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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Animals > Action > Adventure > Fantasy > Animation > Brother Bear (2003)/Brother Bear 2 (2006) – Special Edition (Disney Blu-ray + DVD)

Brother Bear (2003)/Brother Bear 2 (2006) – Special Edition (Disney Blu-ray + DVD)


Picture: B & B-/B & B-     Sound: B & B-/B & B-     Extras: C     Film: C+/C


The best way to describe Brother Bear and its even less thrilling sequel is lackluster.  Since we as viewers like labeling the ‘Disney Eras’ as golden, silver and so forth Brother Bear I would label as the mediocre era (wood perhaps).  It lacks the ingenuity and beauty of such feature films as The Little Mermaid or Aladdin, and whereas those were instant classics, Brother Bear is sadly forgettable.  Try as it might (embodying certain Inuit mythos) Brother Bear doesn’t amount to much and falls into an era of Disney animation that left fans unfulfilled and unimpressed.


The film takes place during the Ice Age, a time when Northern Inuit people fought for survival; hunting mammoths and braving harsh winters.  The film follows Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix), a young Inuit that enjoys life too much to grow up and be a valuable, contributing member of the tribe.  Kenai has reached the point in his life to receive his totem, go through the rights of passage, and essentially become a man; something his two older brothers have already gone through.  Kenai receives his totem, which happens to be a bear; a symbol of love, much to Kenai’s chagrin.  Kenai, being his typical immature self, puts his brothers in complicated and dangerous situations; most recently an encounter with a bear that ended with his brother’s death.  Kenai sets out for revenge and to kill the bear, but through some odd magic (via the Aurora Borealis) is transformed into a bear himself.


From this point forward in the story Kenai must learn the hardships of living as a bear; embodying the ‘walk a mile in his shoes’ lesson.  It is a lesson that Pocahontas utilized years earlier in a different/much better manner.


Brother Bear for a host of reasons doesn’t work.  The animation is beautiful, but outside of that I don’t find much memorable.  The film feels disjointed as it bounces between a traditional indigenous culture and everything feeling like modern day.  Yes, this is a common style for Disney animation, but this go around feels unbalanced.  The natives profess culture and mythos, and then the next minute I hear two wise cracking moose (voiced by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomson) with Canadian Accents.  Obviously the use of these characters was a nod to their old Canadian bit, but it didn’t work here.  In the end, it isn’t a solid Disney film, nor a classic; a wonderful attempt, but far from the greatness we have come to expect from Disney.


Brother Bear 2 is more of the same as we are subjected to a nauseatingly predictable story that has Kenai (this time voiced by Patrick Dempsey) setting out a new adventure with former love Nita (voiced by Mandy Moore).  Apparently Kenai had saved Nita from drowning at some point and had given an amulet as an expression of his love.  In order to love again/marry Nita and Kenai together must burn the amulet and break the bond.  This loose, nonsensical story progresses as one would expect with Nita and Kenai rediscovering each other and love conquering all; but that certainly doesn’t make it good.  Brother Bear 2 is not as nicely animated or voiced as the original, on top of the storyline being even more ‘blah.’  Brother Bear 2 is a simple ‘direct to video’ sequel that was tacked onto this Brother Bear release, because if it wasn’t no one would ever see it released separately.


Brother Bear is ok, even if not a classic; whereas I find the sequel barely (no pun) watchable as it is meant to entertain the 0-5 year olds rather than be a solid Disney film.


If you wish to watch a wonderful film about bear transformation (really, there are a number of these) then buy Disney/Pixar’s Brave.


The technical features on this film are not the best but very nice.  Brother Bear and Brother Bear 2 are presented in a 2.35 X 1, 1080p High Definition image that boasts brilliantly vivid colors and crisp, clean image from beginning to end.  Oddly, Brother Bear starts off letter boxed and expands to its full image 20-30 minutes in; something that must have been more impressive in theaters than at home.  Both films (more so Brother Bear 2 with banding issues) have bumps along the way with image quality though they are far and few in between, even with the picture looking great they ARE NOT ‘Diamond Edition’ quality.  The sound presentations on all both films are in the same vein as the picture quality in their 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless presentations using the full sound spectrum to bring the films to life.  Not the greatest sound presentation but gets the job done smoothly without many bumps.


The Blu-ray’s quality far outweighs the DVD included.



The extras include:


Brother Bear

Audio Commentary

Deleted Scenes

Paths of Discovery: Making Brother Bear

Art Review

Never Before Heard FISHING SONG

Bear Legends

Songs with Original Lyrics

Music Video

Sing A Long

Koda’s Outtakes

Making Noise: Art of Foley


Brother Bear 2

Behind the Music – a featurette on the sequels music

Films that are worth a look, but far from the greatness that Disney has delivered in the past.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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