If one can believe the critics, this is the worst Pixar movie since Cars 2. ...okay, that's not really all that informative. Going by Rotten Tomatoes and if you exclude the Cars films, the lowest rated Pixar film was A Bug's Life at 92%. The first Cars movie was a disaster, critically speaking, for Pixar. It only got 74%. Which would make it a decent movie by the standards of a lot of other studios. Of course it made a ton of money in merchandising so they made Cars 2, which got an appalling 38%.
So Brave has had a few days of reviews behind it, and it's currently right at... 74%, making it (critically) exactly as good as the first Cars movie.
So i wonder if this means Pixar is starting to regress towards the mean, or if there's something else up. Maybe critics just don't get it for some reason? Maybe there's something about celtic mythology that throws them off? Also, one of the few review blurbs i've seen (i've tried to avoid reading full reviews, don't want any spoilers) said something about how the story was too slow paced. That's similar to some of the complaints we heard about John Carter, and we loved John Carter. Maybe those of us who read lots of books have different expectations about pacing than the average film critic?
Of course Brave's production has been slightly more troubled than most. When it was first announced some people were very excited that it was Pixar's first movie with a female protagonist _and_ its first movie with a female director, Brenda Chapman, who also came up with the basic concept of the film. Then midway through production Brenda Chapman was replaced by Mark Andrews. This seems to be is his first stint as a director of a feature film, mostly doing storyboard and writing before (and now that i check, including co-writer for... John Carter. Interesting.) All that's been said about the replacement is that it involved "creative differences." (I guess the original reports were that she was fired, but apparently she was only removed as the director and went on a leave of absence. So she was "fired" from the movie, but not the company.)
So if the final consensus ends up being that this is the worst of all Pixar's non-merchandising films, i wonder what the reason for that is, and what it will end up being attributed to. Certainly replacing a director halfway through is not a great sign, but you could say that Pixar made a mistake in replacing Brenda Chapman, or you could say they made a mistake in not replacing her soon enough. I of course would probably tend towards the view that the guys in charge didn't like or didn't understand a movie with a more female bent so they fired her and then screwed it up, at least until shown some kind of evidence to cause me to believe otherwise. But at the very least that kind of judgment is going to have to wait until i've actually seen the movie and know if any kind of criticism is even warranted or not :)