However, now could be the time that those unwell-wishers get their dream fulfilled as Pixar delves into unknown territory for themselves, infact, it's two firsts for them - a female lead AND a human cast and story! Their UP! may have had a cantankerous old man and a wet-behind-the-ears scout, but it also had talking dogs and a weird bird to liven up the proceedings. One of the messages that both UP! and Brave share may be the same - belief in yourself and stay true to your dreams - but their latest animated feature tries in a somewhat more grounded way to get it across to its captive audience.
And captivated the audience will be as the harbingers of doom will have to wait another year to see if Pixar will fumble the ball because they've scored another home run. With their tale of a Scottish Princess who longs to change her pre-ordained life and her fate, they have, yet again, mixed that sometimes all-too-elusive mix of humour for both the children and the adults, along with absolute stunning visuals and as always, a serious tug at the heart strings at some point through the proceedings that culminates in a broad, dopey grin upon the face as the lights go up and the end credits begin to roll.
One of the strengths of Pixar has always been their dedication to the story rather than just the look of the film, famously throwing out the whole storyboard if it doesn't feel right - Ratatouille, Toy Story 2 as two of the best examples. Of course that's not to say that Pixar have never continued to push the boundaries of animation that they themselves helped create - some of the shots here are so amazingly stunning that they look lifelike/photo realistic. As the camera flies across the various Scottish glens and lakes, you'd swear you were looking at some of Jackson's New Zealand footage from Lord Of The Rings and not from a CGI'd interpretation of "Bonny Scotland."
As said though, it's the story and the characters that inhabit it that hook, line and sinker the audience right from the off. The first third of the film introduces all the characters that you will need to know and has them all take their time in the spotlight so that you can not only remember them, but you get to laugh, cringe and especially sympathise with them. This last emotion has never been truer depicted in a Pixar presentation then here with the struggle between Macdonald's Princess Merida and Thompson's Queen as they fight over clan tradition and an individuals future happiness. In one glorious sequence, Merida is shown how Princess' should behave and what they can and cannot do with such wondrous lines as "an' Princess' don nay doodle!"
Without giving away the films "didn't see that coming!" twist that propels the last two thirds of it, the bond between mother and daughter is continually fleshed out and examined along with the topics of faith in possible magic and in one self. These are explored but not at the expense of fun or the rest of the cast. The three clans that assemble to win the hand of the Princess bring the broad slapstick humour to the experience - as seen in the trailer below - whilst the three wee brothers (and their part of the twist) bring just good old fashioned smirking laughter with their antics and special brand of help.
What may come across to those who have grown up with Pixar, is that it feels that Pixar themselves have grown up abit, at least on this project. Alot of the laughs seem directed at the older members of the audience rather than the normal balance of jokes which lean towards the younger end of the spectrum - looks that only parents would understand between adult characters and hen-pecked big brutes that cower from their female better halves litter the films 101 minutes running time but the kids get to have their laughs with the brutes walking butt-naked after having to fashion their kilts into a makeshift rope ladder to escape one of the castle's towers.
Another emotional roller coaster from Lassiter & Co., Brave is indeed a brave step as they put their faith in not only a female lead but also in an all-human based story. Their faith and hard work have been rewarded as it can easily stand with its head held high in the same line up as the other greats such as Finding Nemo, WALL-E and Monsters, Inc. If you're not trying to disguise the lump in your throat or the tears running down your cheeks at the finale, then you have no business being in the crowd at a Pixar presentation. Another home run!
UK release date: 13.08.12