Scene It All Before: Brave

Pixar has been one of the most brilliantly run studios in Hollywood for some time.  They churned out movie after movie which grossed them over 100 million dollars, sold more in toys, garnered critical acclaim, and won awards.   Their last endeavor Cars 2 was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect record.  It seemed that everyone who worked there was passionate about their projects and wanted to be there. The only complaint really being that it was considered kind of a boys club, so what do they do, with their 13th movie they put in a strong female protagonist that’s central issue deals with the relationship between mother and daughter.  From the outset Brave looked like a home-run but a major plot point in the second half changes this movie’s fate and it becomes something different entirely.

Any of the first teasers that came out made it seem like it was going to be an intense mixture of adventure and magic.  But then those behind the scenes decided to not use any of the footage from the trailer in the movie.  Despite that even the first sequence laid the groundwork for an epic adventure tale.  The visuals are absolutely stunning in this movie and the music is enchanting.  It places you in the exact mood you need to be in for a movie that is all about a princess who changes her fate.

Nothing about the plot is all that ingenious when it comes to daughter being forced to marry against her will (On a side-note: I have been seeing a lot of female empowerment movies recently, you go girls).  Merida is an independent girl with the heart of a warrior and does not want to be married off just because of some tradition, while her mother has been training her to be queen her whole life.  Merida would much rather explore the outdoors and practice her archery on horseback all day.  From here the movie still has all the potential in the world to be something great and could very well be.

But then something happens, about halfway through the movie a major plot point occurs and throws any credibility the movie was building towards into the water.  I don’t want to give the plot point away, as it is supposed to be a twist I think, but if you would like a hint please click here for everyone else just move on.  All of a sudden the movie moves away from female empowerment into a slapstick session, which was completely unnecessary as there are plenty of laughs everywhere else in the movie.  The toughest part about the plot point is it becomes the main focus of the story, so while I can say I liked everything about this movie except this one detail it becomes a MAJOR detail.  From here on to the end it seems that everything the movie was building to is forgotten in order to wrap the story up.

It almost feels as if Pixar doesn’t care anymore.  Whether it is giving Larry The Cable Guy a whole movie, finding out where Sully and Mike matriculated from, or frankly giving the boys club a story about female empowerment. It seems there is less effort being put in at the studio to come up with groundbreaking ideas.  All of Pixar’s movies before this have been about guys and boys and growing up and been told from that point of view.  Pixar’s movies have been great in the past because they were writing from somewhere they know; you could feel a personal investment in the story.  While Brenda Chapman wrote the story and helped direct, the rest of her main staff are men.  So a story about a mother-daughter relationship being told from the perspective of boys may have been one of the problems with developing the full potential of the story.

The movie does come back around and the climax of the movie features some very touching scenes.  Plus I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up just a little bit with the Scottish music playing in the background and a little girl coming over to give her Mom a big hug and tell her that she loves her.  There is a beautiful movie in here somewhere evidenced by these last moments, the sweeping Irish landscape, and the beautiful music, but that one moment really turned off any momentum the movie built towards.  Even the plot points that occur following the twist are more believable.  It really is just frustrating they took the movie in that direction.  And after that there was no coming back for Brave.  B-


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