I don’t normally write movie reviews, but I feel so strongly about Pixar’s newest release, I’m making an exception–especially since a recent post centered on the value of princess stories.
We were incredibly excited about Brave. Pixar Studios has consistently released films that are not just fantastic movies, but challenging tales that reach both children and adults. Up, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3 (just to name my top 5) have taken us on unexpected adventures with characters we love to places we never thought we’d go. Pixar has been a pioneer not just in animation, but in story-telling as well. I grew up with these films. Toy Story was released when I was in 5th grade; Finding Nemo, just weeks before I graduated high school (and you better believe I saw it in the theater). I love sharing these stories with my daughter because these movies tell stories as well as a novel (and BETTER than some popular novels _cough cough *Twilight* cough cough_)
Stories like those, no matter what the medium, need to be told.
My deep appreciation and love for Pixar films obviously led me to have extremely high expectations for Pixar’s first female protagonist and princess, Merida.
The posters looked compelling.
The trailers felt compelling.
“If you could change your fate, would you?”
The tagline is compelling.
We were ready for an epic princess adventure.
But it wasn’t compelling. Instead of a vibrant, fresh approach to what Disney has been doing for nearly 80 years, Brave felt forced and flat.
Really, Pixar? Why even produce this movie? It clearly panders to the merchandising department…”Oooo, now we can sell bows and arrows on the girls’ aisle, too!” and perhaps was an attempt at capturing young female and male viewers. Brave was far more violent than I expected it to be. (Concerned mothers: the 4- and 5-year old girls I had with me were frightened by the bears of which the previews make no mention.)
What purpose did the story serve? A “feminist” attempt at a princess story in which the princess doesn’t end up married? You don’t have to see the movie to know it won’t end with the traditional happily ever after. There aren’t any prince dolls on the shelves with Merida at Target, thus there couldn’t be a prince in the movie. (Merchandising 101)
I’m perfectly happy without the prince. Smash the stereotype to your heart’s content, John Lasseter. But the “fate” of which the tagline speaks is marriage. There’s nothing wrong with marriage! Forced marriage, sure. But not marriage itself! Do we really want to teach our little girls that turning their moms into bears and nearly causing a tribal war is what you have to do to get out of marriage? Really?
Unfortunately, though the visuals were stunning and it was certainly different than anything they’d released before, the characters were one-note and the story lacked depth. Merida was her own antagonist and they didn’t explore the issues enough to make her struggle convicting.
It was a huge opportunity to shift the paradigm and all they managed to do was make me appreciate Tiana, Rapunzel, and the traditional princesses more.