So you've all seen Pixar's Brave by now, right? And you all know the big secret the trailers and commercials were preserving, right? If you don't know the secret yet, if you still haven't seen it, or if you just feel like being spoiled, then highlight this seemingly blank space for the answer:
|The secret is that there is absolutely nothing to be "brave" about in the entirety of the film whatsoever. The name and ad campaign were all a marketing gimmick to get you into the seats because they thought you were less likely to buy a ticket for a story about a mother and her daughter squabbling with each other. Did it work?|
Actually, it might be better if you highlighted that paragraph anyway. Disney played a dirty trick on you, and if you expect it going in, the movie is somewhat better. The working title was "The Bear and the Bow," and they should have kept it -- it would have fit the kind of story they were telling better.
For those who have seen it, did you get a feeling of deja vu? Come to think of it, Disney already had a princess like this 25 years ago, and that one was actually brave.
Her name was Calla and she was a resident of Dunwyn Castle. Her "accent" kind of drifted in and out, but she knew how to use a comb. And while the worst thing Merida has to worry about at night is wild animals, Calla had to defend her throne from wizards, giant ogres, maniacal despots and the occasional hypnotizing witch. And she does it, too. Between all this she has to find time to play April O'Neil to a family of ursines.
You're seriously afraid of bears, Merida? Hah! Calla laughs in your face! She can stand right up to bears and never flinch! Bears in several colors! She has friends who are bears! And they'd rough you up if she snapped her fingers!
The Gummis' original friend was the commoner Cavin, but after Calla discovered them, she threw him out of the show and became their primary human contact. They might have complained, but Princess Calla isn't the type you want to risk complaining to.
There was this one time when Dunwyn held a tournament for squires to compete and win the right to become Calla's royal bodyguard. Calla was insulted by the very idea, and horrified at the thought of a chaperone weighing her down from exploring the world. So she dressed up in a knightly disguise and entered the tournament herself. Sounding familiar?
Both Merida and Calla are excellent archers, and while I won't deny Merida can hit a small signpost dead-center from 50 feet away while riding horseback at full speed, Calla can shoot arrows so fast that she can clip an apple off a branch with one and nail it to the tree's trunk with another! Calla is a human machine gun!
She can even hit moving targets. The other squires started getting peeved at being bested by the disguised Calla and hitched the target post to a horse. Calla hit the bullseye as the horse was racing around the field. Anyone can split an arrow -- Robin Hood was pulling that trick 700 years ago. Try this on for size, redhead!
This was one task of several; the final being the first to retrieve a golden apple from Yon Pendragon Hill. We've already seen how stylishly Calla can pick an apple, but when that apple is guarded by a fearsome black knight with a booming voice and battleaxe, will her bow remain as steady?
It was no problem! Calla used cunning tricks and acrobatics to evade the knight's blade and shoot down the golden apple in record time. Merida would have wet herself minutes ago.
Unfortunately the "knight" turns out to be her father, King Gregor, and she has to retreat before he unmasks her. That didn't go so well; what to do now? Run to her room and throw a tantrum? Go bother a shifty witch to get a potion that promises to "change your fate" in the vaguest way possible? Forget that noise -- Calla 'fesses up to her shenanigan that very evening. Gregor is so impressed by her derring-do, however, he breaks the rules and declares her the winner of the tournament.
That isn't even her most heroic moment -- it's one of several. There was this other time when some stranger in a body-covering cloak approached King Gregor as he was strolling around Dunwyn's marketplace, asking him to examine a glass egg for no other reason than it "was pretty." As soon as the king took it, the man pulled off his cloak to reveal his identity as Duke Igthorn (which shouldn't have been a surprise, but you know cartoons). Duke wants to kill Gregor, but he's on a Saturday Morning TV series in the 1980's, and by Disney no less. He has to go about it in such a roundabout way that parents will be too confused to realize what he's really trying to do. So the moment King Gregor takes the egg, he.....
....turns into a blue statue, or ice sculpture.....or sparkly plastic figure......with a shrunken version of himself....imprisoned motionless inside the egg. Duke grabs the egg and holds it aloft, declaring that if he is not given control of Dunwyn and crowned king today, he'll smash the egg! And that'll do it! A bit more convoluted than using a gun or knife, but like I said, roundabout.
Calla is visibly upset. But she realizes she can't just sit around and wait for others to help. She and the Gummis have to come up with a plan to save her father's life!
None of the king's knights can approach Igthorn's castle or Igthorn will kill Gregor right then. The only way to get inside would be if Igthorn believed a visitor to be an ally, so Calla and Gruffi Gummi rig another black knight (second so far this article) with mechanics that Gruffi can operate inside.
Back at Igthorn's, he's gloating about his assured victory and trying on royal robes he made for himself, when the giant knight approaches, accompanied by a heavily bearded man with an effeminate tone in his voice. "IF YOU'RE GONNA BE KING," the knight projects loudly, "YOU NEED PROTECTION. AND I'M YOUR MAN!" Most of Igthorn's ogres are in awe, except for one. Igthorn's right-hand toady, who is literally named Toady, is less than thrilled about the prospect of being replaced.
To test the legend of this Dark Knight, Igthorn sends all his ogres to attack him, and they just ricochet off the body. Meanwhile, while the distraction is working, Calla sneaks through Igthorn's place searching for the egg. Toady notices her and follows, hoping he's caught onto something that he can report and get Iggy's attention back.
Calla finds the egg's location, which is at the top of a tower guarded by dogs. She retrieves a large bone from the soup kitchen, but Toady follows her and catches up, demanding to know why she was snooping around the kitchen. Calla's response, with a grin on her face she can't contain, is to open the latch the dogs are behind and throw the bone in Toady's direction. They snarl off chasing him, and Calla is free to rescue Pop.
The ladder, however, wasn't steady and Calla starts to fall backwards...and drops the egg! Gruffi rushes to catch it, and does, blowing his cover, darn it. Igthorn orders their immediate capture. Just when it seems like they're cornered against the balcony, Calla rips off her disguise, the Gummi Bear hops out of the armor and they leap off down the mountain, using the armor as a sled.
Calla bobsleds like an Olympian, handling tight turns smoothly and bowling over ogres by the dozens. "CLOSE THE GATE!" Igthorn hollers, and the drawbridge starts to grind upward! Calla SOARS off the edge into the air, letting out a wild cheer of exhilaration! You want bravery? You want epic action with a fearless princess? HERE it is, in this teddy bear cartoon! If you pay $10.50 like a sucker you won't get anything nearly this exciting. But at least it'll be in 3-D.
Okay, it's not like Merida doesn't have ANY advantages over Calla. Calla's an only child and her dad's a sterotypical snore. Merida's little brothers are awesome and so is her huge, loud, meaty dad. I liked the characters in Brave a lot, but I wish something more original was done with them than what really happened. I want to see their potential exploited better. I want to see a Brave 2 with a plot that I can't guess the trajectory of. Maybe she can become an international spy in the sequel; I wouldn't see that coming.
Actually, as long as we're sizing up princesses, I really want to compare them both to Princess Dimple Kothari, but I don't know the extent of her powers yet.
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