Whenever a new Disney movie is announced I get both excited and nervous. I love Disney so much, but over the years, I can't help but feel that it has been losing its touch. The company is adapting to a changing market, which is understandable, but at the same time, it is sacrificing much of the magic it held in its early years.
When Disney Pixar came along and made Toy Story in 1995, the 3D animation brought Disney into the modern era, but it managed to maintain the Disney magic. But again, its last few films such as Cars and Up have failed to live up to my expectations.
When I saw the trailer to Brave, I thought it looked like they had got back on track. It was going to feature Pixar's first princess, and I was interested to see how they were going to pull it off.
I never went to see Brave at the cinema because I knew that I would buy it on DVD in a few months time. With all my anticipation, those few months seemed to last forever, especially after hearing all the good reviews.
The film was eventually released late in November, and I eagerly headed down to HMV to buy it. I paid £1. Okay, that's not technically true. The DVD was £12, but I had a gift voucher. Once I got home, I popped it into my DVD player and let viewing commence.
Sadly, all the time I waited did not paid off. I was left feeling disappointed. Although the film has excellent characterisation and explores the strained relationship between a mother and daughter very well, it fails to capture the essence of Disney. The reason for this? It is like I said before, they have adapted to a changing market, which these days seems to mean that teenage characters - even if they are set in the medieval period - have to act like modern day youths.
The best example I have of this is from Disney's Tangled. The film's tag line about Rapunzel is that she has been grounded 'for like forever'. I can actually imagine Rapunzel and, Brave's Merida being BFFs, who constantly text 'OMG' to one another about the latest pop star.
Merida does feel very real, but she feels like a contemporary teenager, not a Celtic princess from the Scottish Highlands. That is the part that is missing for me.
And while some things may appear to be missing, there are other elements that I could swear I have seen before. At one point I thought I was watching a remake of Brother Bear.
When Merida is forced into an arranged marriage by her mother, Elinor, she runs away in an attempt to change her fate. In the forest Merida comes across a witch and asks for help. The witch gives Merida a cake for Elinor to eat, which will apparently change her fate.
When Merida gives the cake to her mother, Elinor is transformed into a bear. Yep, a bear. Just like Kenai in Brother Bear. The two scenes where both Elinor and Kenai become aware of their transformation parallel each other right down to the characters' expressions and movements. To change back, they also have to learn very similar lessons. To me it made Brave feel recycled.
There are, however, many positive things about the movie. For example, I was very pleased by the wealth of British actors in the film, which included Billy Connolly (who is perfect for the role of King Fergus), Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, and Emma Thompson. The landscapes and little details really help bring out the vibe of Scotland, and it gave a positive message to children.
Kids will love the film, and I don't dislike it; it just feels too modern. Maybe I'm being a grumpy old woman - but as I am 22 that makes for a rather sad state of affairs.