The first time you see Merida's red curly hair flowing in the wind as she rides atop her horse going full speed at the beginning of Brave you immediately know that this is not your typical Pixar film.
And to that I say Hallelujah. Not that I have anything against Toy Story or Cars. But it's seriously about time that our friends at Pixar have gotten around to creating a film with a strong girl at the center.
Hopes were very high for this film, probably too high, as the trailers have portrayed Merida as a perfect heroine for our time -- a girl who fights stereotypes, shoots arrows (interestingly, this is the second film this year with a strong girl with archery skills) -- mixed with a dose of spunk and fun. The character does live up to expectations though I have to admit that the story went off on an unexpected course that was at first jarring, and now with reflection, I realize the twist is kind of brilliant.
Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) is a princess who needs to marry to keep the kingdom stable. Her mother (voiced by Emma Thompson) is doing her best to reign in her spirit and prepare her for her princess responsibilities. But, Merida wants none of it. She doesn't want to and is clearly not ready get married. She doesn't want the responsibilities attached to her title, and most especially, she does not want to become her mother. In her mother she sees a woman besieged with responsibilities who cares more about the kingdom than her own daughter's happiness. She makes her feelings clear and deeply hurts her mother.