It’s almost too easy to pick on a film easily dubbed “less Pixar, more Disney.” The two most significant and successful North American animation studios may coexist within the same financial organization, but their creative ethos are worlds apart: Aesthetically, in terms of sheer animation ingenuity, Pixar is the clear winner, and the younger studio has also raised the bar for storytelling complexity, progressive themes, and the development of more interesting, universally-appealing characters in animated feature films. Pixar has consistently come out ahead, but its lifespan is only a fraction of Disney’s. Somewhere along the line Pixar was bound to create a less-than-innovative product—the result of which was last year’s Cars 2 (though Up had already begun to reveal the occasionally flimsy machinery behind Pixar’s magic). Brave is a brave but ultimately flawed follow-up; it still feels like sub-par Pixar, and the obvious comparisons to Disney princess fairy tales makes it something of a creative regression. But its chief merits are worth fighting for, however flawed the film may be, and the film comes very close to being an almost virtuous feminist animated fairy tale.