Prosaic writing and herky-jerky visual transitions mar the “story” part of this movie storybook, but the tale’s only a platform for a generous array of puzzles and other distractions anyway.
Backed by plaintive Hibernian music, a thickly accented narrator sketchily recaps the struggle between warlike young princess Merida and her prim royal mother, from the archery contest with prospective suitors and the spell that temporarily turns the queen into a bear (just in time for a climactic battle with a similarly cursed ursine) to the closing reconciliation. The text is nothing but pedestrian: “The next morning, Merida showed her mother how to catch fish in a stream. For the first time in a while, they had fun together.” The text panels slide in and out of view as scenes created in the film’s lushly detailed, 3-D style pan, zoom or shift angles. Only rarely do these changes occur smoothly enough to emulate video convincingly, however, and taps rarely activate more action than a small gesture or low-volume background sounds. The app offers options for self-recording and a frustratingly ponderous autoplay—along with, more temptingly, a multilevel shooting game, six coloring pages and six jigsaw puzzles accessible through scattered links or a “Play” icon on the title screen.
Pretty, but target-audience readers expecting much in the way of plot or character development get the shaft. (iPad movie storybook app. 6-8)