Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is a princess that lives with her family; Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson); king Fergus (Billy Connolly); and her triplet brothers. Merida loves her freedom and being in the wild, it’s what makes her happy. However, her whole life has been molded by the queen who believes that Merida should be a proper lady. Against Merida’s will, the queen arranges three tribes to come to her kingdom and participate for her hand. As Merida escapes to the forest she finds a wicked old witch (Julie Walters) who she convinces to create a potion to change her mother. The potion is not what she wanted and ends up turning her mother into a bear. Now Merida is against time, if she doesn’t find a way to reverse the potion her mother will be lost forever.
I always enjoyed everything that Pixar releases to the masses, at least the majority of their films (let’s exclude Cars 2 from that list), but I felt that their catalog was somehow missing something. Seeing how Disney’s early success with princess stories it was only a matter of time before Pixar took a shot at the process fairy tale. I must admit that for their first try they did a fantastic job. At first glance at the title, I was expecting something different, but once the film was over and the credits began to roll I felt that the expectations set beforehand were met. The story is set around Merida, but this is not your classic fairy tale that deals with a love story and a knight in shining armor, no this is not what Brave is about. In fact Merida has this kick ass attitude and Pixar made sure to give her a fitting personality. Her presence always resonates in every scene she is in; if anything you will find yourself rooting for her as the story progresses. She is placed in the middle of a beautiful setting that helps fulfill her wild and free soul. If anything, Brave appears to have been well planned.
The whole production was excellent and the animation was pure eye candy; true to Pixar’s brilliant work. The visuals mixed with a great story really paid off, the story surrounding Brave was more of a mother-daughter adventure and Pixar nailed this message. Pixar’s ability to show Merida and Elinor as they battle through their differences and find their harmony is great and they do it with a one-two punch of quirky comedy. Brave is not perfect by any means, but it is one of the best fairy tales in a long time and certainly fitting for our times. Pixar wanted a character that they could portray girl power and they got it.
Brave arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode framed at 2.40:1. What else can we say about Pixar’s quality? You would think this is a broken record by now. Thankfully it is not and Brave simply looks phenomenal. The picture is clean and pristine right from the get go. The palette is filled with bright and vivid colors. Black levels are excellent and never overwhelm the image. Detailing is exceptional, at every turn there is a high level of details from the robes to the wilderness, and everything just simply looks stunning. There are no signs of video anomalies. Visually Brave looks stunning.
The 3D version is a mirror of the 2D version featuring a fantastic image. The 3D effects are applied in various scenes giving it a nice wow factor; however, I did feel they could be better. Objects featured great depth in between them. The movie utilized the effects properly and never did I felt they were forced in the movie just for the cheap thrills. The image doesn’t feature ghosting or any other anomaly. Again the 3D version is just as excellent as the 2D, if you have a 3D set then I’d suggest watching it in 3D.
Brave arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 and a Dolby TrueHD Master Audio lossless track. Both tracks are very impressive from beginning to end. The dialogue is clean and clear throughout and even when the action intensifies nothing gets lost in the mix. The fronts feature excellent directionality. The rears are very active and often used for ambient effects. The music flows freely through the very spacious mix. The track does a good job at creating a full 360 degree soundstage. The film really takes full advantage of the track. Brave just simply sounds fantastic.
Audio Commentary – This commentary track features Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Nick Smith, and Brian Larsen. The track is enjoyable and entertaining. They share plenty of information regarding the movie. The rack never becomes slow since the participants are always engaged discussing different aspects of production.
Brave Old World – This featurettes shows how the filmmakers searched and prepared for Brave by traveling and going into the Scottish culture.
Merida & Elinor – Just like the title says the featurette is about the two main characters in the film and their love/hate relationship.
Bears – See how animators put together the bears in the film.
Brawl in the Hall – Get a behind the scenes glimpse into the development of the fight sequences in the movie.
Wonder Moss – See how Pixar animators create moss in the movie.
Magic – Viewers get a chance to learn where the filmmakers got their inspirations to incorporate magic into the film.
Clan Pixar – See the crazy and quirky activities that Pixar employees in between production.
Once Upon A Scene – See all the different sequences that were left out of the final cut of the film.
Fallen Warriors Montage – See how much work really goes into the smallest bits of the film.
Dirty Hairy People – See how the filmmakers tried to incorporate the personal hygiene of the period into the film.
It is English….Sort Of – This is a behind the scenes look at the people behind the voices of Brave.
Angus – See how the animators try to put together the horse Angus.
Promotional Pieces – Viewers get to see a set of 5 Brave promos from different parts of the world.
La Luna Short Film
The Legend of Mor’du Short Film
Fergus & Mor’du Alternate Ending
Brave is far from being your typical princess fairy tale, if anything it sets out to prove that everyone has the ability to change their destiny. Merida’s adventures has definitely raised the bar as far as fairy tales go and perhaps it will be a while before we see another one like Brave. The Blu-ray release looks and sounds phenomenal, there simply are no complaints. The 3D is filled with plenty of extras and includes a 2D version of the film, so it’s definitely the better value. Brave is highly recommended!