Brave is the new film from Disney Pixar directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman (The Prince of Egypt), and co-directed by Steve Purcell. I remember the trailers for this film being quite enticing. It showed beautiful scenery and an interesting story about a girl being forced into a clan’s tradition of marriage. So yes, both were in the movie… but they should have stuck to just that. Instead, they decide to play purely to the kids market and have Brave delve into magic. While the inclusion of magic could have been interesting if consistent with the rest of the plot, it instead side-lined the whole first third of the movie. Obviously Disney is a child-focused organisation, but surely they can stick to a promising storyline without making it silly. However, the film went on to tell the tale of how Brave needed to un-do her magic, while the beginning plot of finding a suitor went down the pan loosely tied up in the second third.
Character-wise, the two main characters: brave and her mother’s intentions were well portrayed. We understood Brave’s need to be free, while we also understood her mother’s want for her to be a traditional princess. What we didn’t see was anything else. These characters had no other traits. The mother was obsessed with making Brave into a princess, while Brave just wanted to run off… and that was it. This made their decisions very plot driven and stopped the characters going their own way. It made the whole thing very predictable and meant the film needed other characters to drive it forward. Not that the other characters were much to mention. The three sons were unnecessary and the three suitors (and their fathers) weren’t distinguishable enough. On top of the weak character development came a weak backstory that was briefly mentioned just so they could add a scary bear in at the end.
Overall, the animators and actors did well, but the plot wasn’t thought out enough. It was choppy and swapped aims part way through, to then be decorated with a scattering of backstory and be tied up with a piece of string. What was quite a promising movie went in the complete wrong direction, relying on cheap humour and attempts at creating tension. What Disney should have done is stuck to the ‘suitors’ thing and brought in more information about the ancient folktale that was briefly dotted about. Kudos however, to: the composer, Patrick Doyle (also composed for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Thor), Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis, British folk rock group Mumford & sons, singer Birdy and songwriter Alex Mandel, for the beautiful soundtrack that becomes the best part of the movie.