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Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 6, 2012 by  



A first for Pixar….first female director, the first fairy tale film and a film that focuses on a mother and daughter relationship.  But “Brave” is much more than that!  It’s a film that is strong on storytelling, featuring wonderful acting but also, “Brave” is one of the most impressive Blu-ray releases I have ever seen and heard in my years of reviewing Blu-ray releases.  “Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” is a must-own, must-buy Blu-ray release!  Highly recommended and deserving of five stars!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 93 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:39:1), English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and 5.1, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Near Field Mix, French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital,  Subtitles: English SDH, English Commentary 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish

COMPANY: Anchor Bay Entertainment

RATED: PG (For Some Scary Action and Rude Humor)

Release Date: November 13, 2012

Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell

Story by Brenda Chapman

Screenplay by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman, Irene Mecchi

Produced by Katherine Sarafian

Executive Producer: Peter Docter, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton

Associate Producer: Mary Alice Drumm

Music by Patrick Doyle

Edited by Nicholas C. Smith

Casting by Natalie Lyon, Kevin Reher

Starring:

Kelly Macdonald as Merida

Billy Connolly as Fergus

Emma Thompson as Elinor

Julie Walters as the Witch

Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall

Kevin McKidd as Lord MacGuffin/Young MacGuffin

Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh

Sally Kinghorn as Maudie

Peigi Barker as Young Merida

Pixar Animation Studios, the creator of Toy Story 3, whisks you away on an astonishing adventure to an ancient land full of mystery  and tradition.  Bursting with heart, unforgettable characters and Pixar’s signature humor, Brave is a “rousing, gorgeously animated good time, ” raves Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.

In the summer of 2012, Pixar Animation Studios released their latest computer-animated film titled “Brave”.

The summer blockbuster was written by award-winning writer Brenda Chapman (“Chicken Run”, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “The Real Ghostbusters”), Mark Andrews (“John Carter”, “Spider-Man”), Steve Purcell (creator of the adventure game series “Sam & Max”) and Irene Mecchi (“The Lion King”, “Hercules”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”) and co-directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell.

The film would become Pixar’s first fairy tale film and also feature a darker tone compared to previous Pixar animated films.  And as one would expected from a Pixar film, “Brave” which was budgeted around $185 million, went on to earn over $532 million in the box office.

And now “Brave” will be released on November 2012, with a special Ultimate Collector’s Edition (includes the Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and Digital Copy version of the film).

“Brave” is a film that is set in Scotland and begins with young Merida receiving a present from the great King Fergus of Clan DunBroch (voiced by Bill Connolly, “Boondock Saints”, “The Last Samurai”).  The present is a bow and with encouragement by both her father and her mother, Queen Elinor voiced by Emma Thompson, “Sense and Sensibility”, “Love Actually”, “Men in Black 3”), Merida begins practicing with her new bow.

But the arrow travels far and when Merida goes to get it inside the forest, she encounters a will-o’-the-wisp.  As young Merida runs to her parents about it, both think she has a creative imagination but all of a sudden, the giant demon bear known as Mor’du goes to attack the family.

While Merida and her mother escape, her father is badly injured and loses his left leg.

Fast forward to an older Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald, “Trainspotting”, “No Country for Old Men”) and she now has three brothers (triplets).  During dinner, her parents bring her the news that because she is the teenage daughter to royalty, she must be betrothed to one of her father’s allied clans.  And that it is important for her to marry or else it would cause harm to Dunbroch, but Merida is not wanting to get married.

But Queen Elinor is very strict with her daughter and makes sure her daughter prepares for the meeting of the sons of the various allied clans.

And so, the clans come to visit and to make sure a man is chosen, the rules are that the first-born sons must compete in the Highland Games for Merida’s hand in marriage and the competition would be archery.  The suitors include Lord Dingwall (voiced by Robbie Coltrane, “Harry Potter” and “James Bond” films), Lord MacGuffin (portrayed by Kevin McKidd, “Grays Anatomy”, “Trainspotting”, “Kingdom of Heaven”) and Lord McIntosh (voiced by Craig Ferguson, “The Late Show with Craig Ferguson”, “Saving Grace”).

But as the sons begin to compete, Merida against her mother’s wishes, joins in the competition and proclaims that if she wins, she doesn’t have to get married and immediately shows off her ace archery skills and embarrasses the male suitors, and her mother is disgraced and upset with her daughter.

The two get into a heated argument and destroys the family tapestry.  She flees into the woods where she sees the will-o’-the-wisps leading her to an area where an elderly witch (voiced by Julie Walters, “Harry Potter” films) resides.   Upset with her mother, Merida wants a spell to change her mother and so, the witch creates a cake which will change her mother after it is eaten.

But what Merida thinks is positive change that her mother will support her, the cake with the witches spell changes her mother into a bear.  Shocked about what she has done, Merida must bring her mother, now in bear form to the witch in order to reverse the spell.  But when her father and the other men smell a bear, they go after to kill it.

When Merida brings her mother to the witch’s cottage, the witch is gone but the witch has left a message for her.  The bear spell will be permanent unless it is undone by the second sunrise and the only way to help her mother is “mend the bond torn by pride”.

Will Merida be able to save her mother and what happens when her mother slowly starts to lose herself and become a bear?

VIDEO:

“Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” is probably one of the most significant Disney/Pixar animated releases I have seen in terms of overall presentation and gorgeous picture quality.  The film is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1) aspect ratio and as far as picture quality is concerned, everything about this film looks incredibly well-detailed.

First, let’s take a look at the Blu-ray 3D version.  For those who have the hardware to display 3D, this is one film that was created with 3D in mind.  From the way the animation utilizes depth for 3D is wonderful to see.  You actually can see the scale of the castle through 3D as it gives an impression the location is quite vast.  While there are scenes with the Elinor as the bear or Mor’du the demon bear cowering over a character with great monstrosity, you can see the scale of the bears.

But for the most part, the 3D for this film is improved compared to past Disney 3D films.  Overall, depth gives us a sense of scale much more effective for the film on Blu-ray 3D.

As for the Blu-ray release, the Blu-ray of “Brave” is fantastic.

From the food that King Fergus is eating to the emphasis on hair, from the strands of hair, unkept hair, beard hair, ear hair, you name it, there is a lot of detail when it comes to hair and hair physics in this film.  Also, the clothing are well=-detailed, the background scenery looks magnificent outdoors especially indoors.  The overall color is sharp, vibrant and black levels are nice and deep.

There are so many things about this film that looks realistic and detailed, I was really impressed.  The overall picture quality is one of the best I have seen on Blu-ray and the film on Blu-ray looks amazing!

As for the DVD, the DVD version is presented in 2:39:1, enhanced for 16×9 televisions.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

If you thought that “Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” was great for videophiles, audiophiles will also find a lot of satisfaction with the Blu-ray release.  Presented in Dolby TrueHD 7.1, this is one of the most immersive Disney Blu-ray releases I have heard for an animated film.  From the environmental ambiance of hearing the forest, the wind, the trees, the grass being fully integrated to the film and giving you the sense that Merida and family are out in the country, there is also great utilization of sound when Mor’Du approaches or when Ilinor growls in bear form.  There is also great utilization of sound when Merida is shooting her bow and arrow or when the men are fighting against the demon bear.

The immersive soundtrack utilizes the surround channels may it be with sound effects or its beautiful musical soundtrack but also a good amount of LFE to make you feel those action scenes.  But the positive factor of this film is its immersiveness and making you feel that sound outdoors are coming from all over your soundscape.  “Brave” sounds absolutely fantastic in Blu-ray!

As for subtitles, subtitles are presented in English SDH, English Commentary 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • La Luna – (6:57) A theatrical short about a young boy working with his father and grandfather.
  • The Legend of Mor’Du – (6:51) What is the history about the demon bear known as Mor’Du.
  • Behind the Scenes – (12:35) Featuring seven scenes in which the crew traveled to Scotland and embraced the scenery which was important for creating the look and feel of “Brave”.
  • Once Upon a Time – (7:47) Each scene may have had different perspectives and storytelling that had to be cut out.  This segment features the different ideas for a certain scene.
  • Extended Scenes  – Featuring four separate extended scenes with extra scenes that were cut out of the final cut.
  • Director’s Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director Mark Andrews, co-director Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen and editor Nick Smith.
  • Fergus & Mor’Du: An Alternate Opening – (2:40) Featuring a scene that original focused on King Fergus.
  • Fallen Warriors – (2:08) Shots that were cut out of the final version of the film and honored in this Blu-ray.
  • Dirty Hairy People – (3:33) The animators talk about how the characters have a lot of hair in this animated film.  As well as trying to capture the authenticity of Scottish people of that time period, including bad teeth.
  • It is English… Sort of – (3:50) The Scottish talent and crew discuss the various Scottish dialects utilized in the film and with various characters.
  • Angus – (3:25) A feature about the research of horses and capturing the look and feel of the horse and also creating the relationship between Merida and her horse Angus.
  • The Tapestry – (3:56) Creating the visual element of the tapestry and its importance int he film.
  • Art Galleries – With your remote, you can view art revolving around the characters, color keys, development art, environments and graphics.

EXTRAS:

“Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” comes with a cardboard sleeve case with a renticular front featuring Merida.  The Ultimate Collector’s Edition comes with the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy.

“Brave” was a pleasant surprise to come from Pixar.

Not only was the storyline a bit dark, but rarely do you find a story that is concentrated on a mother and daughter relationship.  But obviously it was a film that was used to test waters of what Pixar can accomplish outside of animated films that featured non-human characters, especially characters who were not young children and it was also a film that featured Pixar Animation Studios first female director.

While a film like “Up” was a film about an elderly man’s life who is changed thanks to a child, “Brave” is a film that was driven by co-director and co-writer Brenda Chapman and capturing the relationship between mother and daughter.  From Chapman’s experience of traveling to Scotland and wanting to create a fairy tale in the tradition of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm.

I’m always open for something unique and different and what I enjoyed about this film is it’s overall feel and how the film incorporated Scottish dialects and utilizing the right talent that fit the film.  Originally, Reese Witherspoon was to voice the character of Merida, but it worked to Pixar’s benefit to have actress Kelly Macdonald play the lead character.  From the spoken dialogue to seeing a female character that is athletic, dominant but also free-spirited, you just don’t see this kind of character in a Disney animated film.

And speaking of acting, along with actress Kelly Macdonald, “Brave” also features wonderful voice acting from Bill Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson.  The voice acting really made a big difference in the believability of this film.

And it’s important to mention that “Brave” is not a film that loses its cuteness in sake of creating something realistic.  While the film does focus on mother and daughter relationships, children will no doubt love the adorable and mischievous nature of Merida’s triplet young brothers.  And also, for action purposes, you have Merida’s father ready to jump into any fray to defend his family and people.

The characters are fun, the scenery looks absolutely beautiful and overall animation is fantastic.  But will it work for children?  I think children will love it for its action.  I also feel that families will enjoy it for that family bonding storyline but also the nature of the story and the aspect of family.

And for those who have wanted an animated film with a brave heroine, “Brave” is that kind of movie.

As for the Blu-ray release, “Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” is wonderful!  Not only is this the best 3D animated film to come from Disney thus far, it’s also a film that looks and sounds incredible on Blu-ray.  There is so much detail in the characters (especially the hair!) , clothing, backgrounds and scenery, I was impressed by seeing how fantastic “Brave” looks on Blu-ray.  It really was breathtaking just to watch this film and see how Pixar continues to improve after one hit film after the other.   As for special features, you get a lot of them included with this release that shows us how much work and research went into capturing Scottish culture and integrating it through the entire film.

And with the holiday season coming up, “Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” is also fantastic as you get the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy.

A first for Pixar….first female director, the first fairy tale film and a film that focuses on a mother and daughter relationship.  But “Brave” is much more than that!  It’s a film that is strong on storytelling, featuring wonderful acting but also, “Brave” is one of the most impressive Blu-ray releases I have ever seen and heard in my years of reviewing Blu-ray releases.

“Brave: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” is a must-own, must-buy Blu-ray release!   And is highly recommended and deserving of five stars!






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