After their heavy domination in the realm of animation, Pixar finally lost the lead last year. The 2012 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature went to Rango and if Pixar rely on Brave to win another Oscar or at least to restore their image, I don't think they will succeed. Brave is neither very good nor brave. It's a decent movie but it leaves more a taste of mediocrity when you know it's made by Pixar.
Brave is about young Princess Merida whose least desirable wish is to be a princess. She's good in archery and horse riding. She does not like to wear tight good-looking dresses. And she does not want to marry somebody her mother or a competition chooses. Merida's rebelliousness is about to start a war in her father's kingdom. So when she incidentally meets a witch she does not hesitate to ask for sorcery in order to change her life and her mother. But the magic does not work the way Merida expects so now she has to act fast and break the spell or its unpleasant effect will remain permanent.
The story is nothing original. A child opposes her parents' will and some complications appear, eventually helping them to resolve the issues. The theme is recycled many times and the main feature of Brave is it's animated. But the story itself is not told in a very interesting way. The plot is kept alive by some illogical actions (who needs to bring a bear in a castle while simultaneously trying to hide it just to take a tapestry from a wall). There are references to ancient events that are pretty much redundant. And Merida has a father who is probably supposed to be a funny character but he's actually acting just plain stupid and is completely uninterested in his family doings. Well, it's not that his daughter is acting smarter most of the time but Ok, she's still a child and it is an animated movie after all.
The visuals are well crafted yet this is naturally expected when Pixar are involved. Some of the landscapes in Brave look almost like real ones. Of course, water scenes are not among these and people are not even supposed to look authentic. The mandatory songs for an animated feature are not omitted. And they as well as everything else sound Scottish, which could be good or bad, or even distracting depending on your preference.
Unfortunately, Pixar are not "brave" this time and they do not take any risks with Brave. This furthers the movie's mediocrity. Brave has a standard story and everything happens the way you would expect from a Disney film. Indeed, it shouldn't be an obstacle for everybody and especially kids will probably find the movie and its characters entertaining. As for recapturing older audience, I think Pixar have to work harder. It seems they are running out of fresh ideas but if they want to be hugely successful again producing just gorgeous animations won't be enough. We need more than a simplistic story and a witty dialogue to begin praising their movies anew.