(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Brave. The song "Learn Me Right" plays throughout, as well as several snippets of the movie's score by Patrick Doyle)
Doug (vo): When the trailer for Brave came out, nobody knew what to think of it. It was mostly shadowed in secrecy, but that just made us all the more intrigued. It didn't look like anything that Pixar had done before. The tone looked different, the environment looked different, the designs looked different. It looked like something almost out of a Miyazaki film. So, naturally, a lot of audiences got excited. And as more trailers came out, we got less and less information about what the film was actually about. All we knew is that it had elements of the mystical and fantasy and legend and lore and, wow. This looks really fascinating. So, what did everybody think of the film when it finally premiered? Eh. And what did I think of the film when it finally premiered? Eh...ish. I think I'm a little bit more optimistic about the stuff that's good in it, but...yeah, there's a lot of stuff that seems really rushed and kind of cluttered, and...I heard the film went through, like, a lot of directors and writers and tossed from person to person, and it kind of shows, and...does that mean it's not worth checking out? Not necessarily. I...let's look at the story.
Doug (vo): All right, so the story that looks so different and new is about a princess. [A photo of all the Disney Princesses is shown] Gee, haven't seen that from Disney yet. But this particular one doesn't want to be a princess. [A photo of Princess Jasmine is shown] Gee, haven't seen that from Disney yet. But she's adventurous and free-spirited. [A photo of Belle is shown. Doug growls in annoyance as he speaks] Gee, haven't seen that from Disney before! She has to be forced to marry somebody. [A photo of Pocahontas is shown. Doug growls again] GEE, HAVEN'T SEEN THAT FROM DIS...! Oh, and the mother turns into a bear. [The poster of Brother Bear is shown] Oh, for God's sake! THAT ONE WASN'T EVEN A HIT! Why are you ripping off stuff you already know failed?! But perhaps I'm rushing it a bit. Okay, the slower version. There's a princess in Scotland who doesn't get along very well with her mother, or, at least, she used to, until she turned into a teenager and decided that she wants to do things her way and not her mother's way. Her father, who's a bit of a likeable barbarian, could really care less, but her mother believes in the old traditions, and holds them very close to her heart, just as much as her mother did. So it's not really the case of just evil parent as much as extreme misunderstandings. The princess, of course, doesn't want to follow her mother's path and wants to be allowed to choose who she wants to marry. So she comes across a witch in the woods, who tells her that she can get her way if she has her mother eat a certain magical dish. She tricks the mother into trying it, and what do you know? She turns into a bear. They try to have the witch change her back, but sadly, she has disappeared and is nowhere to be found. So it's up to the daughter and the mother to figure out exactly what they have to do in order to get her back to normal.
Doug (vo): The marketing also shows our main character constantly holding a bow and arrow, like she's adventurous and she gets stuff done, a real badass. That is not the case. While I certainly wouldn't describe her as weak, she still doesn't do anything particularly different or really that kick-ass-ish. She's just sort of nice, but rebellious, complains, but wants to do things right. Honestly, just like every other Disney Princess. Aside from her design, which is a very cool design, there's not a whole lot to her, at least, not as much as the marketing was leading on.
[Scenes mostly focusing on Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor, are shown]
Doug (vo): Now in this movie's favor, I do give it credit for tackling a relationship you don't see much in Disney films, or even in fairy tales, for that matter: the mother-daughter relationship. It's usually the daughter-father or sister-brother, brother-brother, sister-sister. Bottom line, the mother's usually dead. I'm not sure why there's not a lot of mother-daughter relationships out there. Do they just assume mothers and daughters always get along and there's no conflict? Well, this one does address it.
[Several more clips are shown]
Doug (vo): But the downside is that, through a lot of the film, just like with everything else, it does seem kind of rushed and half-assed at times. For example, there's a scene where she goes riding out on a horse and enjoys the landscapes of Scotland. Now this could've been a very large beautiful scene, but instead, it's chopped together so quickly that you barely even remember what you just saw. Why couldn't the film go a little slower, create a little bit more atmosphere and mysticism to it?
[One of the film's supporting characters, the Witch, is shown]
Doug (vo): The same thing can be said about the Witch. Why couldn't they create a really inventive witch? Like, you see these sprites earlier. That was great, that was going in the right direction. But the Witch is definitely sort of a modern-day witch, again, with the fast editing and a lot of in-jokes and a lot of modern-day references.
[The flashbacks in the film are shown]
Doug (vo): Even when they start telling some of the legends, I mean, that should be really fascinating. But again, it's almost like the film was on fast-forward and it just goes by too quick.
[A short film based on the film is shown in several clips]
Doug (vo): There's actually a short on the DVD that goes much more into detail about one of the legends they tell, and if the rest of the movie was like this, I think we would've had a pretty damn good film.
[Back to the film, where it begins showing the climax of the film]
Doug (vo): And the stuff they do focus on is stuff that we've seen a million times before, the complaining princess, the parent that doesn't want to listen, the prejudices of the world, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. So, yeah, this film's a complete forgettable dud, right? Well, I was thinking so at first, until we got to the last third. This is where I thought the film really starts to stand out. There's a twist that if they don't get the mother back to human, not only is she gonna stay a bear, but her mind is gonna become more of a predator. So there's a constant battle between keeping her humanity and giving into her inner carnivore. But on top of that, the resolution of the film, I actually think is very clever. Usually, films like this always have the same climax. The person who's taught to be peaceful and polite, ultimately at the end, has to use violence to get what the person wants. Been there, done that. But this film creates a little bit more of a mixture. Without giving too much away, it's not just the violence that wins the day. In fact, the action-prone princess actually has to use a diplomatic way, using peace and logic, to calm everybody down, and the mother, prone to peace and logic, has to use force and wit in order for her to survive. Now that works out well, because it shows that there is time to use the peaceful route, and there is time to take action. And both sides of the extreme have to use the other side in order to survive.
[Several of the potential love interests in the film are shown]
Doug (vo): I also like the fact that you're kind of waiting for her to see the one thing in one of the suitors that's going to win her over and, yeah, that'll be the perfect match. But, no. In the end, it's still decided she'll marry when she's ready and who she wants to marry, if she marries at all. I thought that was good stuff that they touched upon without having to rub it too much in your face.
Doug (vo): But the downside is, you do have to get through two thirds of a movie constantly rubbing everything else in your face. And while it's not the worst, it just sort of seems like everyone's trying to tell their own side of the story in their own particular way, and it just comes out as a bit of a mess. Some jokes work, some characters are memorable, some of the shots of Scotland are incredibly pretty to look at, but I think the film just needed more focus. If they took out some of the stuff we've seen before and instead replaced it with maybe just taking those few elements that work really well and expanding on them, I think we would've had a more decent film. But for what it is, it's not horrible. I dare even say it's not even really that bad. I think getting to the third is worth it, it's just sort of sitting through a lot of mediocrity in order to get there. And the stuff it does different, I think actually does deserve more credit than it gets. I'm glad I saw it, I don't think I'd see it again, but I think it's worth at least one sit-through.
[The film's final scene, showing Merida and her mother riding off on their horses, and a wisp flying away into the sky, is shown]