I finally got a chance to see Brave on DVD, and I have to say it was one of the best Pixar movies I've ever seen... not just in terms of the animation, which was of course spectacular, but all the attention put into getting the story and characters just right. And what a cast of voice actors... you might recognize a few of them, but even the ones you don't are perfectly cast. It was a well-crafted movie from top to bottom... I'd put it right up there with some of my other favorites like Up and The Incredibles.
Brave is about Merida, a very headstrong princess in ancient Scotland... her mother is constantly coaching her on how to act like a proper princess, but Merida would much rather be riding her horse through the forest practicing shots with her bow and arrows. Her parents try to arrange for her to marry one of three potential suitors from rival clans, but Merida wants none of this. After fighting with her mother about it, Merida races off into the forest and finds a witch who she convinces to do a spell for her, a spell that will change her fate... it does change her fate, but not in the way she expects, and she spends the rest of the movie trying to undo the awful curse that she inadvertently puts on her mother.
Billy Connolly provides the voice for Merida's father, King Fergus... Connolly's silliness comes through at times, but the movie hardly makes her father out to be a buffoon as so many movies unfortunately do with fathers these days. You know right from the opening scene what kind of man Fergus is when he bravely defends his family from the demon bear Mor'du, losing one of his legs to the bear in the process. And the conflict between Merida and her mother is not overblown to the point of making her mother (brilliantly voiced by Emma Thompson) into a one-dimensional character... you can see both sides of it.
I also enjoyed watching the movie again with commentary from the writers and directors... it was very interesting to hear them talking about all the various story ideas they tried out before settling on the scenes that made it into the final version of the movie. I found myself really hoping these people get together again to work on something else very soon.
There was a short film included on the DVD that explained the backstory of how Mor'du became Mor'du, but all that information is in the movie anyway, so it seemed a bit unnecessary... but there was another short film included called La Luna, which was utterly adorable. La Luna has nothing at all to do with Brave, but it's still worth watching if you get a chance to see it.