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Brave
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Surround
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • French subtitles
  • Spanish subtitles
  • 5 Discs
FEATURES
  • 2D and 3D versions of film
  • Audio commentary
  • La Luna and Legend of Mordu short films
  • Behind the scenes featurettes
  • Extended and Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Opening
  • Fallen Warriors
  • Dirty Hairy People
  • It is English... Sort Of
  • Angus
  • The Tapestry
  • Promotional Pieces
  • Art Gallery
  • Digital Copy

Brave

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Starring: Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson
2012 | 93 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $49.99 | Series: Ultimate Collector's Edition
Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Date: November 13, 2012
Review Date: November 12, 2012

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

Take a heroic journey with Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land. When Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos in the kingdom, she must harness all of her skills and resources - including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers - to undo a beastly curse before it's too late, and discover the meaning of true bravery.


PICTURE

Disney and Pixarís Brave comes to Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of about 2.39:1 on the first dual-layer disc of this five-disc set. The transfer is delivered in 1080p/24hz. This edition comes with a 3D version of the film but since I do not own a 3D television (the format gives me a migraine) this review only pertains to the 2D version of the film.

As one would expect for a transfer of a computer animated film taken directly from the digital source the image is flawless. Itís incredible how far the technology has come since Toy Story made its debut. Watching that film with my daughter a little while ago I was struck with how flat the film could look, and was especially surprised by the lack of detail and textures. Brave certainly doesnít suffer from that, as there are intricate little details in everything, from the rocks on the side of a cliff, to the textures of the stone walls in the various castles, the moss that is growing everywhere (generated using computer algorithms according to the special features,) and finally to the red mess of curly hair on the filmís protagonist. I remember being struck by the fur found on one of the characters in Monsterís, Inc., amazed at how they could get the movement, but theyíve come even further with the tight, tangled curls of the hero, which flow naturally throughout. Even the movement of the various bears, right down to the folds in the fat (also covered in the features) is striking. And all of this comes through crisply and clearly in this Blu-ray transfer, allowing you to make out every hair on Meridaís head, every knick in the castle wall, and every little detail of vegetation in the striking backgrounds.

Colours also look incredible, leaping off of the screen, and black levels are perfect. Of course, again, none of this is surprising since this is coming directly from the digital source, so all of this should have been accounted for already. But the transfer handles it beautifully, with no motion artifacts or any sign of compression noise. It looks perfect.

(This release also comes with a DVD presenting a standard definition version of the film. Compression is a little more noticeable but as an SD transfer it still delivers what details it can and still manages to carry striking colours and nice deep black levels.)

10/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The disc comes with a lot of sound tracks, but most will be primarily concerned with the English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and 5.1 surround tracks (thereís also a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a 2.0 mix.) The two TrueHD tracks are striking and incredibly clear, with plenty of creative use with the surrounds, but I have to admit nothing really struck me as truly innovative. Music swells through the speakers appropriately from front to back, and the various action scenes that do occur throughout also move cleanly through all of the speakers. A couple of fight sequences call for the virtual camera to whiz around a large room so you hear the action spin around you at points, and it does so naturally. Other various ambient effects are noticeable in exterior scenes.

Sound quality is of course exceptional, and dialogue is clear and natural. Music presents no distortion at all, and volume levels and range are excellent. Itís also mixed nicely so even when there is a lot going on in the environment it doesnít take away from any important dialogue, which always comes through clearly when necessary. Overall itís an impressive mix thatís both sharp and clean.

9/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Disney delivers quite a few special features over two of the discs (some of them are repeated on the other discs as well.) The set contains three Blu-ray discs: a dual-layer one for the 2D version of the film and a set of features, a single-layer disc for more features, and then another dual-layer disc presenting the 3D version of the film and some 3D features. It also includes a dual-layer DVD featuring the standard-definition version of the film a few features, and then another dual-layer disc presenting a digital copy of the film. Iíll go through them disc by disc.

The first disc, presenting the 2D version of the film, first has an audio commentary featuring director Mark Andrews, co-director Steve Purcell, story supervisor Brian Larsen, and Editor Nick Smith. Itís an energetic if somewhat irritating track, with Andrews (who is all over the features on this release) dominating, going over the various production history of the film and talking a lot about the designs and technology that went into it. Itís mostly interesting, though Andrews can be a little much, but the technical details still manage to prove fascinating. Still, most of the material here is covered elsewhere in the features so the commentary isnít a necessary feature to visit.

The first disc also presents two short films. First is La Luna, which I believed played with the film theatrically. Itís a cute tale about a boy learning the family trade involving clean up on the moon. We also get The Legend of Mordu, which is an animated version of the story within the film about how an arrogant prince would become the demon bear that appears. Both run around 7-mintues and are each presented in Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (there is also the option of 2.0 surround and a Descriptive Service.)

We then move on to a series of behind-the-scenes features starting with 12-and-a-half minute Brave Old World. This feature concentrates specifically on research that was done on Scotland. Members of the crew travelled there and took various pictures, video, and made sketches of the landscape. They also traveled through villages and castles, soaking up the culture as best they could. Itís an interesting feature, though it rushes through everything, which is typical of most Disney features. But the video footage and pictures make it worth looking at.

Merida & Elinor is an 8-and-half minute feature about the development of the mother and daughter and their relationship. It also looks at the physical design and the issues they ran into Merida and her hair, which was incredibly complex to render.

Bears runs over 6-minutes and concentrates on the bear design, including footage of the research that was done. It gets into detail about the movements of the bears and their expressions.

Brawl in the Hall is 5-and-a-half minutes and shows the process of creating the fight scenes in the film, getting down to the particular details in creating reactions of characters after getting hit, and even shows some of the choreography footage that was taken as the animators tried to act the fights out.

Wonder Moss is under 3-minutes and looks at the complex algorithms that went into creating the various vegetation that appears in the film, specifically the moss that grows all around. I found this to be probably the most fascinating aspect off all of these mini vignettes.

Magic looks at the various magical elements that appear in the film, and how they went about using the natural settings in creating a magical feel. It also looks at the design of the Whisps and witch that appear in the film. It runs over 7-minutes.

Clan Pixar is a roughly 5-minute segment that more or less shows a day in the life of an employee at Pixar during the making of this film. It shows them at work and then shows how they loosen up or get inspiration. Thereís even footage of when the employees got to try haggis for the first time. Interesting and amusing but not the strongest feature here.

At 8-minutes Once Upon a Scene looks at the development process of story points, scenes, and characters. We get a number of rough animations laying out possible scenarios, particularly how to introduce characters or situations. It shows a couple of alternate openings as well. I donít believe any of the material here was actually used.

Thereís also a series of extended scenes. As mentioned in features found on the second disc (and the special features of various other animated features) the animation process is so consuming that most scenes deemed unnecessary or harm the flow of the story are removed well before the actual animation begins. Here we get (mostly) finished sequences and a sampling of the various trims that were made. A complete scene is shown and then a scissor icon is displayed indicating the bits that were trimmed. Some of the trims are very minor, but you can see why they were as the trims ever so slightly speed up the scene. One scene, though, involving a trip to the ruins where Merida first meets Mordu, was trimmed down because it was deemed too frightening for children. The trims here involved some more violent imagery. A reference to Loch Ness (shown here in a rough state) was removed from this sequence simply because it was felt it would distract too much. We get four scenes running over 12-minutes, complete with introductions by director Mark Anderews.

In all we get a decent technical overview on the making of the film, and some intriguing looks at the research and design of the film, but itís all fairly standard stuff for special features and doesnít offer anything all that surprising. None of it never gets all that deep into each process they cover.

The disc then closes out with an Info icon that simply shows a disclaimer about the bonus material. There is then a simple ĒMaximizerĒ which helps you configure your home theater set up at its most basic.

This closes off the first disc and moves us on to the second single-layer disc, which surprisingly has very little on it.

Less than 3-minutes in length, Fergus & Mordu presents an alternate confrontation between the king and the demon bear out in a lonely part of the forest on a snowy day. In the introduction Andrews explains they wanted to test out a new snow algorithm but it appears it wasnít used. We only get a rough animation of the sequence.

Fallen Warriors is simply 2-minutes worth of deleted segments that were actually finished. Theyíre all quick trims and presented in a simple montage.

Dirty Hairy Men goes over the design of the characters and their surroundings, keeping in mind that they live in a very dirty world. The piece runs under 4-minutes.

Also at 4-minutes is It is EnglishÖ Sort Of, which looks at how the Scottish dialect was incorporated into the film. Itís explained that the dialogue was written ďnormallyĒ (meaning American English I can only assume) and then a consultant (a ďScotĒ) was asked to translate it. Itís actually a cute feature, presenting quick interviews with Kevin McKidd, Kelly MacDonald, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and Emma Thompson.

Angus is a 3-minute segment that looks into the design of the horse Merida rides, and is similar to the featurette on the bears in the that it shows the research that went into the design, as well as the work that went into each part of the horse.

The Tapestry, after hitting home the obvious metaphor of how said tapestry is presented in the film, focuses on the work that went into creating realistic fabrics. Participants state that with earlier films they faked the textures on a flat service, I assume with bitmaps, but this time actually rendered the fabrics right down the fine fibers to give them a more realistic look. This allowed them to zoom in and out. Itís actually rather fascinating but it unfortunately only runs 4-minutes and only offers a high level view.

After this there are various promotional pieces. There are a number of short bits that I assume appeared during commercial breaks on television, possibly one of the Disney channels. There is a segment called Feast Yer Eyes which is a 4-minute montage of animation (possibly tests) followed by a few skits called Relics, Clan Dun Brock, Launch, and Flying Cuts Theater, all running 29-seconds to 70-seconds a piece. There is then a number of theatrical trailers including the U.S. one, the U.K. one, and the Japanese one. Interestingly the U.S. and U.K. ones are similar, though the U.K. one is shorter and features the names of the voice actors. The Japanese one chooses to focus on the supernatural aspect of the film a little more.

And then finally we get an art gallery, and one of the more creative ones Iíve seen. Presenting hundreds of images ranging from focusing around Characters, Color Keys, Development Art, Environments, and Graphics, you can navigate through the various galleries, either scrolling through them or listing them as thumbnails with your remote. You can also flag some as a ďfavoriteĒ for easy retrieval later, and you can also grade them out of five stars if youíre so inclined. It took a while to load (even on my PS3) but itís a clever set-up for a gallery, and loaded with quite a bit of art.

And thatís it for the second disc. There isnít much on here so Iím unsure why they felt the need for the second disc, though itís possible the gallery took up a bit of space.

The DVD then presents the standard-definition version of the film, and includes the commentary and two short films as features. The second dual-layer DVD then includes the digital copy of the film that you can load up to a supported portable device or computer. The 3D Blu-ray disc apparently only presents La Luna in 3D.

As usual Disney covers a lot of ground in their features, but frustratingly the features take a real high-level view of the work, hurrying through everything. Some of the technology created for this film is fascinating, particularly the programs written for the rendering of the hair, grass, moss, and fabrics. I actually wouldnít have minded a more in-depth look at these areas, possibly with a look at the various stages of the process, which are otherwise only hinted at here. As it is thereís some fascinating material to be found and itís all well worth looking through.

7/10

CLOSING

Itís a striking looking film and itís amazing how far computer animation has come. The level of detail present is simply incredible and as expected Disneyís Blu-ray renders the film beautifully, without any sort of issue. Iím always frustrated by Disneyís rushed features, especially here, and do wish they would settle down and focus a bit more, at least on some of the more intriguing technological achievements. Yet despite that aspect itís a lovely looking release and comes with a high recommendation.

(As a note there is also a 3-disc version, which lacks the 3D version and the digital copy.)




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