HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Brother Bear/Brother Bear 2
HTS Overall Score:74
WARNING: THE SCORES ABOVE ARE A COMBINED SCORE FROM BOTH FILMS, THE INDIVIDUAL SCORES ARE CONTAINED BELOW IN THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS OF THE REVIEW
“Brother Bear”, the black sheep of the Disney family from the 2000 era of “forgettable” Disney releases. As with all of Disney’s second tier titles, Disney has given this a simple port of the DVD extras along with the direct to video sequel, “Brother Bear 2” and packaged it up with a nice, new Hi-Def transfer. “Brother Bear” is a rather strange film. It doesn’t hover under greatness, as with “Mulan” and “Hunchback”, but rather hovers just under being just good. Trying to delve into the Native American mythology a bit, it struggles to find its footing blending American sensibilities with Native American and ultimately ends up just “being”.
Brother Bear :3stars:
“Brother Bear” is a story about a boy who wants so desperately to become a man. Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix), a Native American boy, is coming into his manhood ceremony where he will be given his “totem”, a status symbol by which he will be defined. Kenai is a bit excited and as a result tends to be a little foolhardy and forgetful. Given the totem “bear of love” he’s a bit frustrated at not getting a more “manly” totem symbol. Coming away from his ceremony he finds that the chores he was supposed to do was botched and a bear has gotten away with their supply of fish. Recklessly chasing after the bear, Kenai ends up being cornered and his older brother Sitka (D.B. Sweeney), sacrifices his life to save his little brother. In a fit of rage, Kenai rejects his totem of love and hunts down and slaughters the bear. Unfortunately the great spirits don’t agree with Kenai’s actions and turn him into a bear until he can learn his lesson.
“Brother Bear” is one of those films that just tries too hard. Not a bad storyline or film by any means, it just struggles to gain its footing the whole time and stays just out of reach of equilibrium. The songs are seem out of place and forced, the relationships are decent, but surface level and the cute, Disney sidekicks are sorely out of place. Rick Moranis as one of the Canadian Moose brothers will garner a chuckle for us older people, but most of the humor falls very flat. There’s a few heartwarming scenes and Koda, the baby bear that Kenai gets attached too is adorable. Again, the movie is not bad by any means, but just seems to fall victim to a rushed script and poor directing
Brother Bear 2 :2.5stars:
Years later, Kenai (now voiced by Patrick Dempsey) is living as a bear with his friends and dreaming of an old flame, Nita (Mandy Moore. Nita is about to be married and the great spirits have just interfered with her wedding ceremony. It seems that as children Kenai and Nita had promised each other that they would stay together forever and that bond is still holding them captive. Nita, frustrated beyond belief that she is stuck like this, travels to Kenai’s hunting grounds in order to convince him to help her break their bond so she can get on with her life.
“Brother Bear 2” actually surprised me. Instead of being absolutely horrible, as is the case with most of the DTV sequels, “Brother Bear 2” actually holds its own. While it is definitely prey to many of the downfalls of the DTV sequels, such as a slashed budget and lower quality voice acting, It is surprisingly cute. “Brother Bear 2” tends to follow the same tired premise as a lot of these sequels and deals with the good ole “marriage and romance” dilemma, but it’s not nearly as bad a sequel as I was expecting. The kids will certainly have some fun with it.
Rated G for general audiences
Brother Bear :4stars:
Just as a word of warning, “Brother Bear” was shown theatrically with the first 25 minutes of the film being in 1.85:1 and at the 25 minute marking opening up the sides to a full 2.35:1 scope ratio after Kenai becomes a bear. Being that only an anamorphic lens could accommodate that the end result for the home theater market have to live with the film being in window boxed 1.85:1 for the first 25 minutes before opening up to full scope at the transition point. So for those of you wondering if something is wrong with your system when you pop the disc in, rest assured this is intentional.
During the first 25 minutes of window boxed fun the detail is exceptional, but the colors a bid muddy and faded. Once it switches to full 2.35:1 scope the image take a turn for the better with colors brightening dramatically and the lush water color paintings coming to life. Detail is very solid for the most part, long shots tend to be drawn with less detail, but close ups are drawn and animated quite well. Delineation is good and there is only a mild case of aliasing going on. Blacks blend nicely with the bright colors and give excellent shadow detail in the dark scenes.
Brother Bear 2 :4stars:
“Brother Bear 2” suffers from a little bit poorer animation than the original, due to the lower budget, but the transfer that Disney gave it is no less impressive than its predecessor. Colors are bright and cheerful, blacks just as inky as the first and only a mild bit of aliasing going on. Basically everything that went right with the first one was right here as well.
Brother Bear :4stars:
Keeping up with the very solid video encode is a nice 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track to supplement the experience. The first thing I noticed was that the film was rife with LFE from the get go. The thundering of Native American Drums pounded deep and heavy in the background and the sounds of Sitka falling off a waterfall made my pants shake with the vibrations. The dialogue was clean and balanced with the rest of the track and the songs made my soundstage come alive with activity. There wasn’t a wild amount of surround usage, unfortunately, but when they were used they were used well. A twig snapping over my shoulder, a song filling the back soundstage and the thundering of moose hooves all came through cleanly and clearly.
Brother Bear 2 :3.5stars:
“Brother Bear 2” is a bit more front loaded than the first film, the surrounds are used even less, but the pulsing LFE is still present in spades. Dialogue is locked and loaded in the center channel, with gentle panning moments across the front. Overall a simple and well done soundtrack with the surround usage mainly being relegated to ambient effects and the songs.
• Audio Commentary
• Paths of Discovery: The Making of "Brother Bear"
• Multi-Language Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• Art Review
• Never-Before-Heard Song: Fishing Song
• Bear Legends
• Song with Original Lyrics
• Sing-Along Song
• Music Videos
• Koda's Outtakes
• Making Noise: The Art of Foley
• Behind the Music
This Disney release is a bit of a “hit or miss” scenario story wise, but its strong audio and video scores make up the slack here. If you’re a fan of the movies then I’d definitely pick it up and give her a spin. For those of you who haven’t seen the films then I’d give it rental just to complete your Disney viewing experience. A bit on the forgettable side, it never seems to rise to the level of previous Disney films.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Rick Moranis, Michael Clarke Duncan, Patrick Dempsey, Mandy Moore
Directed by: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker, Ben Gluck
Written by: Tab Murphy, Lorne Cameron, Rich Burns
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC, 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DD 5.1, English 2.0 DD
Runtime: 85 minutes, 73 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Buy Brother Bear/Brother Bear 2 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Rent It
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