|Disney/Pixar, via Wikimedia|
Brave is the story of Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and is set in 10th century Scotland. Merida is a free spirit who loves doing everything "un-princess": getting outside the castle walls, being adventurous, and her archery. Merida's mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), is more focused on raising her for a royal arranged marriage and to prepare her for the structured life she would live in that way role.
Merida takes on the role of the rebellious teen and contracts with a witch to alter her destiny by changing her mother. That of course sets the story on the path of "what could possibly go wrong?" - and Merida's quest to set things right.
With the exception of Merida's father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), there really aren't any male characters of significance and those that are there (including the King) are mainly present for comic relief. I wouldn't characterize Brave as a "chick flick" though - there's plenty there for men and boys alike.
Brave is rated PG, and deservedly so. Small children will likely get scared by the action scenes, which involve large menacing black bears. My seven year-old grabbed my arm a couple of times and said he was scared, but he made it through and afterwards talked glowingly about enjoying the movie, so no long term ill effects there.
Pixar's first fairy tale movie should be seen in 3D, which is how we saw it. The added depth of the 3D cinematics adds so much to this film, and makes Merida's flowing red curly hair all the more amazing. The only exception to the 3D recommendation is for small children; the intense scenes would probably be less threatening to them on standard projection.
The animation and visualizations are incredible, as we've come to expect from Pixar. They leave just enough "cartoonishness" in so you don't think it's real...although on some of the wide shots and landscapes it's hard to tell.
When we got home from the theater, I went up on iTunes and gave the filmmakers some more props by purchasing the soundtrack. The music is absolutely fantastic. The film is scored by Patrick Doyle using traditional Scottish themes and instruments. There are two songs in particular that are already on my playlists. First is "Touch the Sky", performed by Celtic artist Julie Fowlis. Second is "Learn Me Right" by Mumford & Sons and performed by them and vocalist Birdy.
All in all, I rate Brave as an 8 of 10. Enjoy!