Brave Blu Ray DVD Complete Review

Brave, Pixar's 13th studio success will release on Blu Ray & DVD on November 13, 2012 (North America) and we know you're going to really enjoy watching it again at home. As if the beautiful transfer to Blu Ray wasn't enough, the discs are packed full of extras and easter eggs that are sure to satisfy all of your Brave curiosities. This review will cover:
  • Feature film - Review of Blu Ray, DVD and Digital Copy - did not review the 3D copy.
  • Blu Ray Disc 1 & 2 Extras and Easter Eggs
  • Brief overview of the shorts - La Luna and The Legend of Mor'du.
  • Hidden items (Pixar Ball - found first by Pixar Post, Pizza Planet Truck and Monsters, Inc. Sulley reference) A113 reference is still not found at this point. - due to the length of this post, we have created a separate post referencing the hidden items in Brave - click here to view the post.
  • Stores where you can buy the Blu Ray (and list of the store exclusives).
  • Disney Movie Rewards - Points information
  • Director's Commentary Track - Because of the length of the director's audio commentary, we will post that as a separate post (will update this link when it is posted).

The Blu Ray transfer of Brave is absolutely stunning and the color and audio leaves nothing to be desired. Don't just take my word for it, the visual and audio received a 5.0 out of 5.0 at Their review said, "Thankfully, Disney's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation is just as gorgeous, bringing Merida's world to breathtaking life and, in some ways, making her somewhat humble adventure grander and more satisfying on Blu-ray than it was on the big screen." I couldn't agree more - the picture on the screen is stunning and seeing it at home with the added contrast and depth really blew me away.

One of the fine details I noticed while watching the Blu Ray - the mist coming off the fire falls was amazing

The audio was equally as well received and was noted that, "As if a masterclass video presentation wasn't enough, along comes Brave's Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround track, which is quite simply one of Disney's best lossless mixes of the year". I didn't personally review the movie with the 7.1 surround sound, but I can tell you that the 5.1 mix is stunning as well.

The DVD version of the movie looks fantastic on a standard definition TV with rich blacks and outstanding contrast. I can't speak to the audio here as I was only testing it out of the stereo speakers in the television.

The digital copy that comes with the 5-disc combo pack is also extremely convenient for those of us that want to take Brave on-the-go. The digital file comes in at 1.29 GB and looks its best on the iPhone. I tested the digital film on my desktop monitor and it looks ok with a moderate amount of pixelation - but if you're planning on watching it on your desktop or laptop with a larger screen, I'd recommend watching the Blu Ray or DVD. The movie looks stunning on the iPhone 5 because of the 5's extra wide screen ratio. If fact, if you don't zoom the movie in (by double-tapping the screen), the black bars are extremely minimal. The iPhone 4/4S looks great as well, but with larger black bars - I'd recommend zooming this in to get rid of the black bars. The digital copy also looks great on the iPad (3rd generation) as long as it's not very close to your face.

As a side note - the previews on the disc also includes a preview of Monsters University with Mike Wazowski stating, "My pony made the dean's list".  If you haven't seen this preview before, please review our previous post where you can view the four versions of the trailer that have been released.

  • Brave Old World - Discusses the teams reseach trip to Scotland and details the trip with a lot of photos and video. It digs into the group's visit to the Callanish stones (standing stones), their visit to Scottish castles (with humorous commentary about how we think of castles as this "grand thing" until you visit them and realize how small everthing is and how uncomfortable it must have been to live there). It was also great to put faces to all of the names of the artists (and their work) that can be seen in the Art of Brave book. The feature really touts the team's camaraderie and even shows the, (ahem) cozy, Wee Bunkhouse that six of the guys slept in when the main hotel was too full to house the whole team.
  • Merida & Elinor - This extra answered one of my long-standing questions of the movie. I've always wanted to know what was going through Elinor's mind when she is getting Merida ready for "The Games" and right before Elinor says, "Remember to smile" she pauses and looks at Merida for a quick moment with a concerned glance. The character developer/animator, John Chun Chiu Lee, mentioned that it was important to show that Elinor really wanted to speak to her daughter, “she wants to tell her it’s going to be OK - You may hate this now, but you’re going to thank me later...but she just can’t find the words”. That really helps answer this for me because it talks about how “together” Elinor is and that she can’t express something so "open". The rest of the extra digs into the character development of Merida (shows early hair animation tests and additional stills from Matt Nolte) and Elinor.
  • Bears - The extra shows the great Matt Nolte at work and discusses the process of not making Mum bear look like a typical cartoon bear because she’s still pulled together all the time. To add to this detail, they describe that her fur is even more smooth (like a mink would be) than a regular bear would be to highlight her "togetherness" even more (what a great little detail). The extra also discusses Mor'du and how his character name used to be "The Great Black" - but when they went to Scotland they found out that if they used local verbiage, it would translate his name to Mor’du - yup, Mor'du literally means “great black”!
  • Brawl in the Hall - Showcases some of the great acting and goofiness from director, Mark Andrews here. For aspiring animators, there are great animation tips in this extra, talking about how you have to really exaggerate the reaction of someone getting him (lots of great slow-motion stuff here). Then the extra digs into the second fight (where it’s not just fists - it’s also weapons) and shows a lot about how important it is for animaors to really “do” things before animating. It shows a lot of clips of Mark working with animators - teaching them how to fight with swords and choreographing fight sequences (Mark even choreographed the opening fight sequence with Fergus).
  • Wonder Moss - Discusses getting the real organics of Scotland on the screen and how math was able to get them there. Indigo Quilez (sets forest development) said that they decided early on that everything was going to be covered in moss and that they started with a very simple math formula (says a math genius) "v(t) = a + bt + ct(squared)". That formula covered everything in a uniform moss but to see variation in shape, thickness and color they created additional formulas - one formula for thickness, one for color, one for bending, and the list goes on and on! This not only applied to the moss though - now they have mathematical trees, flowers, and so on - using math as a brush. This was one of the most fascinating extras on the Blu Ray.
  • Magic - Talks about the magic of the environment - the world outside the castle. It was crazy to see the details that the team put into this movie - they mentioned that even in the dark scenes, they left dew drops on the grass so it would slightly sparkle in the evening light. Dainelle Feinburg talks about how the standing stones are a pivotal part of the movie and it’s “almost like a turn table of where you fate takes you”. Finally, the short discusses details on the Will-o'-the-wisps and discusses how they're really swamp gas on the moors that is ignited by static electricity and your body's current (charge) makes them move away from you as you approach them...making you think it’s baiting you to follow them. Fascinating stuff!
  • Clan Pixar - Discusses the effort of creating a film - it’s a combination of desk time, research and so much more. A big help with creativity is doing things that aren’t related to what you’re trying to accomplish states Steve shooting a bow, sword fighting, trying haggis, bag pipers walking into the dailies. And as if you didn't want to work at Pixar enough, it then showcases the Nerf wars that the staff has while running through the halls. A Pixarian also notes that, "It’s said that it’s like a big playground and that’s mostly true...but it’s for a purpose. They’re making an animated film and it should be fun, but it’s also a ton of work".
  • Once Upon a Scene - A closer look at the over the 100 deleted scenes that have been worked on multiple times, but were still cut from the movie. When discussing the many different ways that they considered starting the film, Brian Larsen mentioned that "you can paint a sunset a thousand different ways". One of the many alternate openings of the movie was a mysterious cloaked figure sneaking out of the castle - we find out that it was Merida until several minutes later (showing story board drawings). Another beginning was of hands sewing the family tapestry and another possibility was the story of Elinor explaining the history of the clan to Merida. Throughout the rest of the extra, they show alternate clips throughout the movie (great stuff). Did you know there was even an alternate storyline where Merida was interested in young MacGuffin - wow, that would have been a different film.
  • Extended Scenes - 
    • Meet the Lords - showcases areas that they trimmed up the sequence to make the scene more uniform. As a side note, I appreciate that Mark discusses the reasons why the scenes were cut after they’re shown.
    • Triplets’ distraction - Shows the entire uncut scene of the triplets making bear shadows with the chicken.
    • The Ruins - This is the scene with Mor’du and Mum bear fighting. During audience screenings, people said it was starting to get too scary so they "de-fanged" the scene a bit to make it less scary.
    • Blockade - Cut entirely from the movie - This clip shows the growing agitation of the lords before Merida and Mum bear sneak back into the castle. This clip is a mix of really early animation and scenes that were close to being completed and shows a lot more fighting between the clans. Mark mentioned that they cut the scene down because they didn’t need to have the fighting outside the castle as well as inside - the fight scene inside was enough.
  • Fergus & Mor’Du - Show another alternate opening.  Side note - I’m finally getting my payoff on wanting to see more details about the snow scenes that I’ve been talking about since my reivew of the Art of Brave book - though I will say that after watching this, I absolutely want more snow scenes - it's amazing. Mark thought the original opening of the movie would show Fergus hunting Mor’du so they could introduce the characters as well as a big action scene. They ultimately decided that they wanted to start the film with their main character of Merida. The snow scene is absolutely gorgeous with Fergus walking over the hill (can be seen in the Brave trailer). The remaining scenes are a mix of different types of animation from story borads, to basic  storyboard drawings, to full rendered scenes.  
  • Fallen Warriors - This is a collection of scenes that were cut although they were taken all the way to the end of animation. One of the most humorous was after the lords came down from the castle (naked), the original story line had them walk back to the front door of the castle and it was also locked!
  • Dirty Hairy People - Special feature talking about wanting to make sure that everyone had the dirty look that they would have for the time period. They showed that there was hair on everyone and that it wasn't in a small was everywhere. They also zoomed into Lord MacIntosh’s mouth and showed that he had really crooked, dirty teeth to help show the realism of his character. The zoom in on Lord Dingwall’s face is also really hilarious! We all know that Pixarians are truly dedicated to accuracy and this extra shows a brave employee getting mud thrown into their face by Tia Kratter to show what mud would look like dripping off of someone’s face - wow.
  • It’s in English...Sort of - This extra discusses how they used some specific words from Scottish dialect - for instance - when Merida says, “That scaffy witch gave me a gammy spell”. Scaffy means, "something unpleasant to look at, or falling apart". Where gammy means, "Useless".
  • Angus - Great research showing footage of them looking at real horses to get Angus just right. They didn’t want to make him with human emotions but still wanted to be able to tell when he was angry (through body language). There are many great animaition tests of Angus showcased in this extra.
  • The Tapestry - Shows the Pixar team slashing hand woven fabric to see what it would look like close up to make sure it was animated properly. As animators know, rich cloths are really difficult to create in the computer - so, much like the Wonder Moss program they created, they created a program that would create woven cloth utilizing billions of little fibers - to give it the proper texture.
  • Promotional Pieces - Feast Yer Eyes! Montage - It is also called Wee Bits of Animation - Many of these are the great featurettes that were released online prior to Brave opening in theaters
    • Relics - Talks about the relics that the lords were originally going to bring to The Games to talk about their clans (MacIntosh - Liar) (MacGuffin - Cauldrin), (Dingwall - rock).
    • Clan Dun Broch - This was the Cutting Class featurette - click here to watch on our YouTube channel.
    • Launch - This shows the triplets launching themselves with Merida’s bow to get tarts that Maudie put in the windowsill.
    • Flying Guts Theater -This was the Triple Play featurette - I was thrilled that this was included on the extras as this was my favorite featurette of the bunch - it was great to watch it in high definition. Click here to watch on our YouTube channel.
    • USA Trailer
    • Japan Trailer - I actually really like this version of the trailer, it has big action and suspense.
    • UK Trailer
  • Art Gallery - (This takes a while to load on your Blu Ray player - be patient, it's worth it)
    • Characters - This gallery contains 178 images and has a ton of details about the characters (for instance, Merida’s bow details). Some of the stills are very early development work and still have the original title on them, (before the title was Brave it was called The Bear and the Bow). There was also some really early work from Carter Goodrich where it says King Fergus’ name is King Edgar. There is painstaking detail in all of this art and for any future animators that want to see how the whole process comes together, these drawings are great - there is even an image of just the details of Fergus’ teeth. A lot of the drawings and other artwork can be seen in the Art of Brave book, but there is tons of additional artwork as well.
    • Color Keys - 95 art pieces - mostly pastels walking you through a high level view of the key frames (or moments) of the movie. This also shows a lot of the deleted scenes Mark referenced in the director’s commentary (for example, the Merida leaf scene and final fight scene being in thick snow). There are even images of the end scene (after the credits) where the crow is delivering the carvings merida bought.
    • Development Art - 96 art pieces - This section starts out with a very cute drawing from Emma Chapman - Brenda’s daughter. The remaining images are packed with great detail of the sets, character development, celtic snowflakes, and tons of snow scene art (I swear, the more I see of the snow scenes, the more I’m obsessed with the idea of a Pixar movie in the snow)!
    • Environments - 65 art pieces - You have to see this section, there are really cool topography maps of the world of Brave, as well as many other varying art pieces of the castle, leaves and moss.
    • Drawing - 52 art pieces - The piece that really intrigued me was called “Merida / Tree Bridge / Flag (Part B)" and it shows a charcoal horse drawing and red stroke of paint (representing her hair) on a piece linen. In the image, it’s tied near Angus and almost appears as if Merida was leaving a trail of these drawings so people could track her (not sure though). This section also has a lot of drawings that call the witch the “Wise Woman” - obviously more early references.
    • Graphics - 37 art pieces - For fans of celtic art, this is your section - there are tons of pieces showing the clan identity design elements. This section also shows a full size version of the hidden Sulley artwork that is burned into the log in the witches cottage (see HIDDEN ITEMS below).

On the Blu Ray extras disc #2, you will find two easter eggs if you follow the directions below.
  • To find the first easter egg, on the word Bonus Features, first click down and then click left - then just click Enter to view this humorous clip of people talking about director Mark Andrews. You'll learn that he's a musician (drummer and penny whistle), a sword fighter, an actor, an animator as well as a director - that's one multi-talented guy!
  • For the second easter egg, on the word Subtitles, first click down and then click right - then just click Enter to watch a clip called Wee Gaffes in which you'll see many times where the computer just doesn't want to animate properly and does it's own thing. There are funny animation bits where character's arms aren't in the right places or the character's clothes are spinning around their body.

Rather than dig into each of these shorts in detail, I will reference the other posts we've done that highlight the shorts in all their glory.
  • La Luna - Please click here to read our review of the short. If you don't want to dig into the whole short at this point, you can watch the clip below to get a sample of the brilliant short.
  • The Legend of Mor'du - As mentioned in the sneak peek last week, this story expands upon the story of the King and his four sons that Elinor tells to Merida - click here to read our coverage of this short.

Due to the length of this post, I have moved the hidden items of Brave to its own post - click here to view the Hidden Items of Brave post.


Since Brave was such a blockbuster release for Pixar, all the stores out there are trying to get you to buy Brave from them - well, we hope you find this release guide a convenient way to determine which version to buy.

Amazon - Amazon's best offer is the 5-disc ultimate collectors edition. You can read the full details in our previous write up here, or click the link below to go straight to Amazon.

Best Buy - For lunch box collectors this is the ultimate version - it comes with the same discs as the 5-disc Ultimate Collector Edition and includes the lunch box as shows.

iTunes - you can buy the HD version of the movie on iTunes for $19.99.

Target - This exclusive version includes the 3-disc version of the release and comes with the Blu Ray (Disc 1 & 2), standard DVD as well as an exclusive 32-page story book built into the DVD case.

Walmart - The exclusive set includes the same 3-disc version as the Target release, but comes with an exclusive plush Angus toy.


If you're a points collector over at Disney Movie Rewards, you'll be happy to know that if you get the 5-disc ultimate collector edition, you'll get 200 points to use on future goodies.


Due to the length of this post, I will have the the Director's Commentary Track be it's own post - once it is updated, I will add the link here.

Pixar Post - T.J.



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Pixar Post: Brave Blu Ray DVD Complete Review
Brave Blu Ray DVD Complete Review
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