Film Review: Brave
The only thing brave about Brave is Disney’s defiant decision to make a movie entirely to show off animated hair.
What is is this? An Xbox game?
TL;DR Everything is kinda cute and kinda quaint. But the pacing is horrifying. And Merida’s a selfish, dumb bitch. 2 out of 5 stars.
So Merida is some princess who, like, totally doesn’t wanna do all her princess duties. Then when her mum announces that her husband will be selected for her, she flips her shit and runs into the woods. Because angst. She meets a witch, the witch turns out to be a literal genie and gives Merida a spell to “change” her mother. Into a bear. And bears happen to be Merida’s father’s favourite thing to kill. So Merida has a finite amount of time to undo the spell before her mother cannot be changed back. Also, there’s some other evil bear thing floating around that randomly turns up when the screenwriters realise nothing has happened for 30 minutes.
Ugh, I wanted to like this movie. It’s actually got some worthwhile ideas behind it. Merida has gotta be the first Disney princess who hasn’t had a prince. And the movie doesn’t cop out at the end by showing her hooking up with one of the suitors. Feminism!
It’s also primarily about Merida and her mother. Two female leads and no leading man? Progressive.
But, like, nothing happens. The pacing is a real bastard. The first 30 minutes is mostly Merida sulking about how tough it is to be a wealthy princess who has parents who care about her. The middle third is just Merida and her mum (in bear form) prancing around the forest. Then the final act just falls into focus when Merida tries to return to the castle and the king tries to kill his wife (in bear form).
There’s no meaningful escalation in tension. Merida just rolls from one selfish act to another until the movie’s over.
Why I hate this movie:
Merida is a fucking dickhead. Her instructions for the spell are bizarrely vague. She wants to “change” her mother. She doesn’t even say “change her mind.” Just “change.” What did she think would happen?
Then when the spell goes awry, she flatly refuses to accept blame for it ever. At first she repeatedly says that it’s not her fault, it’s the witch’s. Then when she can’t find the witch, she just switches focus to trying to break the spell. She never properly acknowledges that it’s her fault that it happened. If anything she displaces the blame onto her mother for forcing her to storm off into the woods in the first place.
And she totally misinterprets the witch’s instructions on how to break the spell. “Mend the bond.” She thinks this means the torn tapestry from earlier. And while she does come to the realisation that her mother does love her etc etc she never really figures out that that’s what was important. And the dumbass only accidentally gets it right just in the nick of time. I think that Girl Power message might be a bit misplaced.
The triplet brothers are annoying. Did we learn nothing from Shrek’s babies?
All 3 of the suitors are ugly. Guess that explains why Merida don’t need no man.
Part of the suitor ritual involves them competing for Merida’s hand in a pursuit of her choosing: archery. After all 3 have had their shot, Merida steps in and is like “I’m gonna compete for my own hand in marriage!” Bitch, that’s against the rules. Rude.
When Merida and her mum have to survive in the wilderness, Merida puts her tomboyishness (which her mum had chastised her for) to good use. And is hugely smug about it. Because simply not accepting responsibility wouldn’t be frustrating enough. She also turns a couple of her mum’s phrases of advice against her. Which is exactly the way our hero should act when she’s just turned her mother into a bear because of her own selfishness. Protagonists these days.
The final chase of the men against mumBear happens because, when in wild mode, mumBear accidentally gives Merida a minor scratch. She freaks the fuck out and alerts the combined armies of the kingdom to her presence. Idiot.
Mor’dun, the evil bear, is only there to provide something to kill for the big finale.
Oh, and the message of the movie, helpfully explained in obvious detail via Merida’s ending narration, is some shit about fate living within us. Umm, everything in this movie happened because Merida was a fucking bitch to her mum and accidentally ran into a witch.
Reasons to watch:
Plot aside, there are a lot of new elements here that are refreshing. The fact that nobody has an American accent must have been tough for US viewers to follow. Poor things.
Although Merida’s family are royalty, the setting is surprisingly down-to-earth. No shiny palaces or pimped out dresses. Nice for a change.
This world allows female heirs, too. That’s pretty awesome. Something to think about, England.
Merida is impressively independent. She’s good with a bow and she eventually convinces her mother to abolish the suitor ritual.
The suitors agree, too. Which both helps Merida’s cause and is a massive burn for her: they don’t want to be forced to marry her either. I’m happy.
Much like The Lorax, the animation is superb. Dat hair.
Merida’s competing for her own hand in marriage is very Sue Sylvester. I lol’d.
After the archery stunt, Merida’s mum throws her bow into the fire. Merida runs off in tears. I lol’d.
The Wisps (little magic ghost things) lead Merida into horrible danger 3 times. First to the witch, second to Mor’dun’s lair, and third to the final showdown with Mor’dun. I see myself in them.
The witch’s crow is cute.
Merida’s dad understands how to treat the bitch. He locks her up and refuses to listen to her as he goes after mumBear. If only her mum had been that rough with her, none of this would have happened.
Oh, and the post-credits scene sees the crow making good on Merida’s deal with the witch and delivering all the carvings Merida agreed to buy. Continuity matters.
Brave is such a Blake Lively: it looks good but it doesn’t do anything. The progressive ideas in Brave don’t cover up the ambling plot and heinous lead character. Seriously, Merida is a bitch. 2 out of 5 stars.