Brave

You guys, Brave is amazing! I had very little knowledge of the story going into the film. From the trailer, I assumed it was about a young princess, Merida (voiced by Trainspotting‘s Kelly MacDonald!), who grows angry about her parents trying to marry her off, runs away into the woods, and fights a giant bear, thereby proving her independence and bravery, and maybe meeting some charming peasant boy along the way with whom she falls in love. I was way off! There’s so much more going on in the movie, and the plot goes in directions I knew absolutely nothing about beforehand. In this age of spoilers and Internet leaks, I found that really, really refreshing.

The cast is exemplary. Aside from Kelly MacDonald, Brave also features the voices of Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, and Craig Ferguson. Oh, and John “Cliff Claven” Ratzenberger, because he is contractually obligated to be in every Pixar movie ever.

In addition, the animation is superb. We’re talking drops of water, blades of grass, strands of hair, the slowly clearing mist on a field, all presented nearly photo-realistically. (The only thing still not animating photo-realistically in CGI is human beings, but in Brave they work, for the most part.) This might be the best CGI animation I’ve seen to date. Though I saw the film in 2D, it’s also playing in 3D. I usually don’t think it’s worth the extra cost or the uncomfortable glasses, but I bet Brave would look great in 3D.

I’m not a parent, so I can’t say whether the film is too scary for littler kids, but I will say there were three toddler-age children in the theater and none of them seemed to have any problem with what was unfolding onscreen. Not even during the more intense scenes, of which there are a few.

If you’ve been meaning to check out Brave, I highly recommend doing so. And see it on the big screen if you can. The animation is truly astounding. (They showed a short animated film before the movie, too, called La Luna. It’s nearly impossible to describe, except to say that it’s absolutely charming. Look for it on the Oscar ballot next year.)

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