Plot: Merida is a young princess who struggles with her place in life, as she doesn’t want to follow tradition and do as it dictates. While her mother Elinor tries to teach her to be a proper lady, Merida never felt comfortable as the typical princess, with all the prim and proper elements. She feels at home when she is riding her horse, shooting her bow, and letting her real personality shine. Of course, a proper princess shouldn’t have weapons, eat whatever she wants, and think outside the box, or at least that is what countless years of tradition claim. As if her current pressures aren’t enough, Merida is told that several clans are headed to the family estate, where the first born sons will compete to claim her hand in marriage. This proves to be too much for Merida, who ventures off into the woods and follows some wisps to an old cottage, which happens to be home to a witch. She strikes a deal with the witch to get a spell to change her mother, so Merida can avoid her unwanted fate. But when the spell causes some unexpected twists, Merida and her mother have some serious problems ahead.

Entertainment Value: Merida is one of the more interesting princesses on the Disney roster, as she seems to have no interest in a prince and is more than capable of handling her own business. In Brave, she presents one of the strongest female characters in Disney’s vault, one that rises above the typical princess persona and refuses to be pushed into a stereotype. This was quite evident when Disney tried to alter Merida’s look and fans rebelled, prompting Disney to leave her as she was intended. The movie itself is a little busy for me, but given that it is aimed at young audiences, the constant pratfalls and visual gags make sense. The characters have big personalities, which makes them quite memorable and even small roles stand out, such as the oddball first born sons and the top heavy chambermaid. Most of the humor works and the movie is never dull, so the pace remains brisk and makes sure to get the narrative across, even in more joke jammed sequences. Merida is a great character and a breath of fresh air, a strong female lead that leaves the old princess archetype in the dust. For fans of Disney and Pixar, Brave is one that you’ll need in your collection.

As you’d expect from a Pixar movie, the visuals are lush and insanely detailed, down to the most minor touches. The tech behind Merida’s hair alone is remarkable and in every scene, her fiery locks stand out. In a time when CGI in live action movies is a curse, Pixar is able to conjure up these incredible worlds, filled with life and lore, it is just really impressive work. In addition to her beautiful hair, Merida’s design is terrific overall, an interesting and very unique look in the Disney princess realm. Some of the other characters have wild and outlandish designs, such as Merida’s father, but her look is quite grounded. The attention to detail is stunning at times, to the point that you could scan backgrounds and find new little details each time. I love the style choices made here and even by Pixar’s high standards, this is phenomenal work. The voice talent is great as well, with a host of native speakers that ensure the accents are on point and never seem forced or unnatural. This one has beautiful visuals, great performances, and a fun story, all you could ask and more.

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