Summary (without spoiling it for you)
In a land reminiscent of the ancient British Isles, filled with peoples reminiscent of Vikings and Celts, lives a princess named Merida. She’s an independent, bushy red-haired “tom-boy,” but she’s also soon to be married to a prince of one of the nearby clans… and she’s not too thrilled about that latter part.
Merida lives in a land that contains four clans, each of which apparently fought together in some war back in the day. But now, their treaty with one another depends on intermarriage between their sons and daughters. They rely heavily on this tradition.
Merida finds herself in a struggle. She feels extreme pressure, especially from her mother, to marry one of the princes lest she refuse to do so and war breaks out. In order to escape this conflict of interests Merida seeks a solution, ends up getting mixed up with some magic, that magic (of course) causes some problems, and the rest of the movie is resolution of that problem. However, underlining this “surface level plot” is the primary plot–the restoration and strengthening of Marida’s poor relationship with her mother.
So how do I rate it?
Eh? You see, I’m not really into movies. They tend to bore me and I often fall asleep while “watching” them. But, I do like Pixar. In fact, Pixar makes my favorite movies. I loved Toy Story 1 and 3. Finding Nemo was great. Up is a personal favorite of my wife and I. Etc., etc., etc. So maybe my expectations were too high, but Brave did not meet the “Pixar standard” in my opinion. I mean, it wasn’t bad. There were definite moments of suspense, action, and of course Pixar’s typical humor. But Brave wasn’t fantastic and it certainly was not Pixar’s best effort.
Of course, as always, Pixar does a great job in regards to their quality of production. Everything looked great. They had several amazing (of course, computer animated) shots of landscape and I was particularly impressed with the detail of Merida’s large, frizzy, curly mess of red hair (see below).
Every form of media is presented from a distinct worldview (see definition → [1. A worldview is one’s network, framework, and system of beliefs about reality. In other words, it’s your presuppositions, your base level/foundation beliefs, which determine how you understand and interpret the world, your existence, morality, etc. It determines how you answer questions like, “how do you know we can know anything?” or “what makes something right and what makes something else wrong?” As such, everyone who lives has a worldview whether they realize it or not.]) and its message is therefore presented from that specific perspective. Consequently, this movie presents a distinct message of reality based on its underlying worldview; and that message pertains specifically to the concept of fate. The opening line of the movie addresses the issue of fate, the middle of the movie continues to discuss it, and the closing line is about fate.
Fatalism is the belief in fate (duh). It is the most intense form of determinism (see definition → [2. Determinism is the belief that everything that happens is determined. In other words, nothing else could happen but what actually happens due to the conditions that cause what happens. Everything that happens is bound to happen due to the conditions that make it happen. (Different types of determinism disagree on these said conditions.]). Now, there are many definitions of, ideas about, and types of fatalism, but the typically understanding of fatalism is the idea that the outcome of everything that happens is set in stone and that there is absolutely nothing one can do to change it.
But now Brave does something very strange with this idea of fate. The movie’s message, which it literally states out-loud, is that Merida, and the rest of us (being implied), choose our own fate. Now, according to the definition of fatalism, that statement makes no sense. Now, the statement isn’t saying that we choose and it just so happens to be what our fate was all along (lucky us!) No, it’s saying that we determine our fate. But according to the definition of fate, we have no control over it. So, to be honest, I have no idea what Brave is talking about here.
Why is this important? Well, as Christian’s we want to make sure that we filter our intake of said earthly worldviews as we try to form our worldview as much to a Biblical understanding as possible. In the case of the movie Brave, we’ll have to filter out the idea of fate–that our decisions and choices have nothing to do with the outcomes. However, we can accept from Brave the idea that we are responsible for our choices and our choices have results that shape the ultimate outcome. Altogether, in the Biblical worldview, we see the dual truths that God has both determined everything (that is, decreed or ordained all things) that happens and that we as humans make choices for which we are responsible.
Comparatively speaking, this movie is fantastically appropriate. In other words, compared to most other movies now days, this movie is extremely clean. However, comparison isn’t normally the best method of judgment, especially with a “family friendliness” quality in mind (which is why I only gave Brave two stars for appropriateness). So, allow me to list some inappropriate aspects of the movie.
- Animated Immodesty – One of the queen’s servants wears dresses throughout the movie that are rather low cut. And at one point, one of Merida’s little brothers mischievously gets a little too up close and personal with this lady.
- Animated Nudity – Now, when I say “nudity” I’m not talking about an “adult form” of nudity, thank goodness. But the movie does try to create some laughs at various moments through the means of nudity. At one point a man moons a crowd of people (his animated rear is not visible). At another point, a large group of men walk across the scene without pants (this time animated butts are seen). There is another moment in the movie when one character’s nudity is pointed out (the character is completely covered however). A positive note about that latter incident is that a nearby character tells others to look away. And lastly, again further characters are seen running around completely naked (only their back sides are visible).
- Mischievousness – You can expect a lot of “prank” type activity and general mischievousness in this movie. The men of the clans don’t act particularly civilized and Merida’s brothers like to play jokes on people throughout the movie.
- Magic/Witchcraft – You should know that an element of magic underlines most the entire movie. “Whisps” (blue spirit beings) seem to guide people to the proper fate. And with the plot comes a witch and her witchcraft.
- Scariness – Be forewarned that if you plan on taking younger children to this movie, there may be a few scenes that they find a bit frightening and intimidating.
- Violence – Lastly, there is quite a bit of violence in this movie. Now, I’m not talking like a rated “R,” war movie violence, but the men of the clans are constantly fighting (just your good ol’ animated swashbuckling action). But more so, during the “scarier” moments, there tends to be some more “intense” violence.
Negative attributes manifested
- Rebellion – Merida exemplifies some bold disobedience and rebellion throughout most of the movie. Unfortunately, this rebellious attitude is not exactly placed in a negative light either. Although Merida’s strong-willed disobedience is the source of the plot’s conflict, that conflict’s resolution doesn’t actually directly address her rebellion. Rather, it seems to accept it by bypassing the issue to a degree (see “humility” below).
- Mischievousness – Of course, goofing around is not a bad quality. Being light hearted can be a good thing. But the mischievousness in this movie can be a little excessive. Consequently, at times it’s often disobedient, irresponsible, and foolish.
Positive attributes manifested
- Responsibility – Despite what I have said about this movies “worldview” (see above), it’s underlining theme of fate and Merida’s ability to choose her own fate does manifest in Merida a sense of responsibility–if she is to choose her fate she is also responsible for her choices.
- Humility – Part of the plot’s resolution involves Merida confessing her pride, humbling herself, and apologizing.
Overal – 2.5
Storyline – 2
Quality – 5
Worldview – 3
Appropriateness – 2
Morals – 2