured in UP (the opening scene helps us connect with Eli and Mr. Fredrickson), Finding Nemo (baracuda scene), ect. The lack of this kind of emotional scene really held back the film.

    • George Taylor

      I think viewers are having a hard time with the film since Pixar didn’t knock it out of the park like they’ve done previously. The film is beautiful on so many levels, but the story had a few questions. There were some very emotional scenes, but in my opinion, there were also some very frightening scenes.

    • Queentitania19

      You’re not the only one. While I am a huge devoted Pixar fan this film felt half baked to me. It needed a little more to make it a fully realized story. First of all, visually freaking stunning (duh) and I’m pretty sure I might have paid just to go see Merida’s hair and the animation on her and her mom’s dresses. I could see the weave on the cotton for gods sake. However, the movie overall was a bit disappointing. You can totally tell where the new director came in halfway because the movie shifts gears so hard it almost gave me whiplash. It goes from campy, happy comedy to deadly serious action flik. They also never explain why exactly Merida equates marriage with loss of freedom or why she doesn’t want to do it. They make it crystal clear from the beginning that her mother wears the pants in Clan Dunbroch and that all major decisions are hers. Her parents love each other and only occasionally (usually about Merida) disagree. So what makes her hate the idea of so much that she is willing to start a civil war? Why DOES she equate marriage with lack of freedom, particularly when looking at her mother? No one knows… Think about that for a second. Our “plucky heroine” admits freely that there will be a war and hundreds of men will probably die because she doesn’t want to get married and she DOESN’T CARE. How am I supposed to sympathize with that? She isn’t even the tiniest bit hesitant or conflicted when she utterly humiliates three proud violent clan chiefs even though she knows that they are clinging to peace with their fingertips. Just felt incomplete as a storyline for me. Of course, everyone should go see it because it’s freaking beautiful and there are some really funny scenes and good actions sequences that are totally worth it but I’m thinking that the Pixar B team has some work to do if they want to measure up to the Brain Trust as directors.

  • vnormth

    My family thoroughly enjoyed it too, BUT we all agreed something big was missing.

    There needed to be more between the king and queen. Merida needed to have a confidant, side-kick or foil (maybe use the maid who was otherwise so irrelevant to the story except for protecting the key) and the queen should have broken the bow (not pushed it into the fire and then retrieved it) and then, strong as a bear, bent and folded her crown (which was ignored the rest of the story!) to repair it for her daughter.

    The ties that were were there weren’t strong enough, and the brokenness that got repaired wasn’t big enough.

    This movie is not worth all the hype. Ice Age will and Madagascar did do better this summer.

  • Musashi

    I loved it. Cried more than I thought I would, absolutely adored the triplets, and loved the family dynamics. I’ve seen it three times (I have a lot of different Disney friends) and am going again tonight!

    • George Taylor

      I loved the triplets, too! I just wish they had been more involved in the story.

  • stellemarie

    I agree with you on many parts. Especially the more intense scenes for the little ones. We had a little girl near us who needed to be escorted out because she was crying during one of the fight scenes. I did also think that it was scary, but you are right… that scene in BatB is just about the same except shorter?

    I didn’t have many expectations for the film because I could never tell what it was really about from the previews. (Now I know why.) I thought it was a gorgeous film and so many times I would have to remind myself I was watching animation and not a real film. That horse was so realistic!

    Totally agree with you on the Disney feel. Had a bit of Brother Bear, Snow White, Tangled, and more in there. But I still feel like the animation, the emotion they create, and the connection with the audience is pretty much spot on. Is it my favorite Pixar movie? No. Is it in my top 5? Hm. Probably not. But I thought it was really nice to see a female main character who was flawed and getting pissy with her mom for REAL reasons, not something totally superficial.

    I really can’t wait to see it again, and I hope it continues to do well!

  • stellemarie

    And P.S. I totally cried a lot. So that’s a winner of a movie for me.

  • Stephanie Hamilton

    Am I the only one that was horrified to see nudity in a Disney film!?! Yes, the story was interesting, the scenery was beautiful, the characters were entertaining. Of course there are scores of little boys that laughed at the bare bottoms parading across the screen (I should mention the animation was realistic). I am sure there were chuckles when the extremely heavy chested baker stuffed a key down her shirt and the boy later dove down her shirt to retrieve it. I missed the delightful addition of the bears turning back into boys without any clothes because WE LEFT THE THEATER. I would not dream to take my children, nor would I go myself, to a movie where a string of men showed their rear ends and I am extremely disappointed we saw it on a Disney Pixar film! I had to remind myself I wasn’t watching something from the Shrek family of films. Some would say, “It is a PG. You should have expected a step above a G film.” Intense scenes, ok…dramatic storyline, I get it. This is a completely new category for Disney AND for Pixar! I have always loved Disney animated films and I have enthusiastically praised Pixar films for their incredible stories and clever jokes. Now I see them no better than any other studio that will do whatever it takes for a laugh. I cannot adequately express my disappointment in Disney Pixar and I am appalled at the lack of outcry about this!