On a film-by-film basis, there's no reason why a studio with such an estimable canon as Pixar's cannot continue to produce A-grade output. And, despite the disappointment provided by Cars 2 last year, there's no reason why the same great quality ought not to be expected of Brave. Alas, to set aside past accomplishments, Brave is a serviceable, pleasant film, nicely designed, humorous, and most thorough in ticking every box - no simple feat, perhaps, considering that this film must simultaneously function as familial drama, animated action-adventure, child-friendly comedy and Disney princess fantasy, yet rather simpler considering the strict, and successful, formula by which many similar films have been made. Recently, Tangled met many of the same demands with much more verve, but Brave supplants verve with a calmer, more intriguing spirit, although this softer touch makes the emotional shifts in the plot that bit easier to predict. Indeed, this whole film feels, appropriately, predestined to arrive upon a predicted fate, and if the magic in such tales is often in the journey, there's unusually little originality in the storytelling to make this journey as memorable as it could have been. Still, this is no more nor less than a fable, and a fable's strengths are in its simplicity; Brave's simplicity may actually be its most attractive feature - a departure from the startling complexity of past Pixar films like The Incredibles and Up, and closer to the films of Hayao Miyazaki, an obvious influence. But, whereas the magical elements in Miyazaki's films felt delightfully superfluous, only to become integral to the story in ways wholly unconsidered at first, these elements here are too grounded in purpose and logic to have such a mind-boggling effect - they serve the narrative in conventional ways, rather than influence it in creative ways. But, of course, Brave must be considered as a film by and of its own merits, disregarding Miyazaki and Pixar in equal measure, and, while it would be dishonest of me to claim that it is a masterpiece, it functions exactly as it is intended to, and I was never less than charmed.