As I begin this review, I should confess I’m not a big Pixar fan. Although I do recognize the charm the films hold, I don’t find them as entertaining as most people do. Much of that has to do with the animation style. The environments look great, but I find the human beings to resemble lifeless marionettes many times. The atmospheres of the movies are too “cute” for me as well. I’m not big on “cute” when it comes to animated movies.
All that being said, Disney and Pixar’s “Brave” is as good as their films come. It has all the right elements of a classic fairy tale with a few twists thrown in to keep things modernized. There’s a princess, a witch, and some kooky animals in a faraway land.
The only thing missing is a prince to save the day. Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) makes it very clear to her parents that she doesn’t need a prince to fulfill her life’s ambitions or save her. She wants to live life on her own terms free of the trappings and responsibilities of being royalty.
Merida stumbles upon a witch (Julie Walters) that gives her a spell to change the Queen’s (Emma Thompson) mind about marrying one of three suitors from other clans. The spell does more than change her mother’s mind; it physically transforms her into the most feared creature in the kingdom – a gargantuan bear. Merida frantically looks for a way to change the Queen back before her father (Billy Connolly) and fellow huntsmen track her down. They mistakenly believe her to be the bear that took the King’s leg.
In usual fashion, there are lessons for everyone to learn in “Brave.” One is children should be careful what they wish for and value their parents. The other is that parents should give children the freedom to choose their own paths in life. It wouldn’t be a Disney or Pixar movie without some sort of words of wisdom.
“Brave” is successful as a whole. I’m glad I gave it a chance after skipping it in theaters. The initial marketing campaign for the movie offered no real motivation for me to see it in theaters. I did get a bit frustrated during the climax with some of Merida’s illogical decisions. The different settings in the film really do carry you away to a fantasy world and help put you into the middle of the story and action.
The movie looks and sounds phenomenal in its high-definition version. Merida’s bright red hair magically stands out against the backdrops of dark green meadows and grey castle walls. All the sounds of waterfalls and roaring bears mixed with cultural musical numbers spring to life through an elegant 7.1 surround mix.
There’s plenty of special bonus material to give consumers their money’s worth. Director Mark Andrews, co-director Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen, and Editor Nick Smith all provide commentary for the film. It also includes two shorts entitled “The Legend of Mordu” and “La Luna.” “The Legend of Mordu” features the witch from “Brave” telling the story of the Demon Bear. We get eight “behind-the-scenes” featurettes, four extended scenes, an alternate opening, several art galleries, and plenty more.
Disney / Pixar’s 5-Disc Combo Pack of “Brave” has everything admirers of the movie could want. You can choose whether you want to watch it in 3D or 2D. The different formats make it easy to view anywhere on any sort of device. If you’re curious how the movie was created there’s plenty of “making of” and “behind-the-scenes” material to educate you. This is the perfect addition to any family’s home entertainment library.