Along with my granddaughter and grandson I went to see the new blockbuster animated feature “Brave” from Disney/Pixar. “Brave” has made quite splash on the movie scene and has been a top money maker as Number 1 for a couple of weeks before I got to see it and form an opinion about it. Now before I go any further I have to say upfront that I have been a Disney fan since the days of the original “Mickey Mouse” Club on TV. So I’ve been around long enough to see the corporate culture changes since Walt’s days.
I am aware that the releases of Disney animation films alternate between the central character being female one year and that of a male protagonist the following release cycle. It’s been a mainstay of Disney to do it that way to keep their market focus coming.
Over the years the strength of Disney characters for girls has been its Princesses and this film has Princess Merida introduced to the royal court of Disney Princesses. But she’s not the of the Snow White variety nor that of the Princess in “Tangled.” That is she’s one Princess who is not depending on a Prince to rescue her from the deed she conjures up with a local witch, who looks very much like the Snow White nemesis, the evil Queen. Indeed not, for in this film Disney has taken a leap to actually give the Princess two loving parents. The king of course being form the old school is supported by his Queen and wife to bring forth possible candidates to seek the hand of his daughter. Merida will have none of it and there in lies the tale which unfolds. The Princess is a feisty, warrior, free spirit girl set on choosing her own man when and if she chooses to do so.
With wonderfully portrayed characters such as her mother, the Queen and father, the King and triplet toddler brothers who add mischief in typical boy style, she defies tradition by using her skill as an archer. Yes, archery is in since the “Hunger Games” phenomenon. Anyway it reminded me of “Robin Hood” which as a live action film with Errol Flynn or Disney’s musical animated version with animals as the characters and that is a good thing for me.
All of this is set against what seems to be a Celtic background but in ancient Scotland. The background release says 10th Century but that isn’t quite right given the dialogue referring to the Romans and so forth. In any case the absence of more authentic symbols of the period bothered me. That aside the film was a delight to watch. Full of action within life like digital sets which Pixar does so well. The story transports you to a time long gone but remembered romantically and nostalgically as it just recently vanished form our midst rather than over a thousand years ago.
Now the next animated feature from Disney is “Wreck It Ralph.” It’s central character is indeed male, a video game hero who is 9 ft. tall and 643 pounds. His job will be to save the video game. It comes out in fall. No doubt it’s video connection will be attractive to boys in particular. Nevertheless may I just add that I hope Disney will come up with a Prince Charming who is smart, courageous and has a vision to save the kingdom. And please do so before my grandsons are too old to be positively impacted by the great story telling talents which still resides in Disney/Pixar. And here’s a name to toss about. How about “Prince Will?”
Using the grading system of my teaching days, “Brave” receives an A-.
(Arthur Cola is the author of 4 novels and screenplays. Producer/director Ron Kolman is developing his screenplay “Ring of the Magi.” His new novel, The Brooch, has just been released on amazon.com/kindle and in print at www.feedaread.com).