"Brave" is one of those lovely Pixar films that hits the entertainment palette like a well-crafted bisque; it’s smooth and wonderfully executed, masking the tremendous craft required to create it. For sure, the film is a delightfully charming coming-of-age tale set in the Highlands of Scotland, offering to audiences a heroic clash between mother and daughter with aged traditions the gulf that separates them - and the wonderful joys that come from spanning such a chasm. Young people can identify with the headstrong Merida, who wants nothing more than to break from her princess role and live an adventurous life, while parents can associate with Queen Elinor, whose exasperation with her daughter’s defiance wars with her adoration for her only child. It’s an instantly relatable tale that’s exquisitely animated thanks to Pixar’s esteemed storytellers and technologists.
On a Blu-ray enabled flatscreen, it’s both colorful and instantaneously engaging, both for its surround sound and for its visual clarity. Animation aficionados will adore this digital transfer - and kids, though they may not appreciate the hi-def nature of the film, will nonetheless be more enraptured thanks to it.
But it’s the special features on the set that make this truly worth owning. While "The Legend of Mordu" is a somewhat lackluster exploration of the central myth told in the film regarding the four princes and the war between them, the documentaries on the making of the film are quite literally jaw-dropping. So much of the detail-oriented filmmaking passes by audiences without a second look - for example, the extraordinary work required to architect the royal tapestry, or the development of bears that not only move realistically, but also represent a departure from how we’ve seen these animals animated in countless incarnations before. I suspect most people understand that Merida’s hair was an amazing achievement in animation, but the heights to which the Pixar team pushed their craft to tell her story are inspiring beyond her locks.
As an aside, the alternate opening of the film is also worth watching, and fans of "La Luna," the short which preceded the film in cinemas, will appreciate that it’s here as well.