Brave is the second Pixar movie to take a bit of heat from critics and audiences, coming in at 70% fresh from Top Critics at Rottentomatoes.com, a number we would have thought we’d never see connected to Pixar only a few years ago.
I have my suspicions that there is a strange, cultural backlash against Pixar‘s popularity, and though Cars 2 took the brunt of the blow, some residual force was left over for Brave.
The quirky story of a Scottish princess, who wants little more than to throw off tradition and be her own person, Brave is deceptively broad in its scope, with not only fine enough turns at young angst and familial relationships, but also throws in clever nods at cultural forces and the universal upheaval that surrounds all human interaction.
For more on the film itself, which deserves to be near the top of Pixar‘s works, catch the initial Brave review here.
The Blu-Ray release is at once staggeringly impressive, and a bit disappointing, and where you land will depend on what you’re looking for.
For those who can take advantage of the 3D release, this may well become the showoff piece in your collection. Of course, there’s a natural tendency to look toward a live-action film when you try to impress people with the abilities of 3D television, but this one delivers a sharp, clear 3D experience that, as far as I’m concerned, manages to sell the entire theory far better than most other releases I’ve seen.
3D capability is actually something rather tricky to critique, especially because there’s a mental tendency that seems to avoid clarification of the subject. Much like reporting on Blu-Ray itself, HD, or otherwise the further and further reaches of clarity, which makes it difficult to move beyond tacking on additional reallys to our report that it is, “really, really clear.”
In this case, what stands out is the extent to which depth is used, and the detail that remains in those background elements, something that is not always the case with 3D films. Where many releases deliver mainly in the sense of the novelty of 3D, this one leaves you rather awed at what you’re seeing.
Pixar has always managed impressive packages with their home releases, and this is really no exception. Capturing footage throughout the time-consuming process, obviously with an eye toward exactly these bonus features, few films deliver “behind-the-scenes” as well.
For fans of a film, it’s hard to imagine better capturing the experience, or better detailing the construction of both story and film. The kinds of treats and glimpses available are not only thoroughly interesting, but they usually manage a decent bit of entertainment, even when that may strike you as fairly surprising. You only need think back to releases like Up, to know the depth of the construction showcase you’re going to get here.
This one even has an especially “bonus-feeling” bonus in that Brenda Chapman, the original director and writer, who was pulled as director to much internet reaction (largely by way of discussing the odd level of non-discussion about the subject), is featured heavily throughout the featurettes.
What some may find a bit disappointing is that while the release is loaded with more bonuses than can be covered (see a full list from the press release below), they are really all behind-the-scenes featurettes. While there are a couple of divergent offerings, like an alternate opening, and quick glimpses at deleted scenes, some purchasers may view this massive-looking list of bonuses as a list that actually has one entry.
Be that as it may, the trip you’re offered through the film’s construction is impressive. From featurettes detailing the character creation, to those which take you deep into the world of animating such things as bears, horses, moss, and landscape in general, you can’t help but find yourself fascinated by what goes into making such a film, and the specific problems that had to be overcome to get exactly the look and feel the creators were after. Not least, there are fun looks at the trouble caused by, and near abandonment of, Merida’s hair, and the bizarre road to moss that is paved with complex mathematical formulas.
As I’ve said, Pixar rarely leaves anything out when diving into an analysis of film’s history, and here you also get to learn about working the Scottish dialects into the film, the construction of the brawl and overall theory of what fights would be like in this film (and why), and thematic examination of such elements as the tapestry, magic, and Merida’s archery prowess.
If one thing stands out, it is probably the Once Upon a Scene featurette, which explores the various openings that were at one point or another going to introduce us to the film and its characters. We also look at several of the other deleted or reworked ideas here, and in other bonus features, which in the end amounts to some 100 or so scenes that never made it into the film. This stands out as a really solid addition, because while watching trips to Scotland, and the painstaking detail involved with bringing this film to life is interesting in its own right, this particular featurette brings home just how long the team spends on a project. When we see that “at one point” the film was going to open with a shot of sewing the tapestry, in the context of this featurette, we get a very tangible sense that that point, in comparison to the final stages of work, might have been years ago.
Overall, it truly is an impressive collection of features, and the sum of the experience of going through them is something fans of the film will relish. Trying to look objectively at the entity, I can’t help but wish for something that might appeal more to the younger crowd. There is great value here, but not a lot that you want to call fun.
Disney•Pixar proudly announces the Blu-ray™ hi-def debut of “Brave,” the year’s #1 animated movie and Pixar Animation Studio’s 13th consecutive hit, on November 13, 2012. A breathtaking adventure that has entertained audiences of all ages, the stunning Blu-ray release of “Brave” includes hours of all-new bonus material, extraordinary behind the scenes features, extended and deleted scenes, a mysterious and exciting, new short film, ‘The Legend of Mor’du,” and much more.
An original and thrilling journey set in the ancient and magical Highlands of Scotland, “Brave” follows the heroic journey of the headstrong, young adventurer Merida. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida confronts tradition and defies an age-old custom that inadvertently unleashes chaos, and forces her to discover the true meaning of bravery. The 5-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition (1 Blu-ray 3D + 2 Blu-ray Discs + 1 DVD + 1 Digital Copy) has something for everyone – from the home entertainment enthusiast who demands the highest quality, state-of-the-art technology offerings, to the family who enjoys the interactive and engaging bonus features that only Blu-ray can provide – making this unique and beautiful film a “must add” to any home media collection.
BLU-RAY – DISC 1 INCLUDES:
- “La Luna” Theatrical Short – Fans will love this charming short that accompanied the film in theatres. It follows a young boy on his first night working the family business alongside his father andgrandfather.
- “The Legend of Mor’du” Short – This rousing new bonus short film will give fans the chance to delve deeper into the legend behind Mordu, as told by the eccentric witch who transformed him.
- Brave Old World – Fans will watch as members of the “Brave” production team investigate Scotland, exploring its land, culture, people and dialects. The research they gathered was brought thrillingly to life in thefilm. Also, fans will hear what actress Emma Thompson (voice of Queen Elinor) thinks of Pixar’s take on her homeland.
- Merida & Elinor – With the creation of Merida and Elinor, the Pixar filmmakers delved deep into the relationship between mother and daughter. Highlighting contrasts in character design, clothing, animation, voicing, even hairstyle, watch how the filmmakers explored this most important of relationships.
- Bears – Take a look inside the art and design behind the bears in “Brave.” Each of the bears, gentle Mum-Bear and terrifying Mor’du, demanded a different approach to creating their physical appearance and personality.
- Brawl in the Hall – A fascinating and hilarious inside look at the process of creating “Brave’s” fighting Scots, through animation, crowd simulation and fight choreography – not to mention a room full of grunting men whose vocal chortles added authenticity to the raucous scene.
- Wonder Moss – Fans will explore how “Brave’s” technical artists examined the real Scottish countryside and studied the laws of nature, then turned thesefindings into computer codes that would blanket Merida’s Scotland in lush moss, lichen and bracken.
- Magic –The magic and mystery of Scotland is revealed to fans in this charming feature about the legends – from mystical potions to the will-o’-the-wisps – seen in “Brave.”
- Clan Pixar – At Pixar, getting into character is a team effort. From making Haggis to Kilt Fridays to celebrating the Scottish poet Robert Burns, fans will see how the “Brave” production crew truly embraced Scottish themes and customs fueled the Pixar crew throughout the creation of “Brave.”
- Once Upon A Scene – A closer look at the evolution of the storylines throughout the production of the film, including alternative openings to the film and many deleted scenes.
- Extended Scenes – Three separate scenes are highlighted in their extended form. Director Mark Andrews discusses the decision making process that led to the shortened versions of these scenes.
- Director Commentary
- “Fergus & Mor’du” An Alternate Opening – Once upon a time, “Brave” had a different opening scene. Eventually cut from the film, fans can see it in its entirety in this bonus feature narrated by the film’s director Mark Andrews.
- Fallen Warriors Montage – A selection of deleted shots that were cut from the film late in production are presented to fans in various stages ofcompletion through a video montage narrated by director Mark Andrews.
- Dirty Hairy People – Fans will enjoy this uproarious bonus feature discussing the development of “Brave’s” Scots – including the design of their hair, attire, and dirt-crusted physiques.
- It is English…Sort Of – This bonus feature helps fans interpret some of the more Scottish lines in the film, thanks to the real Scottish actors who play the key characters and contributed their own dialects and sayings.
- Angus – A look at Merida’s most trusted companion, Angus, a mighty Clydesdale.
- The Tapestry – Fans will learn the story behind this embroidered emblem of family unity, which was lovingly crafted by “Brave’s” team of artists.
- Promotional Pieces – This bonus includes promotional clips for “Brave,” including: “Feast Yer Eyes,” “Relics,” “Clan DunBroch,” “Launch,” and more.
- Art Gallery – A selection of breathtaking art from the creation of the film, showcasing characters, sets, scenes and stunning landscapes.
- Wee Gaffes – A video montage of simulation, animation and shot bloopers.
- Renaissance Animation Man – Get a look at Director Mark Andrews’ love of Scotland, sword-fighting, music and more!
- Teasers and Sneak Peeks
- “La Luna” Theatrical Short
- “The Legend of Mordu” All-New Short
- Director Commentary
Fergus Shares a Legend