Pixar, who has been around for 20 some years, have been perceived as a sexist animation company. Why you might ask? Try to think of a Pixar film where the lead character isn’t male. The closest we get is Toy Story 2 with Jessie and Finding Nemo with Dory, but alas, they are still just supporting characters to the male leading roles. So Pixar tried to fix this by presenting a story that not only has a female lead character, but also revolves around a mother and daughter relationship. And so Brave was born, the first Pixar animation with two female leads!
The story revolves around the relationship between Merida and her mom, Elinor. Brave is a mother and daughter tale of struggle and understanding. We meet a free-spirited and untamed Merida and her high-strung prim and proper perfectionist mother. As the queen, it is Elinor’s duty to train and raise up her daughter as a respectful princess to rule over the kingdom as queen, but due to the massive personality clash, it becomes more difficult than it should be.
In an “epic” display of manhood, the eligible bachelors of the other 3 tribes try to win her hand in marriage, but Merida finds a way to postpone this ceremony in order to change her fate. Marrying anyone against her will is the last thing she wants to do. So in a typical Disney setting, she stumbles upon a witch, a bear obsessed witch, and promptly asks her for something to change her fate. Of course this backfires in a witty manner and Merida accidentally turns her mother into a bear. Set against a beautifully rich Scottish theme, where cultural references are to be found at every corner, the story is about the daughter and mother bears adventure into finding a way to reverse the curse and mend the broken bonds.
Pixar have wasted no resource in refining and expanding every detail of Scotland, where the tale is set. The immense richness of the backdrop is enough to keep the eye candy level at maximum, and the 3D element just brings all of this out in its full potential. Attention to detail is something Pixar has always prided themselves on, and equally so, quality is what Disney prides themselves on. This awesome amalgamation is what gives us the best versions of the films to take home and watch as a 3D Blu-ray, and Brave is a stunning example.
The audio is really what immerses you into the setting. Everything from the sound design to the music score have all been beautifully mastered to set you right in the middle of Scotland a thousand years ago. Skywalker Studios, who have worked on every Pixar film, never ceases to amaze. It never comes as a surprise either because only the world’s finest audio engineers work there. Nuff said, its incredible. Take a listen.
The Bonus Features on this two-disk set are interesting and really take you into the minds of the creators, with plenty of Behind-the-Scenes and a lot of bonus material, which the real fans would enjoy. Interestingly enough, if you are an animator then these specific Bonus Features would be a real treat for you. They often go into the mechanics of how they did things and even the mathematical formulas used in processing some elements. It gets both creative and technical.
Pixar Short Film: ‘La Luna’
Pixar Short Film: ‘The Legend of Mor’du’
Featurette: “Brave Old World”
Featurette: “Merida & Elinor”
Featurette: “Brawl in the Hall”
Featurette: “Wonder Moss”
Featurette: “Clan Pixar”
Featurette: “Once Upon a Scene”
Another thing I really enjoyed about the bonus features is that on the 3D disk, you could view the animated shorts in 3D as well, something that they don’t always give you. This is a real treat because the shorts are incredible and in no way lesser than the actual feature film.
The Brave 3D Blu-ray is a great addition to any collection, the first of its kind for Pixar, and some great technical achievements in both video and audio quality. For the first time we get to see a not so perfect Disney princess and it still retains the style and feel of a Pixar story.