It can't be said that Pixar is venturing into new territory with this year's Cars 2, because the first film was extremely generic and the sequel is shaping up to be just as uninspired. I know you're probably saying that it's Pixar and they will salvage it in some way, but I just don't think they will. So if this year is shaping up to be a massive letdown, we can take comfort in knowing that next year is bringing us two promising features, one of which is another sequel which may or may not turn out useless, Monster's Inc. 2. The other is Brave, the first fairy tale from the animation studio as well as the first film of theirs starring a female protagonist. I honestly didn't notice that until now, but up to this point it has been all male protagonists. It doesn't mean the company has been sexist in the past, but I think they just never got around to it.
Sure the whole Disney princess thing has been done time and time again, but not so much like this. For one thing, we have confirmation that Reese Witherspoon will not be playing the protagonist. Instead the Scottish tomboyish princess will be voiced by similarly Scottish Kelly MacDonald (No Country for Old Men). This is something I'm very excited about because it continues to prioritize Pixar putting suitable voices to certain characters, rather than just hiring famous actors to do the roles. The only time I can recall most assuredly in the past where Pixar put star quality over suitability to the role was assigning Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy as the two main characters in Cars. They were just preparing us for that film to disappoint.
Brenda Chapman was originally slated to direct the film, making her Pixar's first female director, but she pulled out unknown reasons. She'll still be listed as co-director, much like Jan Pinkava was credited as co-director of Ratatouille from before Brad Bird came in, but Mark Andrews will be the surrogate director bringing this film to term. Andrews directed the splendid Pixar short One Man Band, and I expect him to do a more than admirable job with Brave. Providing that Cars 2 is the fall from grace that I expect it to be, Brave could be a return to form. I still prefer its former title of The Bear and the Bow, but I'll forgive it. Pixar has released a few nice pieces of art direction for the film, and it sets the scale for a lovely feature. The previously mentioned short film One Man Band is embedded below in case you need further proof of the director's suitability to this film.