I've been mulling my reaction to BRAVE, which is, briefly, that while it is a moving story gorgeously told, it's not the story I wanted—and it's not the story promised by the film’s title or preview campaign.
A story about a mother-daughter relationship is a fine thing, and a story arc which ends with Merida being free to make her own choice of a mate, and to maintain her physical engagement of the woods and wild—and also reengages her mother in that wildness—is lovely and welcome. And it's very gorgeous. But as the first and only, much anticipated adventure with a princess as hero story from Pixar, it was not the story I wanted.
BRAVE's story says, here, girls can be heroes of the home, heroes on a domestic scale, they can revolutionize romance and family—but they can’t have an adventure that leads to anywhere other than family and romance. Those are boys’ adventures. There’s nothing wrong with the story BRAVE tells—there’s nothing wrong with the domestic scale—but as Pixar’s long awaited first female protagonist story? There’s a little something wrong there. If it was one story among many, fine, but it wasn’t and, so far, isn’t, one among many. It's not the story I wanted, at all.
What did I want? Though it’s not as fine a movie in any other way, I prefer the arc of Burton’s Alice in his ALICE IN WONDERLAND—she’s a hero and in the end she sets out to have adventures, to explore, to live in the wider world.Jenn Reese says it another way here.