When Disney bought Pixar six years ago, it was hoped that the little studio that made "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles" would bring new life to a corporation that had become a princess factory.
Well, in the way of these things, the opposite has happened. Pixar has made "Brave," a bona-fide Disney-style princess movie. And its least satisfying film yet.
"Brave" is the story of Merida, a plucky Scottish princess who wants so badly to defy the fate that dooms her to marry a tribal lord's son that she takes a rash act that threatens the stability of the kingdom and her mother's very life.
There is some pep and gee-whiz-ardry in the visuals, and a commendable theme of mother-daughter conflict and love. But it's a deeply familiar movie, with little of the freshness we associate with Pixar, and it's shot in very dark and unengrossing 3-D.
Maybe its not fair to compare Brave to other Pixar films. But it doesn't stand up against the best Disney productions, either -- not the classics such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves" and "Cinderella" or more recent milestones such as "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast."
It's ordinary, which, in this context, is extraordinarily disappointing.