First, like nearly all Pixar films, it included a bonus short. The short was LA LUNA, which I had actually seen at SFIFF and loved (when it was 2-D. It neither gains nor loses anything in 3-D.) It's the story of a young apprentice learning the ropes and helping out the two men who are caretakers of the moon. And it's (in keeping with the feature) a story of finding your own way in life. And, as an aside, it's dialogue free. For all the attention THE ARTIST and HUGO got last year for popularizing silent films, I think Pixar has been heavily influenced by silent films at least ever since WALL-E (which is silent for nearly all of the first 40 minutes or so.) Heck, my favorite thing about UP was that the destination was pulled right out of THE LOST WORLD (1925.)
Okay, now for the actual feature. BRAVE has made some headlines for being the first Pixar feature (co-)directed by a woman and featuring a female protagonist. There's also been some critical reaction that while it's pretty good it's not really up to Pixar's normal (pre-CARS II) standards. And...I can see some of that, although I can't quite put my finger on it. I think it lacks..."epicness." The TOY STORY movies, although really about a roomful of toys, brought us to the level of toys so that leaving the house becomes an epic journey. Similarly with A BUG'S LIFE becoming epic on a bug's scale. In FINDING NEMO, a fish swims around the world to find his son--epic. And my favorite--WALL-E--took us into space--magnificently epic (even if in all those movies there was a human scale story at its heart.) The only Pixar feature I felt missed that epicness (admittedly, while stupid CARS II did have an epic scale) was RATATOUILLE, and that compensated just through sheer beauty (Paris certainly helps with that.) And BRAVE also has plenty of beauty, courtesy of Scotland. But the previews are misleadingly epic. Based on the intentionally vague previews you'd think this is a story of a head-strong brave young princess who charges into battle and saves her kingdom (after first putting it in peril through a spell that "changes her fate.") In fact, it's the story of a girl who fights with her mother, and through shenanigans related to a spell (that I can't describe because it's way too much of a spoiler) they both learn to treat each other better. A nice, human-scale story. Even a beautiful and touching one at times. But not epic, and I was at least implicitly promised epic. So go in expecting beauty and a surprisingly human-scale story--but not epicness--and you'll probably like it just fine.
Total Running Time: 100 minutes
My Total Minutes: 288,694