And Pixar does it…once again. Somewhere in the deep, dark vaults at Pixar Studios there has got to be a formula, spell or elixir that does nothing but fuel the clever awesomeness that seeps out of seemingly every animated feature that they’re thrown out there (haven’t seen Cars 2 yet, can’t judge). Brave is no different. This Scotland-set fable follows a plucky, fiery-haired Princess/archer named Merida, voiced perfectly by Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire), who opts to defy long-standing tradition and compete for her own hand in courtship, after her uppity Queen of a mother determines that it’s now time for the boys to come a callin; despite Meridas desire for freedom. This leads to a Angry Mother/Daughter conflict between Princess and Queen that ends, after a series of supernatural encounters with a quirky witch, with the Queen being transformed into a massive black bear…a black bear that just happens to risk being mistaken as her kind but brutish husbands nemesis; a terribly scarred male bear, inhabited by the spirit of an old villain, that lurks in the woods near their castle. What transpires actually caught me off guard and I found the direction it took to be quite refreshing. Many of the scenes with the Queen trying to act like The Queen, only in clumsy bear form, were charming and funny, as were the characterizations of pretty much the whole cast. The voice talent, as usual, ‘stepped up’ nicely, lending a lot of entertaining nuances to the characters. Aside from Kelly Macdonald, you’ve also got the awesome Billy Connolly as the combat-loving King, Emma Thompson as the Queen, with Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson rounding things out. The animation is top notch, as is expected from Pixar and has been since Day #1. If you’re a fan of Pixars brand of adult/kid-friendly story telling, Brave should tickle your fancy quite nicely. I easily recommend.