Pixar’s first heroine has been greatly anticipated for a long time, and she has finally arrived in “Brave”—a heartwarming, fable-like tale about courage and pride.
Sassy and as bold as her bright red hair, Scottish princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) loves adventure, archery, and freedom. When she is told by her parents, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) and King Fergus (Billy Connolly), that she will soon be married off to a son of one of the kingdom’s lords, Merida storms out of the castle and attempts to search for her own fate.
Marriage is the last thing on Merida’s mind, even though her mother has been training her to be queen her entire life.
Things start getting interesting when she crosses paths with a suspicious old woodcarver who claims she can help Merida get her wish that her mother “will change.”
“Brave” directors Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman creatively insert plot twists that are sure to entertain and surprise the audience. This storyline is tightly wrapped around the mother-daughter relationship of Merida and the queen, sharing a few reminiscent qualities with “Tangled.”
The stunning animations done by Pixar studios beautifully portray Scotland’s terrain and bring its people and history to life.
Merida is an immensely fierce and strong character. Her character is complex enough to be appreciated by an older audience but stubborn enough to appeal to younger audience members, who may likely relate to her “That’s so unfair!” arguments with her mother.
Macdonald provides the perfect accent and energy as Merida’s voice. The entire vocal ensemble is very fitting, including Thompson as the mother struggling to break through the communication barrier between her and her daughter, and Connolly playing the easy-going parent.
Merida’s three younger, mischievous brothers don’t share much of a vocal presence, but their little gags and tricks provide great laughs from beginning to end.
The Scottish authenticity of the animations is breathtaking, and even the cultural jokes are done tastefully. The strong sense of community among the characters and their connection to their Scottish roots is very prominent.
Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, John Ratzenberger
Running Time: 100 minutes
One thing that really stands out about “Brave” is the musical score written by Patrick Doyle. He captures the essence of Scottish heritage music and still keeps it fresh for modern-day audiences.
A host of excellent qualities can be found in “Brave”—the action, the humor, the characters, the story, and the morality. This fantastic animated picture moves at a quick and steady pace, and it nails the humor without sacrificing the emotion and lessons about pride and family.“Brave” can easily outshine any other animation feature for originality and heart, but may seem slightly underwhelming only when measured by the audience’s expectations of Pixar and alongside previous classics such as “Toy Story” and “Ratatouille.”