Brave Blu-ray Review, a movie directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, co-directed by Steve Purcell and starring Emma Thompson, Kelly Macdonald, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and John Ratzenberger.
Release date: November 13, 2012
2012 is the year of the female archer protagonist and Brave is Pixar’s latest entry into the fairytale realm with a modern telling of a princess heroine set in 10th century Scotland. Merida (Kelly MacDonald), a headstrong teenaged princess, is slated to be married off to a chieftan’s son from a neighboring clan whom she doesn’t love. The fiery-tressed Merida would rather ride through the forest and practice her archery than willingly conform to the carefully proscribed box her parents have designated. In a departure from the usual Disney formula of missing or deceased parents, Merida’s parents King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) are very much present in her life and interact in a refreshing nuclear unit along with her triplet brothers Hamish, Hubert, and Harris. Merida constantly butts heads with her loving mother and their bond is central to this story.
Unlike Merida’s laid back father, Queen Elinor finds Merida’s tomboyish pastimes unseemly for a future Queen. Elinor is an active participant in co-governing her clan with her husband; she raises Merida to represent her people and fight for their way of life. Still, she feels her daughter should engage in “proper” pursuits and marry as expected. In defiance of her parents’ desire for a suitable marriage, Merida disappears into the forest and follows will-o’-the-wisps to a witch (Julie Walters)’s house. She requests a spell to change her mother—a spell with unintended consequences.
Merida’s rebellion might call to mind Disney classics like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, but Brave brings something more: the spell-gone-awry endangers the kingdom, brings an interesting twist to the essential mother-daughter bond, and propels the plot deeper; it makes the film much more satisfying for parents watching with their children. As the title suggests, the theme of bravery is interwoven throughout the movie, as are the motifs of courage, love, and family. While the growing pains may ring sentimental for adult viewers, the lack of strong supporting characters or a humorous sidekick is a weakness for the storyline. The story falters slightly on the tail end and the buildup to the ending is not as strong as I would have liked, but the movie is still a tear-jerker and will inspire many a girl—and boy—to follow their dreams while still respecting the wisdom of their parents.
Brave is filmed in 1080P/MPEG-4 AVC encode with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The scenes are gorgeously illustrated in mossy greens and earth tones, making Merida’s fiery red-orange tresses blaze on the imagined Scottish landscape. Similarly, blues and misty whites also pop against the inky black coloring of the night scenes in the forest. The detail is magnificent down to the fibers in the tapestry and the individual strands and curls of Merida’s trademark mane. Blades of grass, whiskered jaws, tattered kilt hems, freckled faces, and blemishes in armor are all rendered with jaw-dropping precision. I noted absolutely no noise or banding throughout the movie.
The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround track is one of the best this year. Every sound from the leaves crunching beneath feet to the wind whistling through the trees is clear and crisp in this near lossless mix. The rear speakers create an engaging soundfield. Forest and battle scenes exhibit impeccable directionality: pans are smooth and effects bounce around the room with precision. The roar of the bears will send shivers down your spine while Patrick Doyle’s sweeping Celtic score effectively conjures the highlands of Scotland. Emma Thompson who voices Queen Elinor sings the lullaby “A Mhaighdean Bhan Uasal” so sweetly you will be tempted to relax into your sofa. The Scottish drinking song, “Song of Mor’du,” recurs throughout the film. Scot Julie Fowlis’ “Touch the Sky” and “Into the Open Air” and Birdy’s “Learn Me Right” are also musical standouts.
Blu-ray Bonus Content
La Luna this Oscar-nominated short film written and directed by Enrique Casarosa screened ahead of Brave in theaters.
The Legend of Mor’du the witch from Brave tells the story of the Demon Bear Mor’du and why she transformed him.
Promotional Pieces (HD, 14 minutes)
“Feast Your Eyes Montage: Wee Bits of Animation,” “Relics,” “Clan du Broch,” “Launch,” and “Flying Guts Theater,” including trailers from the UK, US, and Japan.
Fergus & Mor’du: An Alternate Opening (HD, 3 minutes)
Alone in the snow-covered forest, King Fergus loses his leg to the Demon Bear Mor’du.
Fallen Warriors (HD, 2 minutes)
Snippets from the film that were not cut until the final edit.
Dirty Hairy People (HD, 4 minutes)
A homage to Scots with an examination of the dirt, hair, grime, poor dental hygiene, and ratty clothing of 10th century Scotland.
It’s English…Sort Of (HD, 4 minutes)
Angus (HD, 3 minutes)
Animating Angus, Merida’s horse.
The Tapestry (HD, 4 minutes)
Merida’s family tapestry and its role in mending the relationship between her and Queen Elinor.
Art Galleries (HD)
“Characters,” “Color Keys,” “Development Art,” “Environments,” and “Graphics.”
Where you can purchase this Blu-ray
You can purchase Brave on Blu-ray here: