Pixar’s latest film, Brave, is the studio’s first original fairytale, and also the first to feature a female protagonist. Although the story is not as original as past Pixar films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo, or WALL-E, it still carries the same charm, spirit, and quality many have come to associate with the studio. All of the characters are unique and relatable, providing the usual right mix of drama and humor. The protagonist, Merida, is especially spirited, driven, and instantly likable. Although some may assume that the film is geared towards girls, as technically Merida can be added to the list of Disney princesses, I still found the film incredibly entertaining and appealing for both genders and all age groups. There is plenty of action, humor, and more masculine comedic moments alongside the mother-daughter tension that is the primary focus of the plot.
As expected from a Pixar movie, the animation and art style are simply breathtaking. The Scottish scenery is beautifully rendered, particularly the many scenes within the forest. In some, I noticed every single blade of grass individually rendered in high detail. Each of the varying landscapes, from the sunny forest to the castle interior to the foggy mountains, look beautiful and incredibly detailed. Also, as her defining attribute and most likely the most difficult technical challenge for the film, Merida’s wonderfully curly hair deserves mention. The hair simulation is fantastic, particularly the few scenes when her hair gets wet and still maintains realistic shape and movement. The film also contains excellent cloth and crowd simulation. Additionally, I thought the modeling work on the demon bear Mor’du was exceptional, and would really like a chance to see him fully lit to examine the details.
Overall, while Brave‘s story might not please all of the critics or become an instant fairytale classic, it is never-the-less an entertaining, heart-warming story and an incredibly beautiful film.