Brave ***1/2

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“Brave” is Pixar’s first original film since “Up” in 2009. It also features their first female lead character, which feels odd to say about a studio that has redefined animation for almost twenty years.

The story opens in the Scottish kingdom of King Fergus. He presents his young daughter Merida with a bow and arrow much to the dismay of her mother. Years later Merida finds herself in conflict with her mother who frustratingly teaches her how to be a proper princess. Merida fights against this by perfecting her archery skills and exploring the forests on her horse Angus.

Eventually Merida finds herself forced in to marrying the winner of an archery competition. It seems that the clans of the land must compete for her hand in order to keep their alliances strong and avoid war. Merida is torn between her duties as a Princess and her passion for being a free spirit and falling in love.

She decides to enter the competition to win her own hand, which angers her mother and embarrasses her father. After a bitter fight she runs away to the forest where she happens upon a witch who promises her a spell that will change her mothers mind about the marriage but the result is much more dangerous.

All of these story elements are familiar because they have been taken from countless other movies. I could name at least three Disney movies right off the bat that must have inspired some of themes explored here. What makes it fresh and exciting is the stunning animation from the Pixar team. This is one crew that enjoys filling the entire canvas which causes one to have to view their movies multiple times to drink it all in.

“Brave” is Pixars first full on fantasy action film. It contains some very intense battles and violence that may be too scary for younger viewers. It may not be their best movie but it is still better than most family fair such as “Madagascar 3”.

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