We went to see Brave tonight, and it wasn’t a bad movie, but I can’t help but feel it could have been better.

I’ve heard it described as Pixar’s first fairy tale, and that seems about right. It definitely has the feel of a fairy tale, albeit one we haven’t already heard a hundred times before. The mystical elements are presented as real with no explanation or rationalization, they’re part of the tale and the world and you take them at face value.

The movie almost felt cut short to me, though the storytelling was fairly tight, I don’t think there’s very much they could have stripped away to add other things in and it was spot on the 100 minute mark around which most kids movies seem to run. In the end, I would have liked to know more about what happens next, not because I care a lot about the characters but because they set the movie up in such a way that what’s left hanging feels like a really big apple. That’s what left me most disappointed, was the things that felt like broken promises. That and what appeared to be one giant whopper of a continuity error, but I digress.

I have theories on why the movie leaves me feeling wanting, but there’s really not a lot to say about it here without spoiling it so I’ll pass on it for now and relegate my thoughts to my private notes. I will say it caught me by surprise at a few points, so Pixar did a very good job of keeping some of the BIG THINGS out of the trailers (I’m looking at you, Prometheus).

The characters… Here too I don’t know what to say without spoiling things. The  main character, for all that she’s Pixar’s first attempt at a female star, fell a little bit short for me. It’s not that the character wasn’t convincing but she didn’t feel as strong, when it counted, as the hype made her out to be. It almost doesn’t feel like this is Merida’s story, but to explain it further would dip into the spoilery theories I wanted to avoid from the last paragraph.

The kids definitely enjoyed themselves (though my oldest son confirmed that “this was NOT better than Star Wars”). I think it was a big enough movie to merit seeing on the big screen, and definitely enjoyable for little ones if you have them.

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