Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brave?

I took my kids to see "Brave" last Friday.

I admit, I was excited. I don't go to the movies much, but it seems like every time we've gone in the past year, we've seen a trailer for it. It seemed promising: Pixar is a quality outfit, the lead looks just like my daughter Red Bear, everyone loves movies about Scottish people fighting, and you naturally assume that when a studio blows that much money promoting a movie, it's gotta be good.

Well - the animation was excellent. The voices were excellent. The look of the characters was excellent. The music was not that great (they should have used more ancient sounding music, to match the time period), but potentially, we could have given them a pass on that. The real killer was that the story was surprisingly, disappointingly, thin.

And that's what I don't get. How can that much work go into every facet of a movie - the promotion, the voices, the animation, etc. - without a corresponding amount going into the story itself? The story is the basis of the whole thing. That has to be robust, compelling, and believable. It has to make sense. Once the basics are in place, the story needs to be fleshed out, with supporting characters, and a compelling subplot or two.

"Brave" rounded second, but never made it home. It is the story of a young princess named Merida, whose dad, the king, is an amiable doofus, and whose mother (Queen Eleanor) wants her to marry whichever suitor wins a contest. But Princess Merida doesn't want to get married. She wants to ride horses and enjoy her talent for archery. After an argument with her mother about the whole situation, Merida consults with a witch, who promises Merida a way out. The witch then turns Queen Eleanor into a giant bear.

The rest of the movie consists of Merida and her mother - as a bear - trying to figure out how to turn her back into the queen. Actually, not true - they find out pretty quickly how to turn her back. But, they just don't get around to it until the last, pseudo-cliffhanging moment. Hm. Also, Merida and her mother find another large bear out in the ruins of an old castle, who had previously been a prince, and who had previously tried to kill the king. There is some mother-daughter bonding/reconciliation, as they fish out in the woods. And there is some overreaching on the part of the director (some lady I'd never heard of) to try to create dramatic moments, when the drama has not really been generated by the story itself.

Aside from the comical depictions of the suitors, none of the jokes work. A bit more comedy would have been good, especially in the form of "Timon and Pumba" style supporting actors. But there was none of those. What character arc there is for Merida, was not particularly dramatic. And while it was obviously important for Merida to turn her mother back into a human, we could have used even higher stakes (like, if she doesn't turn her mother back into a human, the entire kingdom is overtaken by evil invaders - hell, anything). There was also no real subplot, and hardly any main plot at all. It just wasn't enough.

There was a whole lot of work put into making this movie, but the core story structures, and their development, were just not there. I'd give it maybe a 6.3/10.

4 comments:

dtmmr said...

Good review Tal. Had a lot of fun with this one for the first half or so, but then after that, things started to go downhill for me and it lost my focus. Usually, I love the heck out of Pixar films but this one didn’t do much for me, except give me plenty of eye-candy to gaze at.

Jessica said...

Nice to see you blogging again:)
Been a while since I was here also.

I've actually been curious about Brave since it's described as fantasy, which I like. Here in Sweden we will see it on cinema in late August...but maybe I should wait for the DVD-release then;)
/Jessica from Sweden

Jessica said...

Nice to see you blogging again:)
Been a while since I was here also.

I've actually been curious about Brave since it's described as fantasy, which I like and the movieposter is beautiful:)) Here in Sweden we will see it on cinema in late August...but maybe I should wait for the DVD-release then;)
/Jessica from Sweden

Melissah said...

I'm glad there weren't any spoilers. I kinda figured that she'd figure out how to turn her mother back, the only thing I want is to know how.

I appreciate your review, it is very good to know not to expect a cerebral activation, right about now, entertainment is my key goal. Sadly, you have broken alot of my expectation of it to be a cathartic journey, complete with humor occassionally as the trailers suggest.

But the ultimate draw for me is the reccomendation of a friend of mine who had dinner with his pals at pixar who said that "Brave" and "Nemo 3D" were must see material. His advice is usually dead on an his one friend in particular was actually a huge contributor to it and The Incredibles. And I figurd that if so much time has reallypassed to make me old and obselete, maybe Pixar will have improved, too. the whole "wet hair" scenes in the Incredibles amazed me, and anothe commenter mentioned "eye candy" which suggest to me that I can expect visual amazement and appreciation again. And I figure it is a cartoon so it will be safe for the young innocent minds that I've been charched with nurturing.