‘Brave’ – Misleading and disappointing

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2:00 pm EDT, June 24, 2012

I was so ready to love Brave.

I mean, I really really wanted to, but as I sat in the cinema after the credits started rolling, I couldn’t help but let out a sigh (Review contains no spoilers).

Brave is the first Pixar movie to have a female protagonist, which honestly seems a bit ridiculous, but it was one of the main reasons I wanted to see the film. I had watched the trailers and concluded from it like everyone else that Merida looked like a total badass with her awesome bow and amazing I-can’t-be-tamed red hair, plus the whole story arc of her not being your typical princess because she doesn’t want to get married.

Ten-year-old me would have been begging my parents to see this movie.

Finally, I thought, here is a movie for all the girls who were and are tomboys. For the girls who refuse to wear dresses, who fight in the dirt, who only have boys for friends, who stare in horror at the Barbie make-up kit they get for Christmas from their grandmother.

That was me. I didn’t watch any of Disney’s princess movies when I was a kid. I don’t think I’ve even seen Cinderella, and I’ve seen all the others probably only once.

Instead, my favourites were Hercules, Tarzan, 101 Dalmatians, and Lion King. I just wasn’t interested in the romance/ Prince Charming plotlines. I didn’t identify with the female characters.

When I was a kid, I seriously wished I were a boy, and I think it’s sad that there were no female role models that made me want to be a girl.

Hence my excitement for Brave. Here was a female character I could finally look up to.

So why do I criticize it as misleading and disappointing?

Firstly, after seeing the movie, I think that all the trailers were quite misleading. I understand that you shouldn’t give away all the major plot points, that you should save plot twists, but this movie went in a totally different direction than I expected.

What I had anticipated was Merida going off on some adventure, fighting against evil, proving herself strong and capable even though she’s a girl, with a great life lesson at the end.

But no, the movie wasn’t even solely about Merida, it was dually focused on her mother, Elinor. It was instead a movie about mother-daughter relationships and being able to understand each other.

That’s fine, but why doesn’t it show that in the trailers? I felt cheated. I expected the movie to be more epic, have a bigger scope and impact than it did. The movie only takes place within a 10km radius (I’m guessing) and over a maximum three-day period. Maybe it’s a complaint of trailers in general, but it made out the stakes to be a lot higher than they were.

Secondly, and most importantly, I found this movie so completely disappointing because THEY DIDN’T EVEN MAKE USE OF MERIDA AS A FEMALE PROTAGONIST.

It was so frustrating; they showed us in the first twenty minutes that Merida wasn’t a stereotypical princess – she was skilled as an archer, hated her duties as a princess and wished for the freedom to be rough and run wild, to prove herself even though she was a girl. Yet, instead of that being the story, it is merely a plot device to start the real action.

At the beginning, I foolishly hoped that it was only a side story, that it would be quickly resolved so that Merida could start her own adventure. But it was not to be.

In its place, Merida and Elinor have to work together and are able to understand each other better because of it, realising that both were right and in the end becoming closer than before, blah blah blah.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great message, but it’s not the message I wanted!

Why did they even bother making Merida into such a kickass girl if they weren’t going to take advantage of it? Her skill with the bow, which is pointed out at numerous times, isn’t even important to the conclusion of the story. The whole movie could have easily been done with your normal princess, having her refuse to get married because she didn’t love any of the presented men, instead of just not wanting to get married. The same plot points would have happened either way.

I loved the characters and the setting, but I wanted a completely different plot.

Ultimately, Brave was a wasted opportunity to demonstrate a new type of heroine.

This weekend we’re hosting an open thread to fellow fans to discuss the film!

Listen to similar discussions related to pop culture on the podcast, Memoirs of a Fangirl.

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