No one will ever argue that this past weekend was Pixar’s best, as Cars 2 opened with a solid but not overwhelming take and a fairly dismal critical reception. But there is a bright spot: the teaser trailer for next year’s Pixar summer film, the fairy tale Brave. The teaser is now online, and it is a small piece of beauty. Check it out below.

This looks absolutely gorgeous. I watched The Incredibles again last night — a wonderful film, and probably my favorite of Pixar’s output — but the forest/jungle scenes in that look like sketches compared to the rendering here. I’m always gobsmacked by the leap in detail and technological proficiency shown in each new Pixar film, and this footage already looks like some of the studio’s most accomplished work. Obviously we don’t yet know if the story and characters in Brave will be up to the standard of Pixar’s best, but the designs and animation here are stunning.

Last week, Brave director Mark Andrews said of the teaser trailer,

What we want to get across [with the teaser] is that this story has some darker elements… Not to frighten off our Pixar fans — we’ll still have all the comedy and the great characters. But we get a little bit more intense here.

Here’s the synopsis once more. Brave opens in June 2012.

Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Merida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Merida one day defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to set things right, Merida seeks out an eccentric old Wise Woman (Julie Walters) and is granted an ill-fated wish. Also figuring into Merida’s quest — and serving as comic relief — are the kingdom’s three lords: the enormous Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), the surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane).

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