Brave
2012 Running time: 107 Certificate: pg Rating: 4
Brave-KA

Synopsis

Pixar heads to the Scottish Highlands for this engaging, Oscar-winning tale about Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), a feisty warrior princess who rebels against her parents' plans for an arranged marriage. After consulting a witch for help, her family becomes cursed and the desperate Merida is forced to undo the spell herself before it is too late. Sumptuous visuals, cheeky comedy and strong storytelling distinguish a rousing yarn that marks Pixar's first foray into fairytale.

Directors

  • Mark Andrews

  • Brenda Chapman

Cast

  • Kelly McDonald

  • Emma Thompson

  • Billy Connolly

  • Julie Walters

Review

Fiery-tressed Scottish warrior princess Merida is nae havin' any truck with her parents' assertion that she takes the hand in marriage of one of the dubious sons of the local clan chiefs.

More a marriage of political convenience than a genuine bonding of the heart, Merida rejects their wish-washy shows of strength on the archery field and splinters their puny shots - and hopes - with a perfectly despatched arrow.

Seeking to permanently remove the threat of enforced matrimony, she heads off into the forest where she purchases a spell off a woodcarver-cum-witch, an incantation that has the undesired effect of turning her mother Queen Elinor (Thompson) into a bear.

Unfortunately, it's a bear that resembles the dreaded Mor'du, a giant beast that chewed the leg off Merida's father, hulking King Fergus of Clan DunBroch (Billy Connolly), leaving him with a wooden peg.

Merida finds her undutiful daughter role reversed as she seeks to protect her mum from her bear-hating dad and heads back into the forest to find the witch and get the spell undone.

We've got director Brenda Chapman to thank for Pixar's first full-blooded female heroine (even if her flaming curls do disconcertingly give her the look of former newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks) in a story that could have come from the pages of Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen.

Chapman and her controversial replacement writer Mark Andrews eschew Pixar's traditional tack of super-serving mums and dads with adult themes and give the kids exactly what they want - even if its bare-bottomed clan chiefs knotting their kilts together in a cheeky escape wheeze.

The studio's decison to completely rewrite its 25-year-old animation software pays gorgeous dividends, with the Scottish Highlands - from lofty snow-capped peaks to ancient woods and lochs - gorgeously rendered.

It may be the most "Disney" of Pixar's efforts but it's a rousing tale, imbued with a fresh maturity - a brave new world.

Tim Evans

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