Brave 3D (PG)

There’s a thread of old-school Disney running through this hybrid of Robin Hood and Braveheart in which a feisty Scots princess defies convention and ancient tradition to battle a mythical foe in the dark forests.

Kelly MacDonald provides the voice for flame-haired Merida who rebels against her mother, the queen (Emma Thompson) who intends marrying her off to one of the sons of the other clan chiefs to preserve a fragile truce.

Meanwhile the king (Billy Connolly) tells tales of the time he squared up to a giant bear – a beast that left him with a wooden leg. Merida’s tomboyish behaviour eventually puts her life in danger – but not before she bonds with her mother in a most unusual, magical way…

Swathed in eons-old myths and legends, Brave focuses on fate, destiny and courage. Accompanied by Patrick Doyle’s score it underlines what we think we know about those far-off days and offers suggestions as to how one individual’s actions can change the course of history.

Of course, it’s funny. In many ways Brave harks back to classic Disney tales. But it’s dark, too – possibly too dark for some kiddies, especially when the bad old bear lumbers onto the screen.

An impeccable voice cast brings Brave to life. Kelly MacDonald provides an authentic twang to every line and Billy Connolly chews up the scenery without ever being seen. A comedian who is also an effortless actor, he’s the star of this show. Other familiar tones belong to Julie Walters, playing a muddled-up witch, and Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson, playing the various clan chieftains.

Brave works best when Merida heads off on her own adventures into the bleak wilderness. She rides horses, fires arrows and climbs mountains to taste the icy freshness of waterfalls. It also offers a gentle nudge towards pagan rites, all given weight by the tale (under told) of the prince who became an evil monster.

Fans of 3D technology will lap this up but in truth the process adds little to the story and experience.


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