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No Redheaded Stepchild: Brave Innovations Pay Off for Pixar

Brave builds on Pixar's previous accomplishments. The studio rewrote its animation software for the first time in 25 years to make this picture, providing a sumptuous feast for the eyes, along with some of the truest visual effects in animation. CGI water looks like actual water, animated fabric looks like fabric in real life. From the skin of a blueberry to a bear's fur to Merida's wild curls, objects' textures leap off the screen. Many of the wide angle landscape shots look just like live action -- the visuals left me speechless.

The voice talent in Brave exceeds any other film in the Pixar canon. The producers cast native Scottish actors like Macdonald and Connolly -- who are not big name stars -- in principal roles. Their voices along with other Scots in the cast bring authenticity to the film. Even more well-known talents like Oscar winner Thompson and Pixar stalwart John Ratzenberger inhabit their characters to near perfection.

Brave's music adds nearly as much to the film's beauty as the visuals do. Patrick Doyle's score blends Celtic instruments with more traditional film orchestration and the original songs tie in well with both the plot and the score. Scottish Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis sings two amazing songs, "Touch The Sky" and "Into The Open Air," while Mumford & Sons team with young British pop star Birdy for the soaring closing credit number "Learn Me Right."