Genre: Animation | Action | Adventure
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Writer: Story by Brenda Chapman, Screenplay by Mark Andrews & Steve Purcell and Brenda Chapman & Irene Mecchi
Voice Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson
Run Time: 95 minutes plus bonus features
An original and thrilling journey set in the ancient and magical Highlands of Scotland, Brave follows the heroic journey of the headstrong, young adventurer Merida. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida confronts tradition and defies an age-old custom that inadvertently unleashes chaos, and forces her to discover the true meaning of bravery.
Gorgeous, fun, gorgeous, charming, gorgeous, funny, gorgeous, too scary for young ones (according to a friend who took her nine-year-old to it in the theaters), and gorgeous. The story was created for the movie, and has the somewhat familiar feisty girl theme but has a nice twist of mother/daughter conflict that isn’t quite the standard Disney fare. There’s enough action to keep things moving along nicely, including excellent brawls, great sword fighting, and of course terrific archery, and it’s never overly treacly. It’s a good solid story and a fun watch.
But more than anything else, this is an absolutely gorgeous movie. Pixar movies are always a visual treat, but this one is, for me, above and beyond their usual level of excellence, in two particular areas, the main one being the landscape. And I’m not saying that just because of my Scottish heritage, although that doesn’t hurt. As one of the included featurettes attests, the artists went to Scotland to experience the landscape firsthand, and they have captured it vividly here. I am ready to book my trip right now.
But what was equally visually mesmerizing was that red hair. It is stunning to the point of distraction. Another included featurette discusses the development of that tangle of curls, but nothing does it justice like simply looking at it, and watching it move. It is its own character. Seriously, I would watch a series of stories starring that hair.
The sound of the movie is also particularly special, and by that I mean that they used actual Britons, and in fact mostly actual Scottish people, to do the voice work. THANK YOU, PIXAR. Featuring the voices of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connelly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, and Craig Ferguson, listening to this movie is a delight. Likewise the soundtrack is lovely, seemingly Celtic, and the requisite songs are thankfully free from the whiny-ness that often drags these productions down.
Now on to the list of everything that’s included in the Blu-ray Combo Pack of Brave, notes on quality and my overall star rating.
Bonus Material (Ultimate Collector’s Edition: 5-Disc Combo Pack) (BD 3D + BD Feature + BD Supplemental Material + DVD + Digital Copy)
Blu-ray Disc 1 includes:
- “La Luna” Theatrical Short – The short that accompanied the film in theatres. It is magical, and worthy of purchasing separately, so it’s great to have it included. The story is of a young boy on his first night working the family business alongside his father and grandfather. Entirely unrelated to the feature, it is one of the few bonus offerings that can be watched without spoiling the feature.
- “The Legend of Mor’du” Short – This is a bonus short film that presents the legend referenced in the feature, and is presented by the witch we meet in the feature. A big ol’ giant spoiler if you haven’t seen the movie before, but fun and somewhat helpful to watch after.
- Brave Old World – This is the featurette I mentioned above, that follows members of the “Brave” production team as they investigate Scotland, exploring its land, culture, people and dialects, providing the visual and aural basis upon which the movie relies.
- Merida & Elinor
- Brawl in the Hall
- Wonder Moss
- Clan Pixar – At Pixar, getting into character is a team effort. From making Haggis to Kilt Fridays to celebrating the Scottish poet Robert Burns, fans will see how the “Brave” production crew truly embraced Scottish themes and customs fueled the Pixar crew throughout the creation of “Brave.”
- Once Upon A Scene – A closer look at the evolution of the storylines throughout the production of the film, including alternative openings to the film and many deleted scenes.
- Extended Scenes – Three separate scenes are highlighted in their extended form. Director Mark Andrews discusses the decision making process that led to the shortened versions of these scenes.
- Director Commentary – Actually it’s commentary by not only director Mark Andrews but co-director Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen, and editor Nick Smith, and is really interesting for behind-the-scenes junkies and/or people interested in the creation of animated movies and how they differ from live action.
Blu-ray Disc 2 includes:
- “Fergus & Mor’du” An Alternate Opening – Once upon a time, “Brave” had a different opening scene. Eventually cut from the film, fans can see it in its entirety in this bonus feature narrated by the film’s director Mark Andrews.
- Fallen Warriors Montage – A selection of deleted shots that were cut from the film late in production are presented to fans in various stages of completion through a video montage narrated by director Mark Andrews.
- Dirty Hairy People – It’s set in medieval Scotland, so nobody currently alive is meant to be offended.
- It is English…Sort Of – This is a quote, again not meant to offend.
- Angus – Merida’s horse.
- The Tapestry – Really interesting look at the creation of the tapestry that plays a part in the story
- Promotional Pieces – This bonus includes promotional clips for “Brave,” including: “Feast Yer Eyes,” “Relics,” “Clan DunBroch,” “Launch,” and more. They are charming, and sometimes hilarious. Definitely a fun watch
- Art Gallery – A selection of breathtaking art from the creation of the film, showcasing characters, sets, scenes and stunning landscapes. Truly impressive collection of art from the movie, including a variety of interpretations of the main character.
- Wee Gaffes – A video montage of simulation, animation and shot bloopers.
- Renaissance Animation Man – Get a look at Director Mark Andrews’ love of Scotland, sword-fighting, music and more!
- Teasers and Sneak Peeks
Blu-ray 3D Disc Includes:
- “La Luna” Theatrical Short
- “La Luna” Theatrical Short
- “The Legend of Mordu” All-New Short
- Director Commentary
Also available are a Collector’s Edition 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (BD Feature + BD Supplemental Material + DVD) and a 1-Disc DVD. Your choice depends upon your personal preference and the equipment you own. If there’s a chance of scoring a 3D TV for the holidays, the 5-disc pack is lovely, and includes the digital copy. Although I was lucky enough to receive the Ultimate Collector’s Edition 5-Disc Combo Pack, I am not currently lucky enough to have a 3D TV. Yet. I did, however, see the movie in the theater in 3D and found the effects atmospheric and never overwhelming or overpowering, so if you are one of those lucky 3D TV owners, get this pack.
If you have a Blu-ray player and are on the fence about whether to spring for the Blu-ray or just get the DVD, get the Blu-ray. The BD supplemental materials disc features really are great, and Pixar feature films really shine on Blu-ray.
Did I mention that this movie is gorgeous? I expect that this is one of those movies that I will toss on just to have playing while I’m doing other things, just to catch periodic scenes and sounds, because they are captivating. That’s after I’ve watched it a few more times, because the movie really is a delight.
I give the Brave Ultimate Collector’s Edition 5-Disc Combo Pack Five Out of Five Stars.
Brave Ultimate Collector’s Edition 5-Disc Combo Pack is available now from Amazon, and if you time it right, may feature a special price once you click on the link below:
Set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland, Disney Pixar's Brave follows the heroic journey of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to change her fate, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane), unleashing chaos in the kingdom. When she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters), she is granted an ill-fated wish and the ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her resources including her mischievous triplet brothers to undo a beastly curse and discover the meaning of true bravery.