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Stephen Q said on June 22nd, 2012 at 6:08 pm

Thank goodness. They seem to be marketing it like Cars.

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Really? Because I’ve been hearing this one, while not bad, wasn’t that great by Pixar standards.

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It’s about par with Finding Nemo but not as great as Incredibles.

As entertainment it’s an above-good film, enjoyable. Definitely a better movie than half the crap released this summer so far.

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SilverHammerMan said on June 22nd, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I still can’t believe they’re doing a sequel to Monsters Inc. before the Incredibles.

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… any chance you could unpack that, MGK?

(Spoilers I guess)

Because I went and saw it and found it to be really weak, probably the weakest thing Pixar has done that doesn’t have ‘Cars’ somewhere in the title. It was weakly plotted and weakly written.

To be fair, part of that might be on me. I went into it expecting a story about an awesome girl kicking ass and subverting cultural expectations while doing it, and instead got a really disjointed story whose message seemed to be that looking for unorthodox solutions to your problems is wrong and selfish, and that you should shut your mouth and respect your elders right to sell you like a piece of meat because of tradition, but its totally okay because they’ll deign to extend you some dignity after you… fuck things up in a way the movie has already indicated was a real bad idea on your part? So it actually wasn’t bad? Wah?

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Saw it today as part of my birthday celebration, and I enjoyed it. I went in expecting a fun movie with action and a good story. I got a good story, I got fun, I got some GORGEOUS backgrounds and animation, I got … a lot more visual ass jokes than expecting. Not my thing, but kudos to Pixar for being a little bolder and going for that. Hopefully this is a one-time thing.

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DensityDuck said on June 23rd, 2012 at 3:12 am

After looking at the staff, I have to say that “Brave” is not a Pixar film. It is a film animated by Pixar. There is a significant difference.

Frankly, from cross-referencing the directing/writing staff for Pixar films with how much I like them, I have to say that for me, Lee Unkrich is the name to look for. (I’d say Brad Bird is the other name, but I haven’t actually seen “Ratatouille”.)

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kingderella said on June 23rd, 2012 at 12:31 pm

thats good to hear. ive been reading some mediocre reviews. i really want to like this one, because it appears to be a collection of elements i really love (pixar, female heroine, redheads, sword and sorcery, archery, celtic culture, coming of age, feminism)

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comatose_chameleon said on June 23rd, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Saw it and was underwhelmed (even with pretty low expectations going in).
MGK and those that liked it, can you tell me what was the protagonist’s WANT? What was her goal, her objective? (and if any of y’all say “to change her fate!” I’m gonna have to bear-slap you upside your flaming red locks). The fact that not I (or any of the folks I went with) could answer this question was at the root of most of our objections to the film. :S

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Edgar Allan Poe said on June 23rd, 2012 at 4:36 pm

She mostly seems to want the opportunity to decide what she wants for herself, rather than being forced into the role her mother’s been grooming her for. Mainly your generic princess-defying-gender-roles stuff, but with an added emphasis on rebelling against her mother’s plan for her life.

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comatose_chameleon said on June 23rd, 2012 at 5:03 pm

EXACTLY! She wants to be able to decide what she wants. . . but what is it she’s decided she wants??? All we know is what she DOESN’T want — her mom’s plan.
Even with other generic “princess-defying-gender-roles” stories, you know what it is the princess is striving toward (e.g. “I want adventure in the great wide, somewhere”; to save a father from military service and prove she can fight with the men, etc).

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Edgar Allan Poe said on June 23rd, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Most rebellious teens I’ve met have been sketchy about what they do want. A lot of them, having been brought up in a narrow or heavily regimented way, haven’t really had the chance to figure it out. A lot of other teen protagonists are similarly motivated by what they don’t want, at least at the outset, and Julie of the Wolves, for instance, is still a classic.

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I can’t say if it’s any better than Cars/Cars 2, as I haven’t watched those two. To me, ‘Brave’ really feels like ‘How To Train Your Dragon’, but with the mother-daughter relationship as the central focus. It even feels like it’s an opener film into a world of TV series and sequels.

It was a fun film. It just wasn’t a good one. Every good Pixar film before has a simple, central motivation that drives the story. In Finding Nemo, it is a father searching for his son. In Toy Story, it’s getting back to Andy (though the more thematic purpose is to return to a place in Andy’s heart). Everything else derives from this central motivation. ‘Brave’ doesn’t have this central motivation. Mereda wants to make her own fate – but what is it that she wants? We learn in the film that (SPOILERS)

it’s to make her own choices

(/SPOILERS)
but that’s neither entirely a strong motivation, nor even displayed. Most of the time it’s just fighting against her mother. Which is fertile ground but not if you don’t have a more specific desire.

(Wall-E was another film that suffers because the central desire gets lost in the second act. But it pulls through with an amazing beginning, and the narrative thread of two robots in love.)

That being said, I enjoyed Brave. It was beautifully animated and well directed. Also, I have a special place in my heart for Scottish accents.

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Yeah, I think it decent, but I’d rank it at the bottom of the totem of Pixar’s films that I’ve seen. It’s the standard Disney princess formula, pretty much by rote, and not even an especially strong example of it (The Little Mermaid and Mulan between them hit pretty much all of these story point, and the ones they don’t get are from Brother Bear). It’s by far the smallest movie Pixar has made, and with the least plot.

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I’ll admit being partially iffy about the message and partially satisfied with it for completely selfish reasons having to do with wanting my impending daughter to bow to her mother’s authority.

My biggest problem is EASILY The fact that the characters did some very stupid things just because the plot demanded it of them (Why couldn’t she get the tapestry without bringing the bear into the castle, for instance?).

That is NOT what I expect out of a Pixar movie. It just lacked that usual polish.

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Scavenger said on June 24th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Ill be seeing it in about an hour…but what’s with the Cars2 Hate? It was very good spy comedy.

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ladypeyton said on June 24th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

She wanted to not have to conform to strict gender roles and she won that right by the end of the film. Maybe it’s because I had to struggle against strict gender roles when I was growing up but I don’t understand what was so confusing about that.

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I always wonder with Pixar films where they fire the director (this, Ratatouille) if the weaker bits are from the fired director or from Pixar’s alteration of the vision.

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@Janshi: We also learn that Elinor (Merida’s mother) needs to learn that there is more to being a good mother than forcing her daughter to become nothing more than a younger version of herself. That’s why, when Merida starts to tell the clans that she’ll abide by tradition, Elinor shakes her head and tells her via improvised sign language that she should be allowed to marry someone that she loves, instead.

All trappings of folklore and magic aside, this is a movie about a mother and her daughter learning how to understand and value each other, where neither of them is entirely right nor entirely wrong.

And that’s why this is one of the better Pixar movies, much less one of the best ones to come out fo far this year.

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Scavenger said on June 25th, 2012 at 2:25 am

Exactly, Prodigal.

I’m not sure some of you get what Pixar is.

They’re about the joy of storytelling through animation. They’re neither about cynical deconstruction, or really even breaking new ground. They’re about telling the stories they want to tell, and telling them really well.

Brave was their take on the Disney Princess film. It’s not a deconstruction…Shrek 1 did that. It’s not a parody, Disney did that with it’s musical live action thingee. It’s not breaking new ground…Tangled and Princess and the Frog covered that. They’re not looking to tell a story that’s different for the sake of being different..the parent company has that handled. They’re telling the story they want to tell.

Why a Monster’s sequel before Incredibles? I’ll give several thoughts and you can chose which you like best.

1) They don’t have a story for Incredibles 2.
2) They said “what kind of movie haven’t we done yet? A college movie! What would be a fun way to do that? Monsters! Hey, we have some monsters already…”
3) There is in fact no sequel posible for Incredibles, as it was a movie about a family learning to love itself again. The only thing you can do with it is just adventures, and the comic no one bought covered that.
4) They said “Wow, it was so great doing a movie with John and Billy. Can we think of a movie we could do to work with them again?”
5) Craig T. Nelson is a huge jerk that they don’t want to deal with.

I don’t know if any of the above are right (I suspect 1 & 2 are). But those should tide you over.

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My big problem was that the movie changed themes about once per act. In act I, it’s all about “girls don’t have to be princesses and can do what they want,” but suddenly act II is all about the mother-daughter relationship and family harmony, and then act III is “let young people choose for themselves,” and all along there’s this undercurrent (undertheme?) of “be careful what you wish for” and “ambition leads to destruction.” I don’t think it was a bad movie, just overstuffed and unfocused.

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The reason there’s a Monsters Inc sequel before The Incredibles is becaues Brad Bird doesn’t want to do one now.

Anyway, “telling the story they want to tell” isn’t an excuse for the movie being so generic. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s far below the standard that Pixar has set for itself in the last decade (Cars 1 & 2 aside).

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Was this the first Disney Princess movie where the Princess actually has a mother? If so, that’s groundbreaking.

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@comatose_chameleon: Wait, a teenager that isn’t particularly sure what they want in life, but they know that they don’t want what their parents have decided for them? My God, such a thing must be a creation of CGI. No wonder they had to do this as an animated film; to ask an actress to potray such a role physically would be to strain credulity beyond belief.

…or was that a little too sarcastic? :)

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Spoilers:

I think Merida’s goal changed through the movie. She started out with a very generic teen angst “NO! I don’t wanna!” to “Okay that was a mistake I need to fix this somehow!”

It would have been better if her mistake had been less clearly stupid or she’d spent a little more time angsting about the effect her stupidity had had on those she loved. It was still good, but that would have made it better.

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Just as an aside: the people saying “oh this isn’t a Pixar film, it’s a Disney film” here and elsewhere? Sorry, no. Brenda Chapman has been with Pixar since 2003; Mark Andrews, who took over, was Brad Bird’s “right hand man” on The Incredibles. (And both were, quite rightly, given credit as directors.) Andrew Stanton and John Lasseter were both involved heavily in its production. The official producer, Katherine Sarafian, was an assistant producer on The Incredibles and also produced Lifted.

This is a Pixar film through and through, so if you don’t like it (and I respect arguments against it, although I do not sympathize with them), don’t play the “it’s Disney’s fault” card.

As for arguments that the film isn’t focused: the entire film is about how a mother and daughter – who love one another – fight with one another and don’t quite understand the other’s issues. That’s the whole point of the movie and the script never abandons it. (That bit where Elinor angrily tosses Merida’s bow in the fire and then pulls it out and starts crying is quite possibly my favorite part of the flick.) I’d argue that the film is almost too focused on it.

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(Why couldn’t she get the tapestry without bringing the bear into the castle, for instance?).

I assumed that she thought her mother was going to fix the tapestry. I also assumed she was scared, and wanted her mother around. That decision seemed totally in-character to me.

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@Ted: No, the mother-daughter relationship was the theme of the entire thing – it’s the backbone of the entire movie.

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[…] Monday: Pixar’s Brave This started out as a comment on MGK’s Single-Sentence Review of Brave, wherein a short positive statement about the movie spawned a comment thread full of people trying […]

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Nice post, I can see your points. I still hold it’s a good movie, but there’s room for improvement. And I’m not a fan of Antz or Bug’s Life, but I’ll concede vistory to Pixar on that one. To answer your question about Cars 2,
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Mater starts out the movie being himself in the wrong places and embarrasing McQueen, even losing him a race. The spies think the idiocy is an act and when they finally tell him that, he has a bit of a realization that the world is laughing at him, not with him. But at the end of the movie, it’s his random knowledge of lemon cars (being a tow truck)that saves everyone and he matures a bit. Not much, but just a bit. And McQueen accepts that Mater will be Mater, and still his best friend.

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I agree, I don’t see any argument that this film is somehow Disney’s fault. Disney imported Pixar people to run their own animation department, and none of their upcoming films look anything like this (indeed, Frozen, from the description, sounds like it’s the movie a lot of people thought Brave was going to be).

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Snap Wilson said on June 26th, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Brendan wrote: “Really? Because I’ve been hearing this one, while not bad, wasn’t that great by Pixar standards.”

That’s how I saw it. Everyone has their own hierarchy of Pixar films. I liked it better than Cars, Monsters Inc., A Bug’s Life–I know, I’m just not crazy about A Bug’s Life, sorry– and I’m sure I would like it more than Cars 2 if I had bothered to see Cars 2. That ranks it ninth out of 13 Pixar films on my list, and yet, it’s still pretty good.

The humor is there, the heroine is feisty and appealing and has awesome hair, but the story is lacking. The central plot device that kicks the middle act into motion comes out of nowhere and the film meanders after that. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t leave me feeling giddy like most Pixar films do.

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I decided about fifteen minute in that I decided to ignore the Pixar logo and say, “This is Disney Princesses, stop trying to find the A113 and John Ratzenberger.” From there, it was pretty good.

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okay I just have to say this,because I don’t understand what you all are talking about.
I have been loving pixar movies for AGES now! im 16,and this is what I want to DO. Pixar made me want to be an animator and tell stories and tell them MY way,and I want to work there after uni and I WILL! Its my dream! and I am a very emotional person and family is the most important thing to me.
so call me old fashioned but this story totally spoke to me!
Merida’s character changed throughout the story! at first she just wanted to be FREE. Just wanted to make er own decisions and not be a princess and she was the typical rebellious princess that we see a lot in Disney movies (except with cute cute hair!) and then she decided to take things in her hand,because she was a teenager and teenagers are quite frankly a bit selfish! I am too! so she entered the competition herself and won! but while doing so she unknowingly practically gave her mother and her family a slap in the face,she disrespected them and everything they’ve been working for and her mother had done EVERYthing to make sure she has a good life.she has been doing it wrong though.but still.
And then she made a rash decision! like all of us do sometimes! she was angry and hurting and she just did something out of pure anger! and yea I too wish that the spell wasn’t so obvious but that was fun too,because bears is what the dad hated and it was just a fantastic twist,to me.
And then she changed! her priorities changed! she did things for her family and her mother and she GREW.its not like her character changed,she still wouldn’t admit that she was wrong,until the very end when she thought she had lost completely.
and mordu,was to me a great story by itself.justsaying.
so to all of you who thought it was a weak story..it was not weak.it was REAL. And maybe that is why most people didn’t like it. it was about a real story and real love told in a Disney princess way,and maybe none of us want a real story from pixar but please try to also see that telling a story this flawlessly takes so much effort! it was about a mother and daughter who didn’t listen to eachother. thats what the whole story was! and it was a great change,I think,to go from the princess/princ Disney movie and action comedy pixar movies to a movie that is about life and family and love!
I myself loved the movie. and I think you all just forgot what its like to be in a family.

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