Another beautifully animated movie from Pixar (Wall-E, Up, Toy Story and the rest), Brave is set in a mythical Scotland of the past, filled with shimmering lochs, luscious forests and magical will-o-the-wisps. It is there that a flame-haired princess named Merida (Macdonald) lives with her mother, Queen Elinor (Thompson), her cheeky younger brothers and dad, King Fergus, who often tells his kids in gruesome detail how he survived an attack by a enormous bear (unfortunately losing his leg in the process).
Unfortunately, Merida – who doesn’t want to be a lady, and would rather be riding across the hills, curly red hair flying behind her – is of marrying age, so her parents decide there should be a contest between three young men of neighbouring clans, the prize being Merida’s hand in marriage. Merida’s not too impressed with this plan (it doesn’t help that the three suitors are duds) and so begins a battle of wills between the young, fiery girl and her mother that eventually leads Merida to the door of an old witch whom she asks for help. And we all know favours from gnarled old magical crones rarely end well.
With a superb first act as Merida asserts herself as some sort of medieval feminist, this loses its way a bit in the middle as mother and daughter are forced to work together to undo a very unfortunate and rather idiotic curse. It becomes all a bit too touchy feely for a few scenes, but luckily the story soon romps to a more action-filled conclusion that involves Fergus’s bear nemesis (who, having taken the old King’s leg, now wants to chomp on the rest of him).
If parents have been looking for a movie for their daughter that features a feisty heroine, they will certainly find one here, and as well as being a charmingly tough cookie, Merida looks great too – not too beautiful, but sporting that stunning copper hair that is so impressively animated. It’s not classic Pixar perhaps – one can’t imagine people waxing lyrical about Brave in the decades to come as they may do about, say, Up – but like Merida herself it’s fun, spirited and colourful.
Is Brave suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The bear attack at the start will scare the under-6s.
There are other scenes involving bears that may also scare little ones, especially those featuring the bear that attacked Fergus.
Very young children may be frightened by the witch.