85 Min. | Animation – Adventure – Family | December 2003
IMDB Rating: 6.7
Directors: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker
Staring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Rick Moranis
Brother Bear Review: “Brother Bear” is a good story of love, sin, understanding, forgiveness and brotherhood, as the title suggests. It’s set in Alaska in the time of the Inuit and the mammoth. Sitka, Denahi and Kenai are brothers (eldest first). After Sitka is killed by a bear, Kenai sets out to kill the bear, whilst Denahi doesn’t blame the bear. Kenai kills the “monster,” but Sitka, now a powerful spirit, turns Kenai into a bear to take the other’s place and atone for his wrongdoing. Denahi thinks the bear has killed his other brother as well, and vows to track down Kenai and kill him. Brother Bear is different from most other stories. The message is clear, the story straightforward, not muddled by subplots and separate story lines. The film tells a story that is just a fable. Fortunately, that’s all it needs to be.
The animation isn’t all that gorgeous, yet remains high quality. The bears are realistically depicted, all the animals are their true forms but for the caricature of their funniest features and habits. The forest, which is CG, is beautiful. The color and the realism of it is magnificent. But again, some of the computer effects don’t work. Brother Bear was clearly trying to aim for something like the dreamworks half-and-half pictures, with hand-drawn characters acting in photo-realistic environments and effects. The water in “Brother Bear,” in its early stages, looks nearly as bad as that in “The Jungle Book 2.” It’s flat, with a bit of shine, unlike the fast-flowing, moving torrents of other films. It just looks lame. The Cg layout looks fantastic.
The characters are funny and not at all one-dimensional. So, does “Brother Bear” live up to the classics of old? Honestly, no, it doesn’t. On the other hand, it doesn’t exactly make it impossible for them to show their faces in public again. All in all, Disney hasn’t ended a creative vacuum. But if you think about it, would Walt have approved? No. He wouldn’t have. But what matters isn’t how “Brother Bear” compares to other Disney films, but how much you enjoy it in a single viewing. Admittedly, it’s funnier than any of than many older films.