Review: ‘Brave’

This review contains NO spoilers.

Brave takes place in long ago Scotland. King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) present their daughter Merida’s (Kelly Macdonald) hand in marriage to the first born son of each of the three clan kings (Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, and Craig Ferguson). As per tradition, they will compete in games to win her hand. Headstrong Merida, however, has other plans. She is a carefree girl who enjoys archery and riding her horse Angus and doesn’t want to get married quite yet, and certainly not to someone she didn’t choose herself.

Despite her protest, the games commence and are brought to a halt when Merida decides to “win her own hand.” This leads to clashes between Merida and her mother and between all four clans, threatening  a war. When Merida escapes into the forest she makes some dangerous decisions in attempt to change her fate but must be brave enough to put everything back together again.

One of the reasons the above plot summary is so short is that the trailer, while seemingly giving a lot away, actually keeps many of the important plot lines a secret. They story takes some surprising, but enjoyable, twists, which I think is refreshing in today’s environment of trailers telling the whole story.

This movie went beyond my expectations. It was truly magical. The animation was Pixar’s best to date  and the scenery was stunning. The Scottish setting was very realistic and true but not so much where non-Scots couldn’t relate. I wanted nothing more than to jump into the screen and explore the coats, forests, and castles presented in the movie. The music was also perfect. It wasn’t a musical, but it did have a beautiful song and a great score. Brave was more similar to Disney’s works than Pixar’s in storytelling; but, in animation, it was all Pixar.

The characters were all fantastic as well. Merida is a down-to-earth, relatable princess. Yes she’s “tomboyish” but not is a typical, stereotypical way…she’s still very much a girl. King Fergus is funny but not overdone and Queen Elinor is actually quite layered. The three baby brothers were the best part; they created some of the funniest parts of the movie. The whole dynamic between the family was truly the heart and soul of the film and it worked.

Brave had a great storyline that included lessons on finding your own path in life and dealing with family that were presented as applicable to our own lives but without coming across preachy. It was a unique and intriguing story presented with likable characters. You’ll laugh, you’ll tear up a bit, and you’ll leave with a warm feeling in your heart. And last but not least, the short film La Luna that plays in front of the movie was both adorable and beautiful. All in all, Pixar does it again!