Brave (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Brave (2012)

Back-to-back duds from Pixar? What’s next — the Apocalypse?

The writing was on the wall, however, when the opening short, “La Luna,” (about two men and a little boy shoveling little stars on the moon) — so long one of my favorite ingredients of this studio — comes across as overly artsy and not at all entertaining. That is nothing compared to their latest feature, Brave, though. It’s “Braveheart” meets “Jack Frost” (not the Michael Keaton movie, but the 1965 Finno-Soviet production about witches, bears and magic spells) and it is neither artsy nor particularly entertaining but instead clunky and confusing (and boasts one of the more ridiculous conclusions in recent memory).

But, this tale of dark forests, foreboding lochs and mystical pagan symbols weaved around the tale of a teenage princess coming of age in a man’s world is certainly nowhere near as dismal as “Cars 2.”

It’s medieval Scotland and the land is ruled by King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly, “Fido“) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson, “Men in Black 3“). They have three precocious red-haired triplet boys and a rebellious teenage daughter, Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2“).

Movie review of Brave (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Redheads are always trouble.

Merida, having reached the age of marriage (whatever THAT was in medieval Scotland), is forced to watch as a series of goof-balls vie for her hand. She objects to this ritual, but her mother the Queen insists on what amounts to a public humiliation of her daughter. This, predictably, creates a rift between mother and daughter, and Merida is soon running off, following a line of will-o-the-wisps straight to an evil, woodcarving witch.

Up until this point, Brave is beautiful. The lush colors of the Scottish landscape is captivating, the ethereal and beguiling blue-lit will-o-the-wisps are entrancing, the tale of the girl’s dilemma is intriguing and the cute hi-jinx of the three little boys is delightful. But once Merida, still angry over her perceived mistreatment, has a spell cast transforming her mother into a bruin, the film slows to an uncomfortable crawl (until the final showdown) and gets much too dark — especially for children expecting something entirely different.

Learning the true impact of the curse, Merida works feverishly to undo what she’s done. This leads to several pursuits including one that has her making a rousing speech to stop a war between kingdoms. The final battle, however, is quite the spectacle. Not necessarily in a good way though, as it takes place mostly in the black of night with frightening cruelty. The action is also further muddled with the unnecessary use of 3D technology. (Come to think of it, the 3D effects are more of a bane than a boost to the entire movie).

At least the voice talents of Connolly, Macdonald and others are authentic to the region and fit nicely with their respective characters.

So, sprouting from a long line of classic animated films such as “Finding Nemo,” “Wall-E,” and “Up,” among others, Brave proves once again the creators of these former masterpieces are indeed fallible and vincible.

And that is a very sad reality indeed.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
2 Star Rating: Bad


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Brave (2012)' have 21 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 20, 2012 @ 6:42 pm Maria

    Your review withstanding, I cannot wait to see this. It looks wonderful.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 20, 2012 @ 7:25 pm Gary

    Agree with much of what you say Greg. The movie was good just not great. It falls short of Pixar brilliance.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 5:12 pm BigBob

    Took the kids to see it earlier in the afternoon and loved it. It probably could have done without the bumbling bear stuff but it was good nonetheless.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 5:32 pm Go Gabba

    They did a good job fleshing out Merida and making her an accessible character. I can’t say the same for the rest (although the triplets were a lot of fun). The mother-daughter relationship was good early on and that story arc shouldn’t have been abandoned. Visuals were great.

    I’d give it a B-

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 5:43 pm Renee

    I just left this movie, My son and I LOVED it! Just one problem with your take on it. What about the Witch tells you she is EVIL? I felt just the opposite. Merida got EXACTLY what she asked for .. not exactly the way she expected but she got what she wanted. The character of the witch did not seem Evil in the slightest bit, and I was REFRESHED that for once a Disney movie did NOT portray a witch as evil. How you got that idea is beyond me!

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 6:13 pm Heather C

    Maybe its time Pixar isn’t held to some ridiculously high standard. Brave is a good movie all around — the animation is stunning, the story has emotion and the characters are well thought out. What more is expected?

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 6:54 pm ian michie

    You’re an idiot.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 7:50 pm Tyler

    I’ll bet that had Dreamworks released this, you’d have reviewed it differently.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 8:49 pm MathBling

    Not the finest Pixar flick I’ve seen, not the worst either.

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 22, 2012 @ 9:39 pm Darren

    The battle scenes are more violent than anything Pixar has done in the past, but it wasn’t so graphic that children can’t see it. My seven and nine year old went with me and weren’t fazed by anything they saw. Actually, they wanted to see it again….

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 23, 2012 @ 1:13 am Eliza

    The family loved it.

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 23, 2012 @ 11:03 am Jared

    They should have left the title “The Bear and the Bow” – it describes the movie so much better than “Brave” does.

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 23, 2012 @ 1:49 pm Karen Finnely

    I really enjoyed the movie. Even though I thought the pacing was off, the heavy focus on the characters and their relationships won me over.

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 23, 2012 @ 10:22 pm Mikeel

    I was a bit pissed off with how extreme the bear fight was. It scared the shit out of my 4 year old daughter.

  15. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 24, 2012 @ 4:48 pm Nancy

    I don’t know if we saw the same movie. The mother/daughter conflict was very touching – maybe you didn’t get it because you’re not a woman. Or maybe you just don’t get it..

  16. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 25, 2012 @ 9:48 am LeftBrained

    Felt a little clunky; not the best from Pixar. Two in a row – maybe the Disney influence is starting to cause more harm than good …?

  17. The Critical Movie Critics

    June 28, 2012 @ 4:04 pm Pete

    It’ll give company to A Bug’s Life and Cars 2 in the crappy portion of the Pixar DVD collection.

  18. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 4, 2012 @ 7:00 pm Sara

    Only Pixar can make me cry at an animated movie. Damn them.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      September 6, 2012 @ 2:15 pm Frankie

      The ending was so heartfelt.

  19. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 6, 2012 @ 1:04 am Beemo

    Only dud Greg is your review.

  20. The Critical Movie Critics

    August 9, 2012 @ 2:44 pm amanda kellic

    loved it. not sure what you saw but this was no mistep by Pixar.

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