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Brave This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Disney has taken us all the way around the world, from rich Arabian palaces to exotic Chinese empires and back through the lively swingin’ streets of Louisiana. Now it has brought us to the vivid expanses of Scotland with "Brave" – the “vivid” provided by Disney’s partnership with Pixar.

The hype leading up to "Brave" is huge, mostly due to the immense amount of money that has been put into advertisement. Besides, this is Pixar and Disney working together – as the creators of revered movies like "Aladdin", "Toy Story" and more recently, "Up", the partnership alone raises expectations sky-high. But the question is, does "Brave" come through with everything it promises?

Visually, the answer is yes. The CGI animation in this movie is breathtaking: the visuals are bright and realistic and very, very detailed. Every lock of flaming hair is visible, as well as each stitch in the well-known Scottish tapestries and every straw of hay in the barns. And the landscaping alone is worth the admission price. "Brave" manages to show us the diverse beauty of Scotland’s many natural landmarks during the first few minutes. We are treated to a mad-dash ride past forests, up hills, and even a close-up view of the most magnificent waterfall animation has to offer today. Later, a chilling rendition of the famous Callanish stone circles is introduced as a pivotal setting of the storyline. It is not an exaggeration to say that "Brave"’s strongest trait is its animation, our hats off to Pixar.

That is to say, the storyline doesn’t quite compete. In fact, it falls rather short after the initial introduction. After all, one can’t be amused by beautiful landscapes for an hour and thirty-three minutes straight. Our Disney princess this time is Merida: a strong-willed, independent young lady who would rather make some dubious deals with a witch than risk losing her freedom, which is exactly what happens.

After her mother, the good Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson), announces her impending betrothal to one of three princes, Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) tries everything to stop it. After one failed scheme, she runs off to do the irreparable: change her fate. What she doesn’t foresee is the massive consequences to doing it, and the main storyline is structured around the journey she takes with her mother to put things right – a journey of forgiveness, understanding, and the unbreakable love between a mother and her daughter.

This tale of family is uniquely heartwarming at best and boring at worst. Merida is an interesting character who can be alternately selfish and selfless, guilty and proud, just like a real person. In fact, she is strongly reminiscent of teens today. Her mother is just as real, with the all-wise, do-things-my-way personality mothers are quite famous for. Their lines – “I wish she would just listen!” –match perfectly with the dynamics of most mother and daughter relationships. Up to this point "Brave" is realistic to a fault and very well-presented.

However, the plotline itself is the problem. It’s quite slow-paced, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can bore the movie-goer at certain points. Some jump-scares and humor are incorporated to make the waiting amusing, but when the real plotline doesn’t begin until halfway through the movie, you know the slow-pacing is a problem.

"Brave" spends so much time introducing the characters and having fun with little humorous antics that it seems to forget there is actually a central plot, and one that needs elaborating on. When it does begin the main adventure, it rushes past the actual adventuring and starts to tie up loose ends immediately. Instead of showing us a progression between a marvelous beginning and neatly tying up with an action-packed end, "Brave" skips the middle entirely. By the end of the movie, we are left with a rather curious feeling of dissatisfaction because of it.

"Brave" isn’t bad. It’s rather good, considering how beautiful it is to look at. However, with such a cast of realistic, interesting characters and the (incredibly) well-done CGI animation, "Brave" could have been much more than “good, but forgettable.” My suggestion? Go for the visuals.



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