Pixar takes a turn to fairytale-telling, princess protagonist-leading animation with Brave. Set in the Scottish Highlands, fiery-headed Merida (Kelly MacDonald) is a leading lady with a twist. When the young princes of surrounding clans are charged with fighting for the lassie's hand, she defies tradition and chooses to fight for her own.
Brave teems with Scottish greats, from the cast (which includes Billy Connolly and Robbie Coltrane) to the colourful yet wonky language. Big daddy Fergus (Connolly) is gruff yet gentle, a somewhat distant figure in terms of Merida's emotional upbringing, allowing for mother Helena (Emma Thompson) to battle out an utterly honest mother-daughter relationship, the likes of which is seldom seen on screen.
What isn't new is Pixar's trademark visuals: will-o'-the-wisp and surprising transformations are complemented by a trio of terrible triplets leading the chase, marking this one of the studio's best for beauty and rambunctious action. As always, the animation and heart-filled message is, one hopes, changing the destiny of the princess fable in contemporary cinema. [Nicola Balkind]