While "Brave"'s story didn't always quite engage my attention fully, the film's visuals certainly did. While Pixar's recent films have seen the technology of digital animation improve, it's gotten to the point where it's remarkable that there is still more improvements to be squeezed out of the complex computer systems used. Aspects of the film, such as the main character's curly red hair, water, grass and other details - are starting to look awfully close to real.
The story didn't always engage me, but stretches of it work well, in part due to solid voice work from the cast. The animated feature focuses on red-headed Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), who is watched over by her father (Billy Connolly) and mother (Emma Thompson). King Fergus (Connolly) lets the girl free to do largely as she pleases, leaving mother Elinor (Thompson) to be the bad cop.
Upset by her mother's latest demands, Merida runs into the woods and a bunch of fairy-like creatures lead her to a little witch. Out of anger, she makes a deal with the witch to change her mother - which results in Elinor changing into a bear (which isn't exactly what Merida expected.)
Merida then spends much of the remainder trying to save her mother, which proves difficult as the witch is now nowhere to be found. There's a key issue with the picture: how does one make Merida at least somewhat likable? The character is really sort of a troublemaker and while McDonald offers a spunky,lively vocal performance, the character's turn towards trying to redeem herself a bit never quite works, although the movie's ending is otherwise touching and rather sweet.
The Ultimate Collector's Edition offers a 3-D Blu-Ray Edition (requires 3-D TV), Blu-Ray, DVD copy, Digital Copy and a Blu-Ray Bonus disc.
Overall, "Brave" offers some moments of effective drama and a handful of solid laughs. The voice performances are also bold and energetic. The story could use a bit of work and doesn't have quite the same level of inspiration as prior Pixar efforts, but at 95 minutes, the picture moves rather briskly.
VIDEO: The Blu-Ray's 2.35:1 (1080p) presentation from Disney is a visual delight, with exceptional detail and first-rate clarity. No edge enhancement, pixelation or other concerns were seen. Colors appeared beautiful, bright and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults. This was a highly pleasing presentation that could be used as a demo for the format.
SOUND: The film is presented on Blu-Ray in Dolby TrueHD 7.1. The film's sound design is done by legendary sound designer Gary Rydstrom, and the mix is both lively and tremendously detailed, enveloping the viewer in the midst of both indoor and outdoor environments. Surrounds offer up crisply recorded effects and clear, smaller details. Music sounded rich and full, while dialogue sounded well-recorded.
EXTRAS: Director Mark Andrews, story supervisor Brian Larsen,co-director Steve Purcell and editor Nick Smith. The commentary is terrific, offering up a good deal of facts regarding the production process, characters and the story. I thought the movie was a bit uneven, but the commentary for it was quite insightful and entertaining.
We also get two shorts - "La Luna", a highly entertaining film that appeared with "Brave" theatrically and "The Legend of Mor’du". We also get nearly a dozen short featurettes running a few-to-several minutes each, covering various aspects of the production - animation, characters, story and more. Finally, we get extended scenes, promotional pieces and an art gallery.
Final Thoughts: Overall, "Brave" offers some moments of effective drama and a handful of solid laughs. The voice performances are also bold and energetic. The story could use a bit of work and doesn't have quite the same level of inspiration as prior Pixar efforts, but at 95 minutes, the picture moves rather briskly.
The Film B-