Well, it had to happen sometime or other. Finally the heavy hand of Disney has landed full force on Pixar and the company has lost it's soul.


As much as people love to think of Disney as the ultimate kid friendly company, the bottom line is they are the ultimate company that ultimately markets to kids [and their parents]. It is a scheme that has netted them billions and that philosophy means every department must come up with something new to market so Disney can make money... and there are definite time constraints.


For Pixar, that means their schedule for a feature length every two or three years is in the toilet... time to crank them out boys! "Up"(2009), "Toy Story 3" (2010), "Cars 2" (2011) and now "Brave". The time between the earlier [better] work was 1.5 - 2 years. So to increase production - something has got to go... right?

The animation is still tight, as is the sound, etc. But, if you noticed the stories have been whack! That was especially noticeable with "Cars 2" and now with "Brave". The narrative feels like Disney handed Directors Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell themes from old Disney products and told them to do something with it. And that's exactly how it comes across - as a rag-tag, pieced-together story.


Set in the Scottish Highlands we find Merida (voiced by Kelly MacDonald) at odds with her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Elinor is old fashioned and Merida is hip and new. Elinor had taught her to be strong... just not strong headed when it came to tradition. Especially the tradition of marriage. Because as it happens, Merida's time to getting a husband nears. .


Her father King Fergus has issued the proclamation inviting contenders to vie for his daughter's hand a practice that Merida totally is against. The competition will be archery and Merida is a fine archer herself, thanks to her father's teachings.


Her mother dresses her as a lady [in a dress that's too tight] for presenting her to the contestants and... the contestants look like a bunch of losers. They look like it and they are.

Suddenly, near the end of the competition Merida breaks free of her too-tight dress and wins her own hand - which infuriates everyone; especially mom.


To try to make good, she seks out the help of a crazy old witch to help make things clearer for Merida and her mom. So the witch turns her Elinor into a bear.


This leaves Merida to have to find a cure for the spell and undo everything that has gone wrong. Of course she will be using all the superhuman skills and brains she has developed on her journey. Uh, yes... another quest cartoon.


Meanwhile, her father hears about the bear in the kingdom nd is hell-bent to kill it since it was a bear that ripped off his leg. Of course he doesn't know that the bear is actually his wife... of course that would have been a more amusing twist. A twist the story sorely needed. Because beyond the fantastic animation and the not-really-needed 3D and the perfect voicing is just another weak quest movie.


Pixar cut it's teeth on storytelling with great animation so it is sad to see they haven't created anything original since "Up".


"Brave" is animation that lacks narrative depth; it's like Frankenstein monster - parts from other stories electronically zapped into a 3D movie - Disney style.   -- GEOFF BURTON