This will not be a helpful review.
Almost everything I want to say in a review of Brave I can’t say, because I’ll give away a key element of the plot. Much of this review will only make sense after you’ve seen the film.
I thank the previews for only giving us the set up: Merida has been groomed by her mother since birth to be a princess. Her mother is about to set up Merida into an arranged marriage. This creates friction within the family, and because Merida is a princess, this has political ramifications, too.
But one day, Merida has a chance to change her fate.
I realized watching Brave one reason why Pixar’s movies have continued to lead the pack in the animated movie game. It’s not the eye candy, which Brave has in abundance (and in 3-D abundance!). A lot has been written about making Merida’s hair as lively as it looks (and it is a marvel). But other animation studios provide us with eye candy. And other animation studios match Pixar for humor.
But perhaps nobody matches what Pixar does without words. We saw this in Wall•E, and we see this again in Brave, although it’s more subtle here.
Watch what characters in Brave do when they’re not talking. There’s a lot of “not talking” here. This is a film about family members not listening to each other, after all. Pixar’s directors and animators may be without peer at conveying things with expressions and body language. Their ability to that makes this movie work.
And maybe I do have one helpful thing to say in this review. Do not leave when the credits roll; stay to the bitter end!