Kenai, a man who resents bears after a fight with one kills his older brother, is turned into a bear so he can see life from a different perspective. He is visited by the spirit of his older brother, and is told that, if he wishes to be changed back into a human, he must travel to the place where the lights touch the Earth, in other words, the Northern Lights. Fueled by hope, Kenai sets off on his long journey, and, along the way, encounters a younger bear, Koda, who is a chatterbox and a fun-loving spirit; Koda is trying to find his way back to his home, the Salmon Run, which, coincidentally, is right next to where the lights touch the Earth. Koda and Kenai team up, but are hunted by Kenai's other brother, Denahi, who fears that the bear has killed Kenai as well. Along the way, the two bears meet other friends, including two moose, some rams, and some mammoths, with whom they hitch a ride. However, Kenai discovers that he likes being a bear, and realizes that humans aren't only ... Written by
The third and final film to be fully produced at Disney's Orlando, Florida animation facility at the Walt Disney World Disney-MGM Theme Park (after Mulan (1998) and Lilo & Stitch (2002)). This studio was shut down in March 2004 in favor of computer animated features. See more »
In the opening scene, the DVD subtitles identify the narrator as Sitka, when it is actually Denahi. See more »
Denahi as an Old Man:
This is a story from long ago, when the great mammoths still roamed our lands. It's the story of my two brothers and me. When the three of us were young, we were taught that the world is full of magic. The source of this magic is the ever-changing lights that dance across the sky. The shaman woman of our village told us that these lights are the spirits of our ancestors, and that they had the power to make changes in our world. Small things become big. Winter turns to spring. One ...
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After the end credits Koda appears, telling everyone in the name of the producers that no fish was harmed for the production of this motion picture. See more »
One of Disney's last gasps retains most of what made the studio great.
Sadly, Disney Feature Animation closes down after "Home on the Range." I'm waiting for Disney's last cartoon on DVD, but the subject of this review is "Brother Bear." This is the second last traditional Disney animated feature.
"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. It 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. The film 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 (i.e. "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" and "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas"). 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. Don't get me wrong, this is a minor mishap. The Cg layout looks fantastic.
Phil Collins did the score for this! What a surprise! NOT! The soundtrack for "Tarzan" was inspirational: the soundtrack for "Brother Bear" is varying and lackluster. The opening Tina Turner number is decent at best. Collins' songs, which form the bulk of the music in the film, have stupid lyrics, although his great voice saves it from being totally painful. The best song by far was sung by a Bolivian women's chorus, written by Colins. The lyrics for this song were better than the other songs', not bothering to include idiotic rhymes since the English words are never heard. The words were translated into Inuit. When at last the grand performance is over, you whisper: "Wow."
The characters are funny and not at all one-dimensional. Of the brotherhood, Sitka, who plays such a pivotal role, is the weakest. His character is no deeper than enough to make it clear he is brave, wise and self-sacrificing. Everyone's dream big brother to beat up the bad guys. Denahi and Kenai are have much more to them. They, of course, are the typical siblings that incessantly antagonize each other, their battles being a good source of comic relief. "Brother Bear" may have fallen flat on its face without the two distinctly Canadian moose brothers (notice the number of brothers in the film) that are by far the funniest of Disney's recent creations. They get cramps from eating grass and need to do yoga before starting, and spar to practice for the rutting season. Kenai reluctantly allows a young bear cub separated from his mother. This cub is Koda. Correction: The moose are the funniest SIDEKICKS from Disney in recent times. Koda is a lead player. He's funny, exceedingly better equipped to survive than his older chum, and most importantly: extremely cute.
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. "Brother Bear" rating: 8/10
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