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Film Review: Brave (2012)

Brave (2012)

imdb.com/ Disney-Pixar

Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson

Running time: 93 min

Rating: 2/5

I finally got around to watching Brave after reading about so much of the hoopla surrounding the “new” illustrations Disney was proposing of Brave‘s Princess Merida.

Apparently parents who felt Merida was a fantastic role model for their daughters were up in arms over her big reveal, which took place ahead of her coronation at Disney World. It seems the newer version of Merida was oversexualized and even featured her wearing the very gown she detested in the movie!

As I had zero clue what any of this meant, I decided to finally watch Brave in order to put all of this into context.

First, the review.

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In an undetermined time in the past, we meet Merida (voice of Macdonald), a carefree tomboy who lives in the moors of Scotland as a Princess, along with her parents, the king (voice of Connelly) and queen (voice of Thompson). Merida is given her first bow and arrow by her father, and masters them quickly.

One fine day at breakfast, the queen abruptly informs her daughter that three families will be arriving shortly to compete for Merida’s hand. Merida instantly rejects the idea, but her parents insist the competition must take place.

When the three families arrive, the fathers present their sons to the royal family. None of the suitors suits Merida who finds all three young men gangly fools. At the ensuing archery competition, Merida famously throws back her hood, revealing her rebellious flame-red curls and shouts, “I’ll be shootin’ fer me own hahnd!”

Here, I thought, here is the anthem by which the remainder of the film will march.

Nope.

Merida kicks butt, to be sure, hitting a bullseye each time, and even splitting an arrow already in the bullseye, sending her arrow right through the target. My heart soared. This was a Disney princess I could be proud of, or so I thought.

imdb.com/ Disney-Pixar

After this act of defiance, the queen berates her daughter in the privacy of her bedroom and Merida takes flight upon her trusty steed soon thereafter. She meets a witch in the forest, who sells Merida a spell, promising that it will “change” her mother. Mom basically turns into a bear, and Merida is forced to hide with her temporarily in the forest and away from her father, who lost a leg in a prior ursine tussle.

The rest of the movie is concerned with finding a way to change the queen back to her human form, keeping her father distracted throughout, and reconciling differences between Merida and her mother.

I really wanted to like this movie. Honestly. But so much was lacking in the story that it was impossible not to walk away, glad that I hadn’t wasted money watching this in the theater.


I really wanted to like this movie. Honestly. But so much was lacking in the story that it was impossible not to walk away, glad that I hadn’t wasted money watching this in the theater.

There is no real established conflict: first it was getting out of an arranged marriage; then there is the tension between mom and daughter; finally, there is the ridiculous business of the queen in bear’s clothing. There is also no real villain, the lack thereof rendering an otherwise potentially good story useless. Merida wastes a perfectly good opportunity to go on a quest, or “journey of the self” in order to visit a witch (who isn’t even evil!) and goes right back home to administer the spell.

Some alternate endings could be:

  • Merida rides off on her horse to another village, picks up some new ideas, learns a thing or two about how much her parents love her, meets a nice guy, gets married.
  • Merida secretly dresses as a man and competes in the tournament. As she is clearly superior to the morons competing against her, she easily carries the day, then reveals her true identity. Her parents are stunned, yet feel a new respect for her and call off their dogs.
  • The witch is in fact, evil, and makes Merida jump through all kinds of hoops to reverse the spell.

Bottom line: If you missed this movie, you didn’t miss much. The only thing worth seeing is the detail in Merida’s gorgeous, fiery, curly tresses…and that’s pretty much it.

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