It features the first Disney Princess to join the princess line not done by Disney. (Disney owns Pixar but keeps its animated universes separate.)
The story opens as a very young and carefree girl, Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald of “Boardwalk Empire” fame), with a fiery tangle of red hair, running and playing and receiving her first bow and arrows.
We’re introduced to her parents: father, Fergus, voiced by Billy Connolly (“Boondock Saints”); and her mother, Elinor, voiced by Emma Thompson (“Nanny McPhee”); as well as the antagonist of the film, Mordu, a savage, mangled giant bear who attacks the family as Fergus and his men protect his brood.
We soon find out that this is indeed a royal family, and Merida is a princess who, through her mother’s constant persistence, must become a proper lady, much to the chagrin of said princess, who enjoys riding around on her horse and shooting off as many arrows as she can. And over the years, she’s become quite good.
Merida soon learns that she must be married off, as warranted by an ancient custom, and she quickly balks at the scenario, sending her kingdom and those surrounding it, into turmoil and unwittingly unleashing a curse upon her mother.
The entire story takes place in a mythical Scotland, and Pixar does an incredibly job rendering the lush forests and expansive landscapes.
Pixar studios are always trying to push the computer-generating envelope, and this film is no different, with the gorgeous curly and tangled locks of hair from our protagonist princess to the flowing rivers of the Scottish lakes and streams.
The story is straightforward enough to keep the young ones interested, though it’s the adults, used to more subtle nods to parenting, that may seem a bit left out in the cold.
The humor is a bit crude at times, especially for a Pixar film, though it’s nothing to get up in arms about, as most children see more in a “Madagascar” movie or some other second-tier animation studio.
The only thing that seemed a bit much was the ferocity of the main bear baddie, Mordu. A few children were heard crying in the theater every time he showed up, but it definitely serves up a bad guy worth fearing.
The voice cast is essentially a who’s-who of Scottish and British actors, mostly recognizable from Harry Potter films.
The character designs in the film are top notch and mostly hilarious, as most Pixar characters are. But what sets it apart from most children fare these days is the fact that there’s a ton of heart in the film.
That may be the reason Pixar Studios spends years developing the story instead of just churning them out as perspective money grabs.
From the initial story idea to finished product, “Brave” took seven years to reach the screen, and you can see every pixel of love in the film.
While it’s not a “Finding Nemo” or “Toy Story,”,it’s definitely one of Pixar’s best so far.
“Brave” is showing at the Rio 6 Theater in both 2D and 3D.
Paul Gonzales is the entertainment writer at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 116, or at thescene@mySouTex.com.