‘Brave’ teaches a traditional lesson with a modern character

‘Brave.’ Rated PG, 100 min. Walt Disney Motion Pictures, 2012.

The easily enjoyable “Brave” delivers a message of family connection and self-confidence left over from previous Pixar pictures, but its purposely coy trailers help make most of the plot a genuine surprise. The headstrong, bow-wielding princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald) wishes to change her fate (which involves an arranged marriage), but alters her relationship with her parents (voiced by Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson). You really don’t know what will happen next.

Without spoiling the twists that this adventurous, magic-filled tale has in store, it can at least be said that the film’s visual effects are nothing short of spectacular. The realism of Merida’s hair alone is a major digital animation achievement, and the bright forest scenery approaches photo-quality.

“Brave” is probably not the Pixar film best suited for young children, as the usual comic relief takes a back seat to heavier themes of growing up, and the movie’s tone is notably darker and at times scarier than, say, “Finding Nemo.” Still, parents might be thrilled to take their kids to see an animated movie with a decidedly feminist princess, rather than one whose goal only involves a prince.

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