Brave 3D

CG animation powerhouse Pixar tackles traditional Disney fare with its latest 3D blockbuster

To say that Pixar's latest film Brave doesn't quite reach the same heights as the studio's best films is to do it a disservice. Pixar has set the bar so high with some of its earlier animations that very few films will ever measure up. So, while Brave might not be as good as, say, Toy Story or Ratatouille, it's a smart, witty and exciting tale that is streets ahead of pretty much anything that the animation house's rivals have ever cooked up.

Set in a mythic version of Scotland, the story focuses on Merida, the feisty daughter of a Highland king, who is mortified when she learns that her parents plan to marry her off to cement peace with the neighbouring clans. Refusing to do as she is asked, Merida sets out on a course of action that could ultimately rip her family apart.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Brave is that it sees Pixar moving into more traditional 'Disney Princess' territory. Of course, this being a Pixar film, the 'traditional' aspects only go so far, and the studio brings the material bang up to date, giving viewers a - sadly all-too rare - animated heroine who doesn't need the love of a good man to provide a happy ending to her story.

Picture: Stunning is the only word we can think of to sum up Brave in both its 2D and 3D guises on Blu-ray.

While director Mark Andrews may have shied away from stating which version was the preferred presentation of the film when we spoke to him (see Home Cinema Choice #214), there's no denying that the MVC 2.40:1 1080p stereoscopic version is a work of art. Nearly every shot makes great use of depth, with sequences such as Merida's arrow-firing antics in Chapter 2 playing much better in 3D than they do when seen 'flat'. Volumetric concerns, such as the roundness of faces, the textures of the rough-hewn clothing and – most impressive of all – Merida's untamed hair, aren't a problem either. This is one 3D presentation that doesn't put a foot wrong on Blu-ray.

Elsewhere the 2D AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode proves as enjoyable as you'd expect from the company that previously gave us the sensational Blu-ray imagery of Wall-E and Cars. Colours are rich and warm, blacks are rock solid, detailing is immaculate and there's not a trace of any technical issues. Fantastic.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: From the opening room-rattling roar that accompanies the pre-title bear attack, to the gentle whispers of a will-o'-the-wisp, Brave's Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix is a track of rare beauty. Frequently ferocious in its dynamic range, but brilliantly precise in its panning and placement, it'll remind you why you became a surround sound fan in the first place.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: Disney's three-disc set is crammed with bonus features. The making of the movie is covered by an enjoyable filmmakers' commentary and eight behind-the-scenes featurettes. Beyond that there's a plethora of deleted and alternate footage, a quartet of short animated vignettes, three trailers, five art galleries and a pair of new Pixar shorts - La Luna (also in 3D on the relevant platter) and The Legend of Mor'du.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: This feisty Celtic folk tale finds Pixar raising the bar for home cinema AV performance yet again

Walt Disney Home Entertainment, All-region BD, £28 Approx, On sale now