Walt Disney Studios has had some control over Pixar releases for several years, but it never quite showed until this one came out. This one plays less like a Pixar movie than any that came before. Previous Pixar releases are notable for the fact that they seemed very original every time (except Cars 2). Brave was the first release under the Pixar label to "rip off" a genre without clearly spoofing it in the process. This did not play well with us.
Alright, what was fun? Well, even though it wasn't great fun, as a Pixar fan, the story is watchable, unlike A Bug's Life and maybe Cars 2, although it doesn't rank any higher. The animation, what Pixar is known for, was the best yet, but that may just reflect improving technology. It's set in Scotland. (I've always been fascinated by the Celtic lands. I can't say why.) Archery is big. (the sequence in which the Princess does her practice run through the forest is fun to watch. It involves a knothole absolutely packed with arrows.) The best part of it (and this is what I always say) is the score by Patrick Doyle (Eragon, Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter 4) The music was awesome! At times it actually sounded like Braveheart, but that arises from the fact that they both utilize traditional Celtic instruments to fit with the setting. Patrick Doyle is now my favorite composer along with Howard Shore. I hope he does more films I see. There were a few "inside jokes"; one of the clan chieftains looked like a reference to William Wallace, with handprint facepaint (ok, so the handprint was Hamish) and identical son carrying large claymore. This chieftain's name was Macintosh. Since the film was dedicated to Steve Jobs, who had been the majority owner of Pixar and Disney, we took this as an inside joke.
And, what was not so good. This film played more like a "Disney Princess" than a Pixar. And they didn't even really try to make it funny! Previous Pixar releases are full of verbal jokes and situational gags. In this film, they dispensed with those, though I'm sure they could have done better. It disgusted me that the humor in this film consisted of "perfectionist has a temper tantrum.", "body part and clothes or the lack of them gags" and "Dad has no social skills." therefore, it wasn't actually very funny. Also, a major plot point turned on elements some find objectionable, namely, the presence of magic. There is one "joke" in the opening where princess and mom have a laugh at dad for not believing magic exists. (all I can say is, it's supposed to be the middle ages. Superstitious people then and now believe in it.) And then, what do you know, they run into a witch who helpfully "unretires" . The Princess, indulging in the teen stereotype that she's being set upon by her parents, demands something that'll change her mom's personality. Well, that isn't actually what it is and things get steadily worse until she admits that she was at fault, at which point mom changes to "Let's run around and be teens together! That for responsibility! Life should be and games!"
Although, overall, it is not the downright worst Pixar release, (it is occasionally watchable) Brave can not be said to be safe from even the firmest Pixar fans. Brave also, I believe, has the non-distinction of being the first Pixar film to fail to hold the top spot at the box office for more than one week. Even Cars 2 did better.