Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Video review: "Brave"

Given the state of most entertainment geared towards kids these days -- take "Hotel Transylvania," please -- "Brave" stands head and shoulders above the rest. It's an energetic, engaging story of a Scottish princess who throws off the yoke of traditional expectations.

I especially give it points for having the girl not wait around for some derring-do dude come save her, but taking matters into her own able hands.

But the fact that it comes from the Pixar Animation studio means that, fairly or not, it's automatically held to a loftier standard. Put against gems like "Finding Nemo" or "Up" or "Wall·E," this movie has a tang of disappointment.

Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is the daughter of the king and queen (Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson), who have spent their whole lives preparing her to be married off to some prince for the good of the kingdom. But she'd rather shoot arrows and ride horses than play the maid-in-waiting.

The land has been plagued by a "demon bear" who ripped off the king's leg when Merida was a girl, and when she makes a rash choice involving a local enchantress, the curse is brought home in terrible ways.
Visually the film is a wonder, full of splashy colors and gorgeous details that just pop off the screen. The red of Merida's curly hair and the bear's bristly fur are sights to behold.

I still recommend "Brave." It's a well-crafted piece of family entertainment. It's just that on the tall totem pole of Pixar's animated legacy, it comes in at the bottom.

"Brave" comes only in a Blu-ray/DVD combo, either the standard 3-disc version or the 5-disc "Ultimate Collector's Edition" that includes a 3-D version of the film.

Both editions are nicely stocked with extras, including a pair of animated shorts and a host of making-of featurettes, extended and deleted scenes, director commentary, an alternate opening, art gallery, animation bloopers and more.

Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars

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