Brother Bear (2003)/Brother Bear 2 (2006) – Special Edition (Disney Blu-ray +
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
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
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:
Paths of Discovery: Making Brother Bear
Never Before Heard FISHING SONG
Songs with Original Lyrics
Sing A Long
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