'Brave': What the Critics are Saying

Brave Merida with Arrow - H 2012
2011 Disney/Pixar

Brave Merida with Arrow - H 2012

THR gathers reviews from the nation's top critics for Pixar's latest film, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman.

Pixar's 13th film, directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, follows an adventurous Scottish princess (voiced by Kelly Macdonald). Chapman is the first woman hired to direct a Pixar feature, and this is also the first time that Pixar Studios have featured a female main character.

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The movie has divided critics, who seem to have expected a transcendent production more along the lines of Pixar's previous work, which includes Toy Story and The Incredibles. The movie currently maintains a 73 percent rating on RottenTomatoes.

Read below for some of the reviews from the top critics:

The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy says "Brave might disappoint many ardent Pixar loyalists while simultaneously delighting old-time Disney fans," pointing out that "for all its pictorial and vocal beauty, the film's emotional line and dramatic contrivances are both more familiar and less inventive than what's usually delivered by [Pixar]. Younger kids won't mind, but many viewers accustomed to relying upon Pixar for something special will feel a sense of letdown due to the lack of adventurousness."

Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan points out that "Brave simply doesn't feel as much like the Pixar movies we've come to expect," and she added, "Given that Brave does break new ground by being the first Pixar film to feature a female protagonist, that feeling of over-familiarity comes as a surprise."

New York Times' Manohla Dargis compares heroine Merida to Disney's princess Rapunzel, saying "There’s so much beauty, so much untamed animation in this hair that it makes Merida look like a hothead, a rebel, the little princess who wouldn’t and didn’t. Then again, Rapunzel has a supernice head of hair too." However she praises Brave's star "Merida is active instead of passive, a doer rather than a gal who hangs around the castle waiting for Prince Charming to rescue her."

Drew Taylor from Indiewire calls the movie "A powerful but wobbly feminist fairy tale," adding, "it's the studio's first period piece, their first fairy tale, and their first film led by a female character. It was, at one point, also the studio's first movie directed by a woman. And it's these firsts, combined with a charming atmosphere and layers of genuine heart, that make you want to love Brave more than you actually do. Because for all these breakthroughs, Brave feels hopelessly safe, less a Pixar trailblazer than yet another entry in the Disney princess line of films and products. Brave it is not."

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Claudia Puig from USA Today praises Pixar's protagonist saying "Princess Merida is endearing, but she's no simpering Sleeping Beauty. Indefatigable and fierce, she's a role model for girls in the 21st century."

Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum says: "In the wee lass' struggle to break that haywire curse, with all the detours, obstacles, funny coincidences, and aw, gee moments typical of such a storytelling path, Brave's modern structure is stalled by Disney-style conventions and values." She continues, "And therein lies the movie's distracting fault line. Merida may be a headstrong heroine, a feisty animated hybrid who calls to mind Katniss Everdeen, Bella Swan, and the neo-fairy-tale protagonist who faces off against her evil stepmother in Snow White and the Huntsman. But she is also, for safety's sake, a nice girl in a pretty green dress who loves her family and believes in dynasty."