Here we have a superb, beautiful, well-written and well-acted, exciting Walt Disney animated feature. The only trouble is, it’s supposed to be a Pixar film. Yes, of course Pixar is now owned by Disney, it said so right up at the front of the movie. But it still should be the Pixar brand, and this isn’t. What Pixar has been good at—splendidly good at—right from the git-go—is things that are unusual, things that stand out from the amazing plethora of CGI animation we see these days. Other studios make good animated films, too. Shrek, Ice Age … give me a little more time and I’m sure I can come up with more good non-Pixar films. But none of them have quite the stroke of genius of films like Up (an adventure about an old man with a walking cane, and you’re crying five minutes into it!), WALL-E (which has no real dialogue for 40 minutes), or the Toy Story trilogy (the only animated series that was as good at the end as it was in the beginning). Until the only partially successful Cars 2, they were batting a thousand.
And now, Brave. Don’t get me wrong. I loved it. I loved the bright and brassy and spunky heroine, Pixar’s first female protagonist. But I could also see that she was destined to become the 11th Disney Princess. I expect that if I were to visit Disneyland tomorrow, I’d see a lot of little pre-teen girls with flaming red wigs and sparkly green dresses. (Merida is not yet officially a Disney Princess, but it seems inevitable.)
I think the problem … well, it’s not really a problem, but the thing that sets this film apart from all the other Pixar films is the historical setting. All the others take place either in a setting of total fantasy (A Bug’s Life; Monsters, Inc.; Finding Nemo) or with a more or less modern background (Cars, Ratatouille, Up, The Incredibles). Look at the Disney films, and we see that many of them happen in fairytale land, which is pretty much where this one happens, too. So, good film, but not up to Pixar’s mind-blowing standards, in my opinion.
I see they have six other movies in production. Three of them are untitled. One deals with the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, which sounds interesting … but what about The Nightmare Before Christmas? It is so hard to come up with a totally new idea. Another “takes you inside the mind,” according to Wiki. That sounds new. Of the other three, two are sequels, Monsters University and Finding Nemo 2, which I worry about, and The Good Dinosaur, which worries me, too. There have been a lot of dinosaur movies. Let’s hope they can work their magic on all six of these titles.