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Brave (3D) (DQ)


Stars: Voices: Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson

Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman

To the background of swirling bagpipes, Pixar's latest animation, set in the Scotland of a few hundred years ago, gives us an arrow-wielding princess that reminds us of The Hunger Games, and a wicked witch who's surely the cousin of the one in Disney's Snow White.

The story itself, though, hardly goes in the direction we expect. Marida (Macdonald), feisty sub-teen daughter of the king (the unmistakeable tones of Connolly) and queen (Thompson) has hair like Rebekah Brooks and a will of her own. Refusing to choose between three (equally loutish) potential suitors for her hand in marriage, she takes on all three at archery and wipes the floor with them.

We anticipate Merida's further adventures protecting the kingdom and her independence, but this is not the directors' intention. Falling out with her mother over the suitors, Merida takes a sword and hacks apart the tapestry depicting her family, fleeing on her (splendidly realised) horse into the forest.

This is where the witch (Walters), masquerading as a woodcarver, comes in. Instead of buying a bow to replace the one her mother has burned, Merida buys a spell, which turns mama into a bear. The remainder of the film concerns our heroine's attempts to reverse the spell and 'mend the bond turn by pride'.

This second half of the movie rather lacks variation, although smaller children may well be frightened by a 'ghost' bear considerably larger than mama. An unusual venture, though, and one lent a whiff of authentic atmosphere by the employment of largely Scottish accents.

In support of Brave is La Luna, a charming five-minute cartoon about a grandfather, father and young boy whose job it is to clear shooting stars off the face of the Moon in order to form a crescent. A delight. 7/10

David Quinlan

USA/UK 2012. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour by deluxe.
91 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 07 Aug 2012