The fair young maiden is dead and gone — all female leads in action-adventure-fantasy pics set in any period have to follow the Neytiri/Katniss Everdeen example. (Not to mention Kristen Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman, Natalie Portman in Your Highness and Cate Blanchett‘s Maid Marian in Robin Hood.) Strong and feisty, a canny survivor, an armed combatant and tough cookie, good with a knife or a bow-and-arrow, skilled in martial arts, etc.

Which is well and good — nobody wants to go back to “some day my prince will come.” But it’s the same old groove over and over again, no?

“Brave seems a wee bit conventional by comparison with, say, how radically The Incredibles reinvented the superhero genre,” writes Variety‘s Peter Debruge. “Adding a female director to its creative boys’ club, the studio has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo.

“Though going all girly has made parent company Disney skittish in the past (most recently retitling its Rapunzel adventure Tangled to play to crossover interest), this new Celtic princess comes off as enough of a tomboy to ensure near-universal appeal. As its title suggests, Brave offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren’t so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair.”