The sailor of legend is framed by the goddess Eris for the theft of the Book of Peace, and must travel to her realm at the end of the world to retrieve it and save the life of his childhood friend Prince Proteus.
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 closed-captions on the DVD, the narrator at the beginning and end of the film is ID'd as the character Sitka. The voice is Harold Gould and the character is actually Old 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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At the conclusion of the end credits, Koda appears to announce the standard declaration that no salmon were harmed in the making of the film. However, he is embarrased by a bear chasing a salmon behind him and signals for shooting to stop. Koda covers the lens with his paws and the picture goes black as he accidently breaks the camera while the fishing bear belches. See more »
I didn't go out of my way to see this film, as it had already been pretty much disregarded by both the critics and the public. Shame on me. BROTHER BEAR has many strengths to recommend it, and I hope it eventually finds an audience on video.
I'll admit a bias: I live in the Yukon Territory, and the story obviously takes place in next-door Alaska (with characters named "Sitka", "Kenai", and "Tanana", it's pretty obvious). Like many other Disney movies, it takes its inspiration from a traditional legend. Unlike many other Disney movies, this movie manages to remain respectful to the original legend.
The messages are wonderful. That love is an important thing for a real man to learn. That "the spirits" need to be respected. That vengeance can have a terrible price. This movie manages to do it (mostly) without resorting to daffy sidekicks and sappy tugs at the heartstrings. Yes, there's Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas revisiting their "Bob and Doug Mackenzie" roles as the two moose, but I didn't find them jarring at all. The story works.
So does the animation. This is a visually beautiful film. Yes, it's apparent to my (computer pro) eye that Disney's animation unit is making more use of computer techniques. Mostly, though, you see them used to wonderful effect, like making a realistic snowfall, or moving the point of view through a shot. The animation style is also very appropriate for the story. And as a northerner, I loved the many aurora shots; they looked spot-on.
Not everything in BROTHER BEAR worked for me, unfortunately. Phil Collins' music for TARZAN was quite good, but it mostly falls flat here (except maybe for "On My Way"). A couple of numbers come close to the embarassingly bad category.
Still, this is nowhere near enough for me to disregard this movie. I put it above THE LION KING (way above), probably a little ahead of TARZAN, and almost on the same upper-echelon with THE LITTLE MERMAID and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
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