It wasn't necessarily a bad movie. And of course now everyone (who read Sunday's post) knows we went into it with a little bit of a negative bias. Nevertheless! based on the trailers, I thought for sure we'd be so taken in with the wonderful, magical Scottish fairy tale setting that we'd like it in spite of ourselves.
This turned out not to be the case, for one very important reason: we don't relate with Merida. Like, at all. I mean, of course we've had our differences with our mother, but for different reasons, I think, and we weren't really the rebellious type. In fact, we related much better to Merida's mother, the high standard holding perfectionist. That might be part of why we like Ariel better--we didn't relate so well with her antagonist. But I think the main reason we like Ariel better (something about those redheads and not being able to follow the rules...) is that her movie did a much better job showing her emotions and how deeply she wanted to go to the human world. Ariel specifically wanted something that her father wouldn't let her have, while Merida was just like, "Stop controlling me, okay!? You're not the boss of me!"
I will grant that marriage is a huge thing and I'm pretty sure most people these days can relate to not wanting an arranged marriage. And those suitors were extremely unappealing. But it kind of seemed like she was mad at her mom already, and the marriage thing is just what pushed her over the edge.
Anyway, not being able to relate so well to Merida probably wouldn't have been so much of a problem if there had been any other character with a significant amount of screen time. Her father got a lot of time with the pointless boring fight scenes, and her mother spent a lot of time adventuring with Merida...after she turned into a bear and couldn't talk. And speaking of that! I already said we related better to Elinor, which is a big part of why we were so aggravated at how she was portrayed. A woman as prim and proper as that would not ever get dirty water to drink, regardless of how little experience she's had camping. She shouldn't need her tomboy daughter to go find the clean water for her.
The point is, even though Merida made the enormous mistake of buying a spell from a witch, she was always the right one about everything. She constantly makes terrible decisions, but she's portrayed as the smart one. This is supposed to be a movie about a mother and daughter learning to get along, so why couldn't Elinor be right once in a while? The only time they let her be right was when they had her say that Merida was right after all. And there wasn't a whole lot of material in the movie to explain what triggered the change of heart. It was just like, "She's a hard-headed woman who has to stick with tradition! Until suddenly she's not."
We think the problem there is that the movie-makers assumed that, because obviously Merida's ideas are right and Elinor's are wrong, there doesn't need to be any convincing--the audience wouldn't have any problem with the lack of logical progression, because it just makes sense that people think that way.
Still, there were some things about the movie that were very, very good. Merida learned her lesson and accepted responsibility for her horrible, horrible decision-making skills, and she's even forced to admit it out loud, which is awesome. The witch was a really fun character (except for that enormous earlobe; I don't understand why people like those), and of course Scotland is gorgeous.
And there's our semi-coherent review of Brave. Tadah.
Today I'm thankful for having another laid-back day, the "fresh waters" scented air freshener we got (that doesn't really smell watery in any way, but still smells nice), Page helping me pay the bills, getting to work on Saiyuki a little more today, and finding my new ATM card.