Brave (PG)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/08/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Beautifully animated and brilliantly written, this is a hugely entertaining, properly magical adventure that's up there with the best of Pixar and is by turns thrilling, laugh-out-loud funny, genuinely surprising and deeply moving.

What's it all about?
Co-directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, Brave is set in mythical 10th century Scotland and centres on Merida (Kelly Macdonald), the feisty, flame-haired daughter of one-legged King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Her parents are anxious to marry her off, as per tradition, to the son of one of three lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), wild Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and grumpy Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). However, Merida has other ideas and after defeating all three of her suitors in an archery competition, she has a furious argument with her mother and flees into the forest.

When she follows a trail of will-o'-the-wisps, Merida finds an enchanted cottage where an old woman (Julie Walters) offers her a cake that will “cause the queen to change.” Needless to say, this all goes horribly wrong and Merida unwittingly unleashes an ancient beastly curse on her mother, meaning that she'll have to use all her wits and resourcefulness to protect her until she can find a way to reverse the enchantment before it's too late.

The Good
The characters are extremely likeable and the voice work, as ever, is superb: Kelly Macdonald channels her inner teenager to winning effect and her interactions with both her parents feel completely convincing. Thompson is equally great as Elinor and Connolly is rather wonderful as one-legged, bear-hating Fergus, while there's strong comic support from the likes of Ferguson, Coltrane and McKidd, who also contributes an authentic Doric accent as the incomprehensible son of Lord MacGuffin.

Needless to say, the animation is utterly gorgeous throughout, particularly on Merida's wild, untameable ginger hair, which is practically a character in its own right. Similarly, the detailed forests and landscapes look genuinely stunning, thanks to extensive research work by the production team, while the character designs are utterly charming, not least on Merida's three rambunctious younger brothers (who don't speak).

The Great
The script is packed with great dialogue (helped enormously by an authentic Scottish cast) and delivers a steady stream of terrific sight gags and one-liners alongside a pleasingly empowering central message; it also builds to a finale that is powerfully moving. In addition, the set pieces are genuinely thrilling (especially Merida's first ride through the forest) and the 3D effects are used well, most notably on the archery scenes. There's also a terrific soundtrack with some great songs that have Oscar nominations written all over them.

Worth seeing?
It's become something of a cliché to say that Pixar have done it again, but, well, they have. Brave is a hugely enjoyable, beautifully animated adventure that's a treat for the whole family. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Brave (PG)
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Content updated: 11/12/2017 05:59

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