I guess I'm not cool.
The only reason why I think Brave hasn't gotten great reviews is because the reviewers don't want to appear to be enthusiastic, awed, or impressed by Pixar's latest effort. IMDB has it at a 7.8 out of 10.
Really? That low? Which film did you watch?
The film that I watched was amazing. I would give it a nine and a half. I would call it the best animated film of the year, bar none. I would put it up there with Finding Nemo and Tangled. If Finding Nemo had been done with the same level of technology that Pixar had available to it with Brave, wow.
Purely as animation, Brave is a masterpiece. The story is fantastic. The characters are wonderfully fleshed out and the voice acting is superb. Kelly Macdonald is so good in this film that it will open up an entirely new career for her if she chooses to follow that path. It's an original story and it absolutely hits you in the chest. I wish there was more done with the neolithic history of Scotland and with the stone circles and things of that nature. I really liked the historical and social aspect of the film, which made it even more interesting to me.
My only theory on the bad reviews would be this--because Brave is about a young girl, and is primarily about her struggles and her identity, there is a gender backlash against it. Someone else is going to have to write their dissertation on this. Someone a hell of a lot smarter than me is going to have to figure out why people are giving this film lukewarm reviews.
Is it because of a fickle marketplace? One wrapped up in latent geekery and superhero worship? I hated Madagascar 3 and deemed it unworthy of a review. I thought it was junk and I got bored with it, fast.
During Brave, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The detail and the design choices are really impressive. And, we're not just talking about Merida's hair; we're talking forests and castles and chases and the sequence where she rides a horse through the forest and shoots her bow is something special.
I will not add any spoilers. I will tell you this--ignore the critics and go see Brave, no matter how old you are.