Synopsis: Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, "Brave" features Merida, an aspiring archer and impetuous daughter of royalty. Merida makes a reckless choice that unleashes unintended peril and forces her to spring into action to set things right.
My thoughts: With its usual charm, Pixar delivers another fine movie, save for a letdown, which I'll explain later. Their animation captures the characters and their habits perfectly, and it couldn't be done any other way. They also continue their creativity, both in script and animation (which were yet again incredible), and had the audience laughing frequently!
The characters were done very well. Merida, the princess, is a headstrong free spirit that wants to "change her fate" (of being betrothed against her will) at nearly any cost. Like her wild, flaming hair, she will not be held back. King Fergus is jovial and sympathetic, and yet a fiercely loyal husband. Queen Elinor is a lady proper, and wishes the same upon her daughter. The three sons, while never speaking, were portrayed fantastically. This shows the superior nature of Pixar: the ability to convey spectacularly through animated expression and posture.
*SPOILER ALERT* Elinor, the prim mother, undergoes change herself. Facing the uncomfortable reality of becoming a beast, she must face her unruly side. As the credits begin to roll, one is left wondering: "Which character am I to look up to?" Merida is headstrong and sometimes disobedient. Fergus is understanding and supportive, but deaf to reason in a rage. Elinor is too strict. And what role does the witch play? Does she give Merida the spell in order to help her realize her mistake, or to cause more discord? She seemed regretful of giving the former prince the spell, in hiding her status as a witch, so it seems she has people's best interest in mind. *END SPOILER* Yet again, we find cauldrons producing what seems to result in good. Still, there is no character to completely imitate. This is one of Pixar's realistic conclusions, even if it isn't terribly original. There aren't any perfectly good people. (not even the heart-throb Young Macintosh) Everyone has a bad side to go along with their good, but each person is different. We can learn from each in a different manner.
Once again, when the film ends, the audience is slightly confused by the "moral." "You can change your fate" is an odd choice for Pixar, and is a bit vague. It's not so much a moral as it is a challenge. Brave doesn't rely on other Pixar films for its reasoning or popularity. It sets itself apart, even in the purpose of the film. But is that a good thing? I don't think so, in this case. "You can change your fate" seems to encompass many "morals," including "do what your heart tells you," and as Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"
On a lighter note, this film is perfectly suitable for kids. Because of the heavy reliance on expression, they will be able to understand more than in usual animated film dialogue. *SPOILER ALERT* The only possible inappropriate scenes are when Fergus and his fellow hunters have just descended a tower using a rope made of their shed kilts. They aren't wearing them, of course. The only other one is when the three brothers change back into boys, without clothes of course. All of this is done in good-natured Scottish humor, and isn't much to worry about. *END SPOILER*
In conclusion, the animation was superb, and the characters were fantastic. They are the reason I would go see this movie again, rather than the vague "moral" conclusion. You can learn a lot from them, but please don't "follow your heart" as a result of this movie.
P.S. Wait until after the credits. ;)
My rating: 4 stars