Brave is Pixar's newest film to theatres and besides being written and directed by Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell, it is quite unique in that Pixar actually rewrote their animation software for the first time in 25 years and to top it off it is also the first film to ever use Dolby Atmos sound format.
So Brave is set roughly in the 10th Century in the highlands of Scotland. It follows a young Scottish princess by the name of Merida who would much rather shoot a bow and ride her horse Angus than play with a needle and a thread or dance. Her father King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connolly btw) appears secretly proud of his daughters tomboy-ish ways but stands behind his wife, Queen Elinor, in her idea of Merida being a proper princess.
The film centres around Merida needing to wed one of the three sons of Scotland's clan chiefs, to stabilize the realm and to keep their kingdom united. Of course Merida hates the idea of having to marry anyone at all, especially someone she does not know or love. Her actions to avoid being married off of course lead to some very sticky situations which of course involves demonic bears, witches, spells/curses, will o' the wisps, her trusty horse and of course, archery.
Brave is such a beautiful movie, both story and animation wise. You can instantly tell that the animation system has been upgraded just by the look of Merida herself. Her lively red curls which at first seemed a little off to me, literally take a life of their own in some of the film's shots. Pixar definitely impressed me with the animation.
Pixar definitely ran wild with Scotland as the location in Brave. All of the scenery, from the Castle, rolling moors, dark forests, and stonehenge-like architecture just looked authentic and gorgeous. The music used in the film definitely backed up the setting nicely, with celtic-infused drums, pipes and fiddles that manage to maintain a distinctive Scottish feel without overwhelming the film but remaining in the background.
There are also some pretty hilarious moments in the movie, in particular when Merida's potential suitors and their clans arrive to compete for her hand in marriage. It's full of satirized empty male bravado and competitiveness and often Queen Elinor has to restore order amongst squabbling men. Merida's younger brothers who do not speak a word in the film also offer a fantastically funny, silent visual comedy to the film.
While the themes in the film aren't exactly innovative (a princess who doesn't want to live up to the expectations her society places on her) and there are some characters that are more stereotypical than in other Pixar films, these are just a couple of minor notes that, at the end of the day are barely noticed compared to the originality of a highland mother-daughter story.
All in all, Brave is a fantastic movie that is well-made, entertaining and just down right beautiful in both its style and story. Brave will definitely have you appreciating your family (and your bagpipes) more than you already do. It's a real treat.