Despite sharing the same hairdresser as Rebekah Brooks, Pixar heroine Merida has much more in common with a Disney Princess than a Wicked Witch... albeit a Princess who has a poster of Katniss Everdeen on her bedroom wall.
Merida is as bold and fiery as her beautifully rendered hair and rallies for her independence against her overly protective mother as hard as Scotland is currently fighting for it's own.
Fed up of being prepared for an arranged marriage with one of the potential suitors from the three surrounding clans, Merida attempts to win her freedom in an archery contest but a blazing row with her mother and a chance encounter with a witch gives her a spell and a chance to change her fate. But change must come from within, yadda yadda yadda, etc, etc and the audience will have seen enough Disney film's to know where the plot is heading and it is slightly disappointing given Pixar's great history of producing such unique stories (rat becomes culinary master chef in Paris, nearly mute love story of robot meets robot, grumpy octogenarian realises dying wife's dream of travel by tying 1000 balloons to his house) that the end result feels so pedestrian.
So while the story might not be up to Pixar's usual high standards, the same cannot be said for the vocal casting and visuals in particular which are arguably the finest this animation team have ever produced.
One of Pixar's strengths has always been their talent for matching the voice to the character. Unlike studios such as Dreamworks that tend to go for "stunt casting" in getting A-List names for the posters, Pixar have found success in choosing lesser known actors such as Craig T. Nelson as Mr. Incredible or Patton Oswalt as Reme and Brave is no different.
There were rumours that Reese Witherspoon was initially approached for the role of Merida but thankfully it went to Kelly McDonald (Trainspotting, Boardwalk Empire) who gives her a steeliness thanks to her actually being made in Scotland from girders. Yes that is an Irn Bru reference but it's valid since Merida's hair is the same colour.
The rest of the cast is rounded out with fellow Scots Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson and Kevin McKidd (whose Doric tongue got a huge reaction from the Aberdeen audience where the dialect originated) with fine support from Emma Thompson (sporting an affa good accent) and Pixar lucky charm John Ratzenberger.
Having a predominantly Scottish cast helps to add to the authenticity of the film when combined with stunningly realised visuals that really show off the real beauty of the land that inspired the tale.
For what it may lack in originality, Brave makes up for in heart... Get it?
Ah whatever, if the audiences like the film more than my jokes perhaps, given Pixar's current streak for green lighting sequels, we can look forward to a cameo from Benedict Cumberbatch next time round.
image courtesy of Ethan Runt