Brave is another stunningly beautiful film by Pixar, showcasing a world of legends in such a way that it becomes instantly engrossing.
Merida is a feisty young Scottish Princess, born to King Fergus and Queen Elinor, who is first shown the birthday where she received her first bow. Instantly besotted with the weapon, the young princess heads off into the nearby woodland to set about practising, whilst there she encounters her first Will-o'-Wisp, a legendary ghost creature who leads people to their fate. When she returns to her parents, the demon bear creature that plagues the nearby lands attacks the group. Fleeing with her mother, the King, along with soldiers holds off the animal - thus resulting in a legendary clash and the loss of his leg.
Picking up many years later, Merida is a now a rebellious royal fed up with her mother's tutorage in the princess way. Having triplet brothers who can do nothing wrong, she believes her life to be unfair. When it is broken to her about the betrothal she must accept - through a contest of the three other clans first born sons - Merida plans a way to not let it happen. Entering the tournament for her own hand in marriage, she breaks tradition and embarrasses her mother whilst risking a civil war between the clans. Resulting in a heated argument with her mother, her patience breaks and Merida flees the castle and the bonds the building holds. Stumbling upon another Will-o'-Wisp Merida decides to follow their luminescent trail in hopes of changing her fate - the theme most consistent in this feature - forever. When the trail ends she finds herself at the shack of a witch/woodcarver who she begs to give her a spell. Reluctantly agreeing, the witch hands Merida a cake with instructions on feeding it to her mother. Once the Queen consumes the spell she transforms into a colossal black bear. Finding out that unless her broken bond with her mother is fixed, the result will be permanent, Merida sets out a way in doing so. Whilst they undertake this very personal adventure, new light is given to the past life of the demon bear and the legacy that he shares with the three clans as well as the reason behind her mother's importance. Climaxing with an exhilarating bear fight - perhaps Pixar's most impressive scene - 'Brave' marks a princess themed narrative that has been altered and adapted, so as to feel more relevant and modern in presentation. Much like the Disney produced 'Tangled', these changes allows the film to cater for all ages and genders, a fun and entertaining story presented perfectly.
Although many aspects that are fondly found within previous Pixar films are not featured so heavily in this film, 'Brave' is an animated film that does many things correctly. It is a stunningly beautiful animation that showcases the long running experience that the staff have received through the work they have put into their own films. Character models are the best designed yet, with likenesses to humans the best they have ever been - hair has never looked better in an animated film. The environment is equally as strong in presentation, with the Scottish wilderness being created in such a way that the whole feeling is mythical and very much in keeping with the setting. Watching this film easily captivates the feeling of the environment, transporting audiences into the world of the narrative easily. Through the hard work of the design department, the creative world is easily alive with characters being able to feel realistic, resulting in an engrossing narrative throughout. Utilizing the lighting techniques - first used properly in 'Ratatouille'- 'Brave' really is a well created, realistic and enjoyable animated feature. The most un-Pixar film, yes, but also the best created and easy to watch film yet.
Like many Pixar movies, the voice actors that feature are spot on in this film. Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson and Billy Connolly each bring the correct characteristics to their roles. Filling their individual roles perfectly throughout the duration of this feature they bring life to the story. Julie Walters is not necessarily the most recognisable in the role of the witch. Due to this unrecognisable voice work from a British talent, it is a shame to see her character not given the correct amount of screen time to fully understand her motives. Although it was paramount to the movies pacing, this conscious decision to only seldom feature her character, means that once she features once she never reappears again. This is a shame when compared to other smaller Pixar roles that are given the correct depth that they need.
'Brave' is another strong production from this highly renowned company. More Disney-fied than their previous work, this factor should not be seen as an issue due largely to the high production values that have been incorporated into the picture. 'Brave' easily immerses audiences into the Scottish setting through stunning animation and development on the many varied environments that feature. Altering the princess narrative into a more modern, more Pixar styling means that this film does feel slightly different to those who have been produced by the parent company. 'Brave' is once again ups the standard expected from this type of film, showcasing the studios extreme quality in both animation and developing high standard narratives. With the first female protagonist of this company, girls will find an instant affinity to the narrative, with more than enough content that is strong, however, boys should also find enough included to become engrossed in the developments of the characters.