Disney/Pixar's Brave is a film that many people don't seem to like, with many disliking it because of a significant event that happens to Merida's mum and the direction that the film takes following that event. I on the other hand, really like this film; It's not perfect, but it has a lot of good things going for it.
This film follows the story of Marida, a 16-year-old princess who loves artery, and is very good at it for that matter. She loves living her life of independence and quite frankly hates her role as a princess. She loves adventure and riding through the Scottish glens, firing arrows at targets that (I presume) she placed along the way.
Everything is going well for Merida until one day when Merida's Mother, Queen Elinor, reveals that the neighbouring clans had accepted her invitation to nominate one of their sons to come and marry Merida. Merida was understandably annoyed by this, and so began the tension between Queen Elinor and her daughter which they must resolve while also dealing with another significant event later on in the film.
My Thoughts After Watching
I love the messages that this film passes on to its audience. It tells us that everyone should be free to be themselves and shouldn't be forced to do things that they aren't ready for, or flat out don't want to do, such as arranged marriage or other traditional events. As a side-note, I hate that arranged marriage is still a thing, it's terrible and ruins lives.
Brave also shows that people's lives aren't miserable if they don't rush into marriage, I mean Merida seems to be having her blast as she lets her "hair flow in the wind as [she] ride[s] through the glen firing arrows into the sunset." as King Fergus said in a comedic impersonation of his daughter.
This story wasn't all good though and did have its problems, it was a bit too slow paced at times, and they did take the whole "men like to fight" thing way too far, they fought way too much. There were some other little annoyances here and there, from little comments to actions that the characters performed.
The big turning point in Brave, that everyone seems to complain about, didn't bother me at all, I actually liked it.
Overall, the story had a lot of humour, and I feel like the writers, as well as everyone else involved in the story, did a great job of making it.
For me, most of the humour came from King Fergus; he never took anything too seriously and had to get a frequent prodding from his wife to stop him behaving in a way that she didn't approve.
As you can imagine Queen Elinor is a VERY controlling character and is very much the person who is ruling the land through her husband. She is the person that I saw to have the most significant character arc throughout the film, and while I do feel like that change is a bit too quick and unnatural, although I do think that it was necessary due to obstacles that her and her daughter, Merida, had to come.
Merida loves her mother and the rest of her family but is also a strong, confident character who stands up for her rights and values her freedom. Merida seems to have no interest in marriage at all and isn't ready for it (or may never be prepared for it as she says).
Due to her character traits, I found her to be an excellent role model for her audience, many of whom will have seen "damsel in distress" princesses from prior Disney films and may not have seen a strong female main character before. She may not handle all of the situations in the right way, but that's fine, she's still human.
One way that Pixar shows Merida's humanity is through her very well animated hair. Merida has long curly red hair, something which I imagine some of the Pixar animators will have had nightmares about (I hope that they didn't though I'm a good person I promise XD). I made a video dedicated to how Pixar made Merida's hair; a lot went to making her hair look as good as it does. The hair looks natural throughout the film and is a significant milestone in animation.
They didn't stop there though, the environment also looks lush and beautiful, and the characters are well designed to fit their personalities; I especially like the stealthy, mystical look of the wisps, a small ghostly creature found in Scottish folklore.
Brave's soundtrack feels very Scottish with both lyrical and non-lyrical tracks sounding like they've been pulled straight out of Scotland. The songs are all great, with Into The Open Air and Learn Me Right being songs that deserve a lot more attention IMO, and the score fitting well with the story. I also love the Scottish accent, but I won't let that affect my film rating, I did like the voice actors anyway though, they did a great job.
Overall this was a film that I enjoyed, and I remember for its tackling of sensitive topics and its departure from the norm of princess films. I love it from beginning to end, and I like that they didn't make Merida fall head over heels for the first prince that came her way (I even have suspicions that she may be asexual, is she the first LGBTQA+ Princess?).
As I said in the introduction, Brave isn't perfect, but I do feel like it gets more criticism than it deserves. I'm giving this film a 9/10; I enjoyed it a lot. I would recommend giving it a watch.