Brave 3D Blu-ray Review
From the very beginning, BRAVE felt like a movie that just didn’t know what it wanted to be. Is it a coming of age action movie? Is it a heartwarming story about a daughter learning to appreciate her mother? Is it a historical adventure? Is it a slapstick comedy for younger audiences? Actually, it’s a little bit of all of those things and none of them at the same time. Pixar has made a living out of telling wonderful, heartfelt stories with characters we love, which makes BRAVE even more confusing because like CARS 2 before it, the film seems to be another indication that Pixar has lost its way.
BRAVE tells the story of Merida, the first born daughter of King Fergus, who is rejecting the old Scottish traditions and instead, wants to shoot arrows and fight with the men of the kingdom. The source of the conflict is Merida’s mother, Elinor. Elinor has a very strict plan for young Merida and after a fight over Merida’s upcoming planned marriage, Merida runs away. This leads her to an old witch, who agrees to “change” Elinor’s mind for Merida. But the change is not what Merida had in mind and instead of simply changing her mind, the witch’s spell changes Elinor into a bear; a bear that looks a lot like the one that battled with Fergus earlier in the film.
In the previews, the marketing team avoided talking about the mother-into-a-bear aspect of the film, but that’s actually the whole plot. Instead, they sold the movie as the story of a girl chasing her dream and changing her destiny, which is a good message for young women, just not the message in the film. The real message of the film is that children should listen to their parents and parents should listen to their kids. That’s also a good message, but one I expect to see on Sesame Street, not one I expect from the studio that brought us incredible movies like TOY STORY and WALL-E. It was tough to get behind Merida and Elinor’s effort to reverse the spell because the very inclusion of the spell felt forced and out of place. I felt cheated by Pixar for telling such a simple story and telling it so sloppily.
If the basic storyline didn’t set this apart from other Pixar films, then the unusual use of potty humor definitely did. Whether it was an older Scotsman flashing the crowd or a group of guys walking naked after using their pants to climb down the tower, directors Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman used a lot of easy, simplistic jokes that took away from the point of the film. I’m accustomed to Pixar movies that are geared towards kids, but sophisticated enough for adults, but I felt BRAVE was geared towards adults, but dumb enough for little kids. I imagine that children under the age of five probably laughed uncontrollably at the toilet humor, which is great for kids. But it’s important that movies with this production value have jokes and elements to keep the adults entertained as well and BRAVE wasn’t able to do that.
Speaking of production value, BRAVE looked incredible. Merida’s flowing red hair was astonishing in its detail and this is possibly Pixar’s best production effort yet. I suspect that her hair was a sense of pride amongst the animators, as it should be, since it was focused on so heavily in the film. I also have to give credit to the voice actors, specifically Kelly Macdonald as Merida and Billy Connolly as Fergus. They both have wonderful voices and they clearly got into their characters, adding a depth that otherwise would have been lost.
It was easy to ignore CARS 2, but BRAVE is the biggest indication yet that the days of PIXAR delivering quality, original movies that appeal to both kids and adults may be over. BRAVE had some sweet moments and looked amazing, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the storyline and easy jokes. That said, if I had a little girl under the age of seven or eight, I would probably enjoy watching this with her.
3D BLU-RAY REVIEW
Disney knows how to do 3D and BRAVE looked incredible. Merida’s hair is a thing to see in 3D, as are the lush Scottish landscapes. The action scenes really popped on 3D, allowing the audience to become even more engrossed in the film. This is clearly one of the best 3D releases of the year.
Video: Nobody does Blu-ray like Disney-Pixar and BRAVE is a perfect example of just how stunning something can look on the format. Everything about this video transfer is technically stunning.
Audio: The audio is just as impressive, adding yet another depth to the film.
Audio Commentary with Director Mark Andrews, co-director Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen and editor Nick Smith: This commentary is great because these guys always keep the conversation going and give lots of information on various topics.
Short Films (13:58): Two of Pixar’s shorts that include “La Luna” and “The Legend of Mor’Du”.
Behind the Scenes (50:02): This is broken down into eight featurettes that covers topics like the trip to Scotland to scout out the locations, the female characters in the film and the fairy tale and magical elements in the film. These are all interesting to watch and should be checked out if you have time.
Extended Scenes (12:59):Four scenes that include a little pop-up to let you know what was added in from the final cut.
Promotional Pieces (14:01): This little bit includes both international promotional material and some deleted scenes that were interesting to watch.
Fergus & Mor’Du: An Alternate Opening (2:58): This is an alternate opening to the film that isn’t in the completed animation stage.
Fallen Warriors (1:59): A short montage of bits from the film that didn’t make the final cut.
Dirty Hairy People (4:02): This is about how the animators tried to stay true to the time in Scotland by giving the characters less than desirable traits.
It is English…Sort Of (3:57): This is a bit of Scottish slang from our Pixar friends.
Angus (3:03): This is about the design process of the cool horse Angus.
The Tapestry (4:04): This is a bit about Merida’s tapestry and the role it plays in the film.