Friday, June 22, 2012
Make Sure Your Kids are BRAVE before Venturing to See this Movie
I went to see the sneak preview of Brave in early June, so I've had a little time to think and reflect on it. The best way to describe this film is: Breathtaking, lifelike animation with a decent story that might be scary for small kids.
I went to see it with my husband, son, 8, and daughter, 5, and didn't know a whole lot about the story. From beginning to end, this film outdid itself with the animation. It was so lush, so gorgeous, so lifelike, parts felt like it was a non-animated film. It's really visually stunning.
But, because of that, parts of the film, in my opinion, might be scary for smaller kids, especially the large, growling, teeth-baring, paw-swiping bears featured prominently in the film.
The film follows the story of princess Merida, a curly, red-haired girl who loves archery and horse riding and has no interest in doing things typically associated with princesses. Her father, King Fergus, lost his leg to a bear attack (said attack is the opening scene of the film; we do not see King Fergus' leg ripped off, thankfully). Since the "bear incident"--as I like to call it--the king loves hunting bears. Fergus would particularly like to finish off the bear who took his appendage. Queen Elinor, Merida's mother, wants Merida to marry a prince from one of the nearby tribes, in order to keep peace in the Kingdom.
Merida refuses, and during the resulting fight, the princess slashes a tapestry depicting the royal family, leaving her mother's depiction separated from the family's image. Merida then goes into the woods, where she meets a witch and asks the old hag for a formula to change her mother. Without even asking what the formula--tucked into a pastry--will do, Merida returns home and feeds the pastry to her mother. Queen Elinor promptly turns into a bear. This is not good, given the King's hatred of bears.
Merida and her mother escape the castle, and try to find the witch. They learn through a message the witch left behind that Merida must "mend" what she has broken in order to return her mother to human form. If she can't complete the mend by the next sunrise, Elinor will remain a bear forever. Assuming she must mend the tapestry, Merida, with her mother in tow, returns to the castle to try to get the tapestry and reverse the spell.
Will it work? Well, it's a Disney Pixar flick, so I'm sure you can figure out the answer. Overall, the film is entertaining, but my 5-year-old was not particularly happy when the mother turned into a bear; she also looked quite disturbed when the bear queen turned on her daughter, growling menacingly at her (though this was a temporary thing; the bear queen quickly seemed to regain her senses). There are also a couple of intense moments in the film. At one point, King Fergus tries to kill his wife -- refusing to believe his daughter's assertion that the bear is really queen Elinor. Also the queen bear fights with another of her grisly brethren (the near-rabid one who amputated Fergus) in a well-illustrated, very realistic battle scene.
In terms of just a movie-going experience for your average adult; this is a nice film. But, if going as a family, determine first if this kind of stuff will frighten your children before setting off to see BRAVE.
P.S. Mick LaSalle from at the San Francisco wrote a review of BRAVE that somewhat captured some of the misgivings I felt when leaving the film. He notes: "Indeed, what are we to make of a movie about a teenage girl who poisons her mother? That's really what we're talking about here: The daughter gives her mother a poisoned cake that turns Mom into a bear. Furthermore, what are the unconscious impulses behind a story about a daughter, having committing this crime against Mom, then turning around and becoming Mom's greatest defender - even to the point of protecting Mom when Dad unknowingly wants to kill her?" Here's the link to the review: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2012%2F06%2F21%2FDDE11P4EPR.DTL