Review by Michael Jacobson
Voices: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters
Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.39:1
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: November 13, 2012
“If you had a chance to change your fate…would you?”
It’s old news that never gets old…when Disney and Pixar team up, you know you’re in for something spectacular. And just when you think, that’s it, they’ll never be able to top this achievement, they surprise and delight you just that much further the next time.
Truth be told, Brave might be one of the team’s weaker offerings in terms of overall storytelling, but believe me when I say, they MORE than make up for any imagined shortcomings by creating a stunning, beautifully rendered world that you might find yourself happily lost in for 90 minutes, and not wanting to leave it afterwards.
It tells the story of a young Scottish princess named Merida (Macdonald), with fiery red hair and a personality to match. Her mother Elinor (Thompson), the queen, has high hopes for her in her inevitable path to the throne…mainly, to make her a proper young lady and an elegant queen. But Merida is more like her father Fergus (Connolly). She’d rather hunt, ride, and be free from the bindings of royal tradition.
It all comes to a head when, by pact, Merida reaches the age where she has to choose a husband from the sons of leaders of neighboring districts. Far from ready, and feeling her mother is unwilling to let her be who she is, she runs away into the woods. There, a string of magical will o’ the wisps lead her to a strange but delightfully funny woodcarving witch (Walters).
The witch offers her a spell that will help Merida change her mother…need I even say that the results are not what she expected? Poor Elinor is turned into a full-fledged bear…exactly the kind that her husband lost a leg to once upon a time, and the kind he has been hunting ever since.
In a race against time to ensure that her mother doesn’t remain ursine for eternity, Merida and Elinor both learn lessons about being true to themselves, and the wonderful, magical bonds of family, and how much they can’t live without it, even if it sometimes drives them crazy.
The story really is that simply sketched, but again, the wonder of the movie is not in the writing, but in its breathtaking visual flair. The fairy tale world of old Scotland is as vivid as I’ve ever seen in a computer animated movie…it seriously makes Avatar look like something hacked out on a Commodore 64. The lush landscapes, beautifully lit, are incredibly real and absorbing. Not to mention, this is one of the finest 3D presentations I’ve yet seen on home video.
The characters are not deep, but are wonderfully human, and the voice casting is impeccable. They more than ingest them and the story with enough humor and heart to keep your emotions as involved as your eyes and ears. Brave has style, flair, and fun, and definitely ranks as a masterpiece for Disney and Pixar.
I can’t speak enough superlatives about this disc, friends. This is spectacular…in fact, it may be hard to beat in this department. I mentioned the vividness of the world created here, and when you succumb to the magical perfection of the beautiful colors, crisp, amazing detail, and the glory of absolute 3D perfection, you will seriously be in for an experience you never want to end. It doesn’t get better than this.
The TrueHD 7.1 audio definitely makes a case for itself against the superb high definition transfer. Dynamic, clear, and powerful in the relentless creation of an immersive surround experience, this track serves as a reminder of how good fully fabricated audio tracks can be. Especially with no audio compression.
The extras are plentiful, and spread out over a FIVE disc set. The first disc contains the 3D version of the film, and a couple of nice 3D trailers for upcoming releases, as well.
The remainder are spread over the 2D Blu-ray disc and a Blu-ray of bonuses. They include audio commentary from the filmmakers, extended scenes, an alternate opening, a gallery of art, two new animated short films, trailers, and a plethora of small featurettes that take you further into the making of this incredible film.
There is also a digital commentary and a DVD version of the disc.
This is truly a landmark in the blossoming field of Blu-ray. Brave is a sheer delight from start to finish, in terms of fun entertainment and flawless video and audio quality. It’s now the best reason to invest in a 3D home theatre, if you haven’t already. This is one of the best discs of the year...and frankly, it would be in ANY year.