It's here! It's here! Pixar's latest is here! If you're like me and you've seen this already. Otherwise, it's not here for another two weeks, but still. Have at it!
Gonna repeat most of what I said in the pre-release thread!
BRAVE is an interesting one to talk about. I liked it quite a bit. It's entertaining. It's got a fantastic first act that had me fully prepared to love the whole, but where the story eventually went felt undercooked and chopped down. But my audience ate it up, so I figure it has nothing to worry about in terms of how well it's received.
And yeah. I can't say this is being marketed in a way that let's people know what they're getting, but I honestly did not mind this. I liked being kept in the dark about where this movie would go. I just wish it went somewhere more satisfying.
Still, I would recommend seeing it. It's fun and beautiful. McDonald is so great as Merida. And as much as I love his work, I'm so glad Giacchino wasn't on this. Patrick Doyle's score was lovely.
This isn't some Cars 2 situation. This could've been so great and I felt like it missed its potential by a lot despite enjoying myself.
Very spoilery. I guess. If you consider overall knowledge of the story to be spoilery. I actually liked not knowing what curse Merida inflicts on her family, but I do think it's a weird marketing decision since that event is thematically and symbolically important. Still, maybe Pixar's mad men don't really give a shit about giving this a good campaign; I'm sure Brave will do just fine even with the smell of Cars 2 hanging overhead a year later. Anyways, it should go without saying, but if you don't want big plot details to be ruined for you, get outta here.
I really liked it. If anything I thought it was actually a bit slow to get to the big meaty plot point that defines the timbre of the movie, but the things that happen in the meantime leading up to that event aren't superfluous fluff. I think the writers/directors just chose to let a different part of the movie breathe than I think others may have. Which is fine. Maybe when you have Emma Thompson doing voicework for a character who spends a chunk of the movie as a shapeshifted bear, you want to give as much time as possible to the character as a human.
So, yes. The idea here is that Merida, daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor, is desperate to relinquish the burden of her fate as a princess and live free. With the threat of betrothal hanging over her head, Merida has a wise woman living in the wilds of the Scottish highlands concoct for her a potion (well, a pie; perhaps a pot-pie?) that will magically change her mother's mind about the matter of marriage. "Change" is much more literal than that, though, as the spell winds up turning Elinor into a bear, and so Merida has to figure out how to reverse the spell before Elinor becomes a bear forever.
Oh, and Fergus is long-obsessed with a savage bear who long ago attacked his family and bit off one of his legs, which makes Elinor's transformation somewhat problematic. It's the opening scene of the movie, though it's nowhere as graphic as it sounds. Of course.
The entire conceit of a child sparring with their parents/one of their parents and hexing them to get their way feels very classically fairy talish, though I'll be damned if I can think of any traditional fairy tales that follow the same path as Brave (without the particulars, of course). The most recent story I can think of is fairly modern, and that's Coraline, but that heroine's parents are kidnapped and not vanished by her own will. (If I recall.) So there's something very "old" about Brave but I think that's actually great; it feels like it comes right out of a story book. I loved that effect.
Where the whole story may throw some for a loop is in the scene where Elinor transforms. Not the way it's executed, but just the fact that it happens at all. I had zero expectation that Merida would have her mother, as a bear, play sidekick to her in the film's second and third act, but she does and while it's really really fucking weird at first-- because, again, there's no hint of that in the trailer, really-- it serves the whole story pretty beautifully. Obviously, stuck together as they are, both learn a lot from one another; Elinor comes to understand why Merida clings so dearly to her concept of freedom and loves traipsing through the woods practicing her archery and inhaling life as much as she does. Merida, for her part, comes to see why the principles of "ladyship" her mother prizes so highly are important, and learns why those tenets should matter to her as they matter to Elinor.
Brave, for me, ties together really well thematically; it's about responsibility and growing up but it's also about what happens when the past repeats itself. (The savage leg-eating bear is what happens when you don't reverse the wise woman's spell, we learn.) And it looks incredible. That should be a given for any Pixar movie but I feel like the animation here represents another step forward for the studio. The way Merida's hair moves, the way her arrow bends in a slow-motion shot...it all looks great.
Anyways this post is too long. Cut!
The animation of Merida's breakdown was just HEARTBREAKING. It felt like some next level stuff to me. A new standard of performance when it comes to hand-animated characters (CG, at least?).
Yeah, I had no idea that much of this movie would be a mother/daughter buddy movie. From the trailers, I figured that the first act would set up the conflict between them from which Merida would go on some wild coming-of-age adventure and then come back to her mother for a happy ending (I'm a sick sick man... huh what? I didn't say anything!). But NOT knowing about this development going into the movie actually had me legitimately wondering where the movie would be going.
But it's weird. The setup for the movie is a Freaky Friday situation... except it's just the mother that becomes the bear. And it's not as if Merida has any issues with bears (aside from the initial WTF fears). It's her father who has bear issues. And he's really just a minor supporting character. So to pair her up with a bear seemed... ill-fitting? I mean, what does it mean for their relationship to have Merida teach her mother how to fish... as a bear? Her mother clearly gets to see her daughter in her true element and appreciate it. But I don't think Merida experiences enough of her mother's POV to really have her arc click. If anything, it's her mother that holds her hand through and literally pantomimes Merida through her big change. And I think that happens pretty early in the movie. So by the time the climax rolls around, it didn't feel like there was much to resolve aside from the spell/curse/transformation itself.
Thematically, the film is aiming for something quite lovely. Individual scenes work beautifully. But I didn't think it all came together in a fully satisfying and truly enduring way that the first act promised. It felt short. During its climactic scenes, I wondered... "Is this really where it's going to end? It feels like there should be more." It's trying to tackle several things, but they all ended up feeling disparate.
I love that first act because it really lays the groundwork for something significant. The story of the four brothers was also given a lot of weight during it, but the resolution to that thread ended up feeling really low key.
I may have teared up at the moment Merida's mother suddenly realizes what she's done and scrambles to get Merida's bow out of the fireplace. That whole scene was amazing.
The film's use of mysticism was interesting. The wisps were just an element of the story. They were just there as a part of that world, but they're hardly addressed. I suppose they represent fate, but honestly... I find it hard to pay attention to opening and closing voiceovers that pontificate on fate. It all feels so generic. Like the shit that opened and closed an episode of HEROES. Even with Kelly MacDonald's lovely voice narrating those moments, I zone out whenever fate and destiny is mentioned.
Still, I was both taken and frustrated with the somewhat arbitrary way the mysticism was worked into the movie. The witch, who feels like a significant plot development, is mostly played as comic relief. And she just has that one scene (two, if you count her voicemail). She was much to do for a character who was essentially just the ZOLTAR SPEAKS wish machine from BIG.
Really looking forward to discussing this one with everyone once they see it.
Also... this movie wins the prize for BIGGEST PIXAR BOOBS.
It's interesting, because Fergus is the Ahab to Mordu's Moby Dick, but at the same time it's Merida who Mordu tries to kill at the start of the movie, and it's Elinor who comes to her child's defense first before Fergus and his men engage in mortal combat with the monster. So Mordu appearing at the end, for me, just mirrored the beginning-- mother coming to the aid of her daughter. That actually choked me up big time, as much as anything else in the film, but I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. (I gave a hollering whoop when Mrs. Weasley destroyed Bellatrix in Deathly Hallows Pt.2, and also when I read the book the first time. Shit, I read that page over and over again before continuing onward.) I mean, I'm getting verclempt just thinking about it now. And some of the other scenes, like Elinor retrieving the bow from the fire or Merida's breakdown in the last act.
Full disclosure: I'm a pussy. Anyways.
I kind of got the impression that Mordu really solidified the independently-minded Merida as a free spirit. Sort of a "never again" reaction to a near death experience. That whole scene for me established all of the groundwork for her teenage years-- Fergus gives her the bow, her mother disapproves. Then, Mordu attacks, and so the dynamic between Merida and her parents is established as well as her need to be strong and fierce in the way that she is. One note: At my screening, the movie didn't have sound for the first minute, so I didn't get dialogue until Mordu attacked. So maybe I missed something valuable there, but I don't think so. It worked pretty well even without dialogue.
Anyways, for the whole "mom's a bear!" thing works out for Merida because here she is, with full custody over her mother who looks almost exactly like the thing that tried to kill her more than a decade ago. And that fear comes up a few times, too.
And yeah, the "Merida teaches momma bear to fish" thing...that's where I got lost. I had to think about it. Merida's so used to seeing her mother in power and in charge that seeing her so helpless is kind of a big deal for her. In a weird way, it humanizes Mom in Daughter's eyes. And I think that's where they begin to bond. At that point the movie picked me back up again, but it did puzzle me at first.
Really, the animation here is top-notch. "Next level" doesn't even sound like hyperbole. Everyone here, especially Merida, is just incredibly expressive and full of life. Makes the whole film really sing.
That whole scene for me established all of the groundwork for her teenage years-- Fergus gives her the bow, her mother disapproves. Then, Mordu attacks, and so the dynamic between Merida and her parents is established as well as her need to be strong and fierce in the way that she is.
It's Indy: The Last Crusade all over again!!! Heheheh
If only it had also established how good she was a sewing/stitching... WHILE ON HORSEBACK!!! Wow, I thought... That was surprisingly easy!
(sidenote: man, was that Molly Weasly scene in Deathly Hallows Part 2 botched for me... BIG TIME PERFUNCTORY)
Now THAT would have been tense! The horse, galloping through glens and over brooks...while Merida desperately tries to hold on tight and stitch together the hacked-up mural of her family with one hand! *queue exciting riding music*
I skipped over everything else in this thread, because I want to know something, and I'm really just trying to see if I'm ultra-clever. I just read Devin's review, and while he abided by Pixar's request to not spoil anything, I think I figured out the big "twist" from one thing he said. So tell me, just yes or no...
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Is Merida's mom turned into a bear?
Hayup. Merida feeds her a magical spell-pie and Elinor turns into a giant bear. Who wears a tiara. It sounds incredibly fucking weird on paper, but I think it works pretty well on film.
Read Devin's review myself. Really, I just disagree with the critiques he makes, though he's probably right about the fact that Brave would probably end up being seen as something of a home run if it came out of a studio other than Pixar. It's maybe "lesser" Pixar but it's still really good, and I don't think it's fair to expect Up or Ratatouille or Toy Story 2 every damn time they release a movie. Again, that's setting oneself up for disappointment. I don't get why people do this to themselves, willfully. I just don't.
...that's neither here nor there, of course. I don't know. I certainly don't agree that Brave's events are inorganic; if there's anything in the script that feels like a convention meant to push things forward, it's the wisps, but they're introduced in the first scene as guiding spirits and not just whipped up out of the blue to send Merida and Elinor from point A to point B. In fact, if you caught IO9's collection of Emma Coats' Tweets about the 22 conventions of storytelling she learned from working at Pixar, I'd say Brave follows many of them incredibly closely.
I can very much understand that sense of starting and stopping, but I think that may be more because the film goes from nutty magical stuff and wacky escape antics to...fishing in a river. Before diving into Demonic Hell Bear Attack. And it does so fairly quickly, too, though I didn't find it all that problematic or abrupt or anything.
I've been wondering if we're seeing evidence of the 'Pixar reputation' now having a tangible effect on the work of Pixar.
SMUG isn't the word I would use, because I think it's just a human thing that eventually happens when you have a run as successful as that of Pixar. This is not to say that I don't think the filmmakers there aren't putting in their due diligence towards the stories they're telling. OF COURSE story development is a mind-fuckingly difficult process in which you don't know how well something truly works until you put it in front of an audience. But their work used to be tighter as a whole. And now it feels as if they're coasting on the semblance of 'story' and 'heart.'
This is difficult to get across without sounding like I'm accusing Pixar of getting lazy. But as a creative culture, I think it's one that's started to buy into its own hype (well-deserved as it is) to the point where it's subtly affecting their process at its core.
I think some of this is seen in the way Andrew Stanton handled story aspects of John Carter. When working within the Pixar culture, he wanted to hint at the fate of Marlin's family gradually. It was through the rigorous story process and constant reworkings that he was eventually convinced to lay it all out in the opening of the film (to great effect). Whether he didn't want to repeat himself or not, he seemed like he had to get his original creative choice out in John Carter (Carter vs the Warhoons). And I agree with Film Crit Hulk who thought that was all information that should've been laid out at the beginning of the film (instead of prologue after prologue).
And this doesn't even begin to include the fact that the studio is now fully a part of the Disney machine as well.
What I'm saying is...
ALL HAIL DREAMWORKS!! MWUHUHUHUHUHUHUH
Interesting, because I'm kind of at the reverse end here: I'm wondering if we're at a point where Pixar's buckling under the weight of expectations after having a really long run of great quality filmmaking and storytelling. Can they continue to succeed if their public expects them to produce an Up or a Wall-E or a Toy Story 2 with every one of their future enterprises?
The answer in the short term is probably "yes" in terms of finances and the bottom line, but artistically, well, I wonder.
I think Devin has chosen to categorize the Cars films as something else. Cynical merchandising cash-ins, whether that's true or not.
Brave and A Bug's Life both come from them legitimately embracing creativity.
Not saying I agree with him. Just guessing where he's coming from. Because I already know he harbors no love for the Cars movies.
I was WAAAAY more taken with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. That film went for simplicity and met it. BRAVE tries to go for something a little more complex, I think, but misses the mark a bit. I think everyone will enjoy it, but I also found it frustrating. Like the film didn't know what it wanted to be.
I give them credit for still putting out "original" movies. If they wanted to fully embrace the dark side, we could get half-ass sequels like Up 2 and Wall-E 3 just because they could get the greenlight for it (only explanation why we have multiple Chipmunk and Happy Feet movies).
It could also be said that this is counter programming for Cars, which is targeted more to boys...could also explain the vague marketing angle. Either way, it will be interesting to see how it does.
We already got Cars 2 and Toy Story 3. Then we have Monsters University (which has a really fun trailer). So we are getting these sequels/prequels/whatevers.
I don't know the specifics of why Brenda Chapman was replaced with Mark Andrews on this (she still gets a separate directing and story by credit). But this is something they do if they feel the movie isn't 'working.' They did it for Ratatouille too (Jan Pinkava replaced by Brad Bird).
It happened with Disney's Bolt too. And from what I've read, that's one where John Lasseter (creative head of Disney by then) didn't think Chris Sanders' vision was working and changed directors. That seemed to be a case in which Sanders left pissed and ended up at Dreamworks to do How to Train Your Dragon.
Edited by mcnooj82 - 6/14/12 at 4:24pm
Nobody really cares that the evil, or amoral at best, witch just gets away at the end? Crow with invoice or not.
I have to agree that it did feel undercooked. How long was it in any case. Maybe it was because it jumped around so much, but there was some fairly underdeveloped characters in there. Although, now I want to just talk in a Scottish accent all the time.
Also, LOL that the only spell that the witch seems to give people is "turn people into bears" spells. Strength of ten men? You're a bear. Change your fate? You're mom's a bear. I know you like bears lady, but c'mon, imagine greater.
Also, going back a bit, wasn't Cars a passion project for Lassiter? Or at least that's what I remember from when it came out. I suppose it could have been marketing, still though, I don't think it was that they were forced into it.
I still go back to this feeling like a Disney fairy tale movie, more "conventional" than the stuff that Pixar largely does.
For Lasseter, it definitely seemed to be a passion project. The first one at least. And that heart is definitely there.
But I kinda get the feeling that it wasn't a passion for the rest of Pixar. Heheheh. I base that on nothing.
Yes, definitely. I do wonder which can be identified as the cause, though. I tend to think that everything comes back to the expectations we place on studios and artists in the first place-- not that we can't expect greatness from Pixar, but I think it's unfair to expect everything they make to be a Wall-E-type masterwork. At the same time, Pixar does have a legacy of quality to uphold, though I feel like I'm almost blaming them for making a ton of outstanding movies since the late 90s.
That said, I don't know that I'd classify Brave as existing very far outside their typical quality levels, but I think a lot of people are going to have a hard time reconciling it against their other films, which is a huge shame because I think Brave does just fine on its own terms.
Nooj covered this already, but yeah, I think it's because Devin views the Cars films as revenue generators as opposed to real artistic endeavors. I'm also not sure I agree with that; it's not like Pixar films don't make money even when they're massive artistic successes. In fact, if memory serves, Cars more or less falls in-line with what the average Pixar film pulls in through the box office. Maybe Cars lends itself more to building up revenue through ancillaries, but I think it's hard to look at them as studio cash grabs.
I was WAAAAY more taken with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. That film went for simplicity and met it. BRAVE tries to go for something a little more complex, I think, but misses the mark a bit. I think everyone will enjoy it, but I also found it frustrating. Like the film didn't know what it wanted to be.
Simple done well is often better than complex done less well, so I'm told. I think my thing with How to Train Your Dragon is that it's simple, and thrilling, and sweet, and very well-done, but...maybe not empty but certainly it doesn't have very much on its mind. Which is okay. Ultimately I think I can admire Brave more for actually tackling something bigger. And honestly, Brave is better-animated, too. That's gotta count for something!
No, I don't care, because she wasn't evil. Saying she's amoral is kind of disingenuous, too; I mean, she goes out of her way to push the "wood carver" thing until it's clear Merida won't shut the fuck up and leave her alone. Merida puts herself in her own mess. And in the end it's about Merida accepting responsibility. The witch gave Merida plenty of fair warning, Merida ignored it, Merida turned her mom into a bear. Boom.
As for the witch's bear fetish, I don't disagree. But Brave follows the same arc as any number of morality fairy tales, and bears are-- from my limited knowledge-- quite prominent in Celtic mythology. It works for me. And in the end, the witch is just using the same spell she used on Mordu ages ago; he gained the strength of ten men because he turned into a fucking Demon Bear. And Elinor would have changed her mind because she would have turned into a Queen Bear.
Still, I'd love to see a whole movie of the witch solving problems with bears all day long. No matter how I read Brave there's something inherently silly about her penchant for bear-shifting humans, but delightfully so.
It's beautiful. The scenery and character animation (DAT HAIR) are all great. The music is lovely. The way it moves is brilliant. It's terrifically funny a lot of the time (the triplets were my favorite part of the movie).
Like Nooj says, after a great first two acts (I'm a five-act devotee) that sets everything up wonderfully, the movie fumbles. Things are just kind of happening because they have to, not because they make sense. The wisps are basically total authorial fiat here, a narrative shortcut the movie uses way too often. Merida figures out the truth behind the legend and the prince who became a bear thanks to a sudden mystic vision that's handed to her. And on that note, there's no reason for the bear to be anything other than a big demon bear. His actually being a prince has no bearing (I swear I didn't see it until after I wrote it) on the plot. There's a nice looking fishing scene that has no reason to exist. The movie also has what I think is Pixar's first major plot hole, with all the men apparently doing thangs for a full day without noticing that the queen and princess are gone, and the queen's room has been wrecked. I'm kind of with Devin in not enjoying any of the other clans as well. Their purpose is weak; Merida's importance to an alliance fizzles out after the bear transformation, so they aren't there for any reason other than to bounce off the king. After Elinor becomes a bear, the story becomes basically just a string of beats that don't cohere into a full. I don't mind that the story turned out to not be about saving the kingdom, but about the relationship between a daughter and mother. In fact, I vastly prefer that. Fantasy needs some stakes management. Although that said, if you put the kingdom in danger, making that thread not just secondary but perfunctory is pretty weak.
Brave's not bad, not even close. But it's just kind of safely forgettable. I can't picture anyone ever looking back on it for any special reason, or really loving it unless they're a kid who grows up with it (and they don't count).
This is also far and away the Ghibliest movie Pixar's made yet, and there's no way it's unintentional. The final shot alone would be proof enough of that.
I'd actually be ecstatic if Pixar fully embraced a Ghibli tone for one of their films. It would be artistically adventurous, to say the least (WALL-E was very close to being something like that. Then it got to the spaceship). The problem with Brave is more that all these plot elements (a girl who wants her freedom, a demon bear, clans on the brink of war) sort of circle and bounce about one another rather than being tied into a meaningful whole.
See, I think all of those elements do cohere into something meaningful because they're all so interconnected. Merida's story is basically a reflection of Mor'du's, which is why it's important that he's a member of royalty. He's a mirror image of her-- he puts his wants before his responsibilities and leads the kingdom into a terrible war. (He even has three siblings, though that's not particularly important.) Merida, by putting her desire to maintain her freedom and autonomy first, ends up setting DunBroch on the brink of war as well. So the warring clans, Merida's deep craving to cast off her duties as a princess, and the demonic bear all tie back together into a story about growing up and accepting responsibility in multiple ways (e.g. accepting responsibility for your actions, and accepting your responsibilities as a ruler).
The biggest problem that I have with Brave, really, is that the stuff with the clansmen isn't quite as robust as it should have been. Ultimately, Brave isn't about the clans getting into bloody conflict with each other-- they're mostly a bunch of buffoons even at their best, really-- but if it's about Merida learning to be responsible and to be the ruler she needs to be (while remaining the free-spirited, fiery, self-possessed person she is), then what's happening at home should have as much punch as what's happening in the woods. I agree that stakes should be managed, but the stuff with Fergus and the lords needed a bit more love to really tie into Merida's arc at the end.
My problem with Merida's story being a parallel for Mor'du's is that contemporary-progressive Joon thinks Merida is completely reasonable in her desires for independence and not being married off right away.
Mor'du's desires seemed to be for an absolute lust for power (unless I'm remembering the details incorrectly). Of course, that's the slant that her mother's telling of the story has. The actual story might be more complicated than that (which is hinted at by the thankful gesture Mor'du's ghost makes when freed from his bear-form)... but I don't think that's good enough for the film as a whole.
That the movie wants for Merida to accept her responsibilities as well as have her freedom felt like a copout. There didn't seem to be any sense of real sacrifice in the story which led to my general feeling of dissatisfaction with where the film eventually went.
I don't think Merida's really being unreasonable, either. But Elinor also has a point. And I think the scene where Elinor talks out her feelings on Merida to Fergus while Merida talks out her feelings to her horse underscores that really well; the problem is that they have a very typical parent/child dynamic that makes reasonable communication with one another nearly impossible. Hence, when they confront one another before Merida runs off, the tapestry is slashed and the bow is burned. From my own experience, the way that that whole conversation takes such a sharp turn for the worse feels very honest. And I think the way that they come to a compromise in the end-- a pretty good one, frankly-- feels just as honest.
I'm pretty sure Mor'du was pretty power-hungry, but that didn't bother me. The only necessary connective tissue binding him to Merida is their shared act of putting self before duty. Of course, that means entirely different things for both of them, but I don't think Mor'du needed to be in the same position as Merida for the consequences of his actions to have meaning to her. That might have led to too much mirroring, if that's a thing.
As to the ending...yeah, I know what you mean, but I don't think it's the first cop-out ending Pixar has done and it feels appropriate even if there's something bigger and bolder they could have done with it (e.g. gone full-bore with Merida either gaining her freedom or relinquishing it).
Walking out of the theater, I couldn't help but to think about the Disney Renaissance. The days when The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Mothafucking Lion King blew people away. Then we got Pocahontas, a film which is not terrible in its own right, but a film that was damned by the glory of its predecessors.
Brave is Pixar's Pocahontas.
On its own, it's a good movie, but it's no Wall-E. It's no Up. It's no Toy Story 3. And before you say, "Waaah, you can't judge it by comparing it to other Pixar stuff", let me say FUCK YOU and YES I CAN. Yes I can, because Pixar itself has invited such critiques by opening the trailers and TV spots with, "From the folks who brought you Finding Nemo, Up, and Wall-E". They have invited this comparison, so they are going to get it. It's good. But it's not up to the Pixar standard, in my opinion.
I also got a lot of flashbacks to How To Train Your Dragon due to the accents and the "kid protects wild misunderstood black beast" theme. I liked Brave, but if I had to pick, I'd watch Dragon again over this.
Well, sure, you can do that. But it's also entirely your choice to compare each new Pixar release to new ones as a means of determining quality. If you're disappointed based on that yardstick, you can really only blame yourself. Pixar maybe invites the comparison, but you have to accept it. Frankly, I think it's just better to confront each new offering divorced from the Pixar name, judge them on their own merits, and then determine where they fit into Pixar canon.
Honestly, double-takes like Josh's and Tim's, or mine and Nooj's, better sum up the film than a single review from a single person can. Brave is certainly good, but it's also not a universal hit; it'll find its detractors even if they acknowledge the film's merit. That's just one element that defines the weird tension the film shares between its pedigree and its studio, and I think that weird tension is going to be negligible for some and a source of dissonance for others.
I think the reason some people aren't taking to this like some of other Pixar's films is that it's not a Pixar film. It's Pixar doing a full-on Disney movie, with princesses and magic and everything but singing. And on that level, it's an absolute home run. Even on a Pixar level, I thought it was pretty damned good.
I don't hate it, far from it. I'm just extremely let down.
I thought it was great. It's not a home run but it's a solid triple.
The only thing I'd like to add is that they did an excellent job of conveying weight with the bears. They moved like they actually weighed 2 tons...it felt right, unlike those lumbering beasts that galloped around in AVATAR.
From a purely technical standpoint, this thing is a marvel. Probably the high point for the studio. It's the most cinematic film they've done, what with the sense of movement and depth. And this has to be the largest number of human characters they've ever tackled.
I thought it came out great, I'd place it just behind Totoro and Spirited Away but ahead of Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, Laputa, Porco Rosso, Nausica, etc.
I guess I'm lucky because I loved this movie - I thought it was beautiful and exciting and magical. I guess the 34 page Prometheus thread has people who loved that movie too ... I'm more willing to forgive a cartoon movie about a princess and magic spells for undeserved character development and wonky sub-plots than I am a "hard sci-fi" take on the origin of intelligent life in the galaxy.
I really, really loved it. It's a bit thin in act two, but I was completely taken with the mother/daughter stuff, and (for the first time in a very long time), the silly humor worked for me. And the animation... my God, the animation. During the first night with Elinor as a bear, there are shots of Merida with a hood, her hair sort of spilling out of it. Something about it -- maybe the rain running through her hair? -- actually made my jaw drop.
It's probably middle-of-the-road Pixar, but middle-of-the-road Pixar is amazing. I liked it just about as much as I liked Wall-E.