Brave (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy)

Blu-ray Review

Brave

Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell (co-director)
Cast: (voices of) Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins
Rating: PG
Due Out: November 13, 2012

PLOT: A headstrong princess (Macdonald) with a knack for archery defies her parents by running away instead of marrying one of three potential suitors. She comes upon a witch (Walters) who gives her one spell, but the results are worse than expected when she uses it on her mother (Thompson).

WHO’S IT FOR? Fans of both Pixar and Disney princesses are likely to see this no matter what, but expectations should be tempered. While there are flashes of greatness peppered throughout – and the animation is stunning – Brave doesn’t reach the bar Pixar has set for itself.

MOVIE:

The good news is that Brave is nowhere near as big a blight on Pixar’s record as last year’s Cars 2. It isn’t a horrible film by any means, though it still hurts to say it’s one of my bigger disappointments of 2012. I was very excited about Pixar’s first female-centric adventure. Unfortunately, Merida is a petulant girl who isn’t all that likable. Even weaker – and extremely disappointing considering Pixar’s track record – is the plot. There are flashes of greatness scattered throughout, but too much of it is the type of standard princess fare that I hoped Pixar would rise above.

One place the film doesn’t fall short, however, is in the visuals. The landscapes are beautifully animated, but the most impressive thing is Merida’s hair. Seriously, I could not stop marveling at the detail the animators achieved. Each loose strand and every curl stands out. While it deserves to be heaped with praise, it speaks to the weakness of the storytelling that Merida’s fiery red hair is what most captivated me.

Even with the majority of the story being uninspired, there are a few interesting beats. The spell Merida gets from the witch leads to a twist that initially is a bit off-putting, but eventually settles into a groove that takes the film up a level. This is where the mother-daughter relationship gets some room to grow – there is a gorgeous fishing sequence that is among my favorites of the year – and I wish we got more scenes like this. Instead it rushes past to an ending that doesn’t feel earned. If only less time had been spent on the exceedingly rote marriage storyline (this does at least give us a fantastic display of Merida’s archery skills, so it isn’t totally useless). Or maybe we could have had less of her three brothers. Every time they appeared on screen I became instantly annoyed, though younger audiences will likely be amused by the escapades of Hamish, Hubert, and Harris.

So we’re left with a technically stunning film – in addition to the visuals, Patrick Doyle’s Celtic score and a few enjoyable original songs deserve praise as well – that is let down in the storytelling department. Despite a couple less than stellar offerings I have faith in Pixar – the lovely Oscar-nominated short film La Luna that is included in this set proves they can still achieve greatness. There are a handful of things to like – even love – about Brave, but hopefully Pixar’s next entries return to the highs of films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille.

MOVIE SCORE: 6/10

EXTRAS

Blu-ray Disc 1 Includes:

La Luna Theatrical Short
The Legend of Mor’du Short
Brave Old World
Merida & Elinor
Bears
Brawl in the Hall
Wonder Moss
Magic
Clan Pixar
Once Upon a Scene
Extended Scenes
Director Commentary

Blu-Ray Disc 2 Includes:

“Fergus & Mor’du” An Alternate Opening
Fallen Warriors Montage
Dirty Hairy People
It is English…Sort Of
Angus
The Tapestry
Promotional Pieces
Art Gallery
Wee Gaffes
Renaissance Animation Man
Teasers and Sneak Peeks

Blu-Ray 3D Disc Includes:

La Luna Theatrical Short

DVD Includes:

La Luna Theatrical Short
The Legend of Mor’du All-New Short
Director Commentary

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