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Brother Bear
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61 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

A perfect storm of artwork, story telling, and music guaranteed to rock your emotional boat.

10/10
Author: mfranc-1 from Unity, Me USA
1 September 2004

First, I want to congratulate the creative team that developed and produced Brother Bear, which is truly an audio-visual masterpiece. The use of a classic story formula to tell a deeper more meaningful story within a story is nothing short of amazing. This feature is a perfect storm of artwork, story telling, and music guaranteed to rock your emotional boat.

Second, be patient! This feature requires several viewings to understand and to catch the symmetry and depth of the story within the story. Also you must watch the wide screen version, which is the best way to understand this feature's sub-story. The surface story is for the kids, the real story is for adults of all ages, however, I would preview first before showing to the extremely young or insecure as there are some dark themes presented here. So prepare yourself first, as this feature should spark some good family discussions.

If you take this feature at face value, you get a classic coming of age story touching on just about every major theme in literature. One can also make a case for when the Inuit's first bonded with the animal world as the alternate story, both of which are well told, however some folks might consider it repetitive or boring. Unfortunately, these folks missed the whole point of the feature.

The secret and beauty of this feature is to look beyond the classic Disney story and focus on the sub-text being used and you'll discover a deeper more inspiring story framed within the classic Disney formula. In other words don't take this feature at face value. To understand the sub-story, you need to pay attention to the use of metaphors as well as the clues within the songs. That's right, the songs are strongly tied to the sub-story. To start off with, the title song 'Great Spirits', tells us 'In a world that's not always as it seems'. This is a hint that this story is not what is seems as the Inuit's, Bears, Mammoths, Moose, and Rams are really metaphors for other things. Heck, even Rutt and Tuke's "I Spy" game had nothing to do with what they were describing. Uncover the metaphor of the mammoths and you'll discover the real story of Brother Bear. Once you do, you'll find that there is not one wasted scene in this feature. Even the clips in the trailer are connected.

So what we have is a story of Kenai's journey of discovery, not only of the world around him but of himself and how he fits into it. By the end of his journey, Kenai understands what his destiny is and embraces it. In doing so, he's knows he can make a difference in this world by being able to help Koda as well as being able to help his people avoid a tragic fate. That's right, the real message of this story has direct application to today's world.

Major morals from the story:

1) We are all brothers and sisters in this world.

2) See and understand the other person's point of view (even if you don't agree with it).

3) Tolerance

4) Being responsible for your actions.

5) Forgiveness and Redemption.

6) There is no greater love than the ability to sacrifice oneself for a friend.

7) To those ruled by hate and fear: ....a) No matter who you are or how talented you may be, you will not last long in this world. ....b) It's not wise to pick a fight with bears.

As far as sequels go, it will be hard to improve on a masterpiece. But if Disney pursues one, they have their work cut out for them, as they need to remain true to the real story of Brother Bear. However, I would strongly make a case for a spin-off for Rutt and Tuke as they have serious franchise potential with their moose appeal (whoops meant mass appeal) and drawing power. You either love them or you love to hate them, eh.

That about wraps it up so I think its time for some barley and hops all covered in dew (properly aged of course).

My score: ...Surface Story (10/10) ...Real Story (10/10) Wide screen version. ...Rutt/Tuke Commentary (8/10) Trample off! It couldn't have been way better, eh! ...Soundtrack (10/10)

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39 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

An improbable gem

9/10
Author: Brett Chandler (Thunderbuck) from Whitehorse, Yukon
29 May 2004

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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37 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

An excellent film utilizing a dying art form - animation by hand is still the best.

8/10
Author: Akbar Shahzad (rapt0r_claw-1) from Karachi, Pakistan
21 December 2003

Though I think highly of the new three-dimensional computerized animated films, the traditional hand-drawn stuff just has a different charm. And whatever some people say, traditional animation is not dated. This cartoon's story is interesting, accurately based on real Inuit beliefs. Every component of it is great, and the scene where Koda discovers that Kenai is really a man is beautiful. Not going to give away the happenings behind this powerful, moving scene. The hand-drawn animation is done in the classical style, but the computer graphics are breathtaking. The waterfalls, the mountains, the Aurora Borealis... they're fantastic. The two McKenzie moose are great for comic relief. The characterization is great, and I like the Inuit priest. The brotherhood is something I can identify with perfectly - my three cousins are exactly the same. The music depends on preference. I think the opening Tina Turner song is OK, nothing special, but the Phil Collins songs are better. It's no Jungle Book, Oliver and Company or Lion King when it comes to the music department. I think Jeremy Suarez (seems familiar in the behind-the-scenes trailer) must be a pretty good actor. Koda's my favorite character in the movie. This cartoon is really great, and I'm torn between it and Finding Nemo for cartoon of the year. It's great entertainment, an interesting story told through a truly great, but dying, art form.

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35 out of 41 people found the following review useful:

2D animation is NOT dead

Author: eyelovemickey from st pete fla
3 March 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

With sweeping vistas, beautifully designed and painted panoramas, and a couple of good Phil Collins Songs thrown in for good measure, (more on the songs later) Walt Disney Pictures Brother Bear, opening Saturday takes you on an enjoyable ride from it's first drum beat till its last.

Brother Bear begins as the youngest of three Intuit brothers (Kenai) is preparing for his eagerly awaited right of passage ceremony. The story drags a bit here, but it introduces the premise that he (Kenai) is selfish, and immature, and to make his transition to manhood, he must learn to live his life with love, and all that love implies.

The story picks up and runs after the selfish Kenai is transformed into a bear by the spirits that live in the Aurora Borealis so that he may learn what life is like on the `Other side.' To become a human again, he must journey to the place where the `lights touch the earth' to meet again with the spirit of his brother Sitka, the only one that can change him back.

On this journey, he meets the comic relief of the show in the characters of Rutt and Tuke, two wayward moose that have a brilliantly overdone Canadian twang, with one liners that zip as quickly as the `eh's.' He also meets Koda, an orphaned baby bear who promises to take him to where the lights touch the earth in exchange for companionship and love. Wisely here these animals talk, but only to each other. When humans are around the usual grunts and growls prevail.

As the film heads toward the end and its surprising twist, Kenai finds that Koda is an orphan by his hand and that he can and will give up or change anything for love.

The secret to this movie is its beauty, ironically released as the Disney studio announced it is forsaking hand drawn animation in favor of total CG movies. While the success of `Nemo' and `Toy Story' can't be questioned, to give up what got you there is a shame, and in my opinion shows an amazing short sightedness.

Bear is long on beauty, fun, and terrific Phil Collins music that is sure to bring the studios another Oscar. `I'm On My Way' is out as a single (though I thought Collins' second song would be the money tune) and it's doing well. The only thing I couldn't figure out is why Tina Turner sings a song at the beginning. Turner's appeal comes from her stage presence, and having her sing this song seems a waste, (just like having Wynona sing an Elvis song over the credits in Lilo and Stitch) and really seems an intrusion on the pristine beauty at the very beginning. Turner is not a ballad singer.

Brother Bear (produced by the Disney Orlando Animation Studio, as was Lilo and Mulan) will do well for the story, the beauty, the music and the timing of the release. At my screening, the auditorium was filled with the Disney target audience, but the laughter, the `Oohs and ahhs' and the tears of happiness at the end from kids and parents alike are sure to bring joy to the producers. Last's year's November release, Treasure Planet (though panned by many) would have done well, if not for the `not-so-coincidental' release of the second Potter installment.

Brother Bear gets an A-.

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38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

One of Disney's last gasps retains most of what made the studio great.

8/10
Author: Akbar Shahzad (rapt0r_claw-1) from Karachi, Pakistan
8 August 2004

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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32 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Disney's last animated classic

9/10
Author: Lupercali from Tasmania
1 May 2004

Having (I think) seen all the Disney animated features, I would have to say that 'Brother Bear' is the finest Disney feature since 'The Fox and the Hound' - which is to say the best around 25 years. It's a shame, and a bit ironic, that this sudden return to form should happen now, after a string of 90's movies which were nearly all good, but rarely brilliant; and on the cusp of the death of the classical 'hand drawn' style of animation from the people who invented the animated feature.

At first I had misgivings. Particularly when I heard Inuit using valley girl phrases - but these reservations disappear quickly enough (as indeed, do the Inuit characters).

Briefly, 'Brother Bear' is about a young Inuit man who rejects his totem ('the Bear of Love'), and goes so far as to kill a bear which he somewhat erroneously blames for the death of his friend. He is then magically transformed into a bear, and the rest of the film... doesn't really matter at this stage: I don't want to spoil it.

There are only a few minor faults which prevent this from scoring a 10: the moose and ram characters are really pretty dispensable, but they don't take up much screen time. Koda, the bear cub, elicited a bit of an 'oh, no' response from at first, but he grows on you fast.

The animation, as you would expect, is well ahead of the field (at least in the 'classical' style). While it isn't perhaps quite as eye-popping and panoramic as 'The Lion King', I think this only goes to show that good storytelling will win out over superficial eye-candy covering a third-hand script.

The final scenes of the movie are genuinely surprising (there is a sort of stock surprise ending, followed by something I really didn't see coming), and at the same time, it's genuine lump in the throat stuff - something Disney seemed to have been a bit shy about lately with films like 'Atlantis'. They shouldn't be. They do it well.

I've enjoyed nearly all of Disney's prolific output of the past ten years, but this is the pick of the bunch, IMO. It's not perfect, but if this had been the film which Disney's animation dept had bowed out with, it would have been a fine swansong.

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28 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding

10/10
Author: Pat Gear (pgear83) from Newfoundland
23 August 2004

Disney's penultimate traditionally animated feature proved to be one of its best. The film is loosely based on the mythology of the native people of the Pacific Northwest. It has many classic mythological elements such as transformations and journeys, both physical and spiritual. It is also unique among Disney films, in having no villain (at least in a tangible sense).

The movie features great music by Phil Collins and beautiful animation. It also makes novel use of the movie screen by switching to a wider aspect ratio at a certain point in the story.

The protagonist, the Inuit Kenai, learns the value of his totem, love, when he is transformed into a bear and becomes the traveling companion of the cub, Koda. The film also features the hilarious Canadian moose, Rutt and Tuke (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) for comic relief.

I would count Brother Bear among my three favorite animated films (along with South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron). It's also great for the kids. 10/10

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25 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Great Disney Fare. Pure & Simple!

Author: paul sloan from Scotland
19 December 2003

I took my 8 year old daughter to see this and the cinema was packed full of kids. They loved it and I loved it too. It was like going back in time to seeing those old Disney movies of my youth such as the Jungle Book and The Aristocats. Brother Bear is one of those movies that is funny and moving at the same time and of an ideal length to hold the attention of a kid.Sure,the critics hated it probably because it is not as knowingly clever as Finding Nemo. Who cares? The proof of the movie's entertainment value was seeing all those kids in the cinema laughing and having fun. I do sit through an awful lot of garbage when I take my daughter to the movies. Finding something like Brother Bear makes it all worthwhile.The only negative factor was those songs by Phil Collins. Rotten is the only word to adequately describe them.If he wins an Oscar again, I will be annoyed.

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24 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

a film that will capture your heart

Author: bosscain from USA
1 November 2003

this movie was filled with disney magic,and typical disney story line. with happiness,satire and the death of a character.the wonderful "disney style" of animation makes this movie an instant classic.This movie has a special treat for real and true movie goers with a funny segment at the end of the credits,so sit back,listen to the music and you will be rewarded.

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23 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Beauty and the "Bear"

8/10
Author: EmperorNortonII from San Francisco, California
12 December 2003

"Brother Bear" is the latest Disney feature to be done in hand-drawn animation. In it, a young hunter in the Pacific Northwest of the Ice Age is transformed into a bear to look at life from another perspective. The animation is beautifully done, depicting breathtaking scenes of nature. And things like a herd of caribou or a school of salmon were eye-catching. The story is fascinating, letting you know what it's like to go from being the hunter to being the hunted. Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis make funny cameos as Rutt and Tuke, a pair of moose patterned after their "MacKenzie Brothers" characters. The vignettes during the end credits are funny as well. So, "Brother Bear" offers a good example of what 2D animation can still do.

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