Disney’s Brother Bear 2 is one of the better of the crop of sequels released by Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. Unlike sequels such as Mulan II and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, Brother Bear 2 lives up to the reputation and label of a sequel. This roughly hour and five minute long movie picks up not long after the events of its predecessor. Kenai and Koda are enjoying life as bear brothers out in the wilderness. Enter Kenai’s old childhood friend Nita (Mandy Moore), and just as with other Disney romances, it leads to a very difficult choice to be made by the protagonist (I.E. Kenai). Kenai is forced to choose between life as a bear or returning to human form so that he and Nita can marry. Sure, it’s a predictable story. But the messages of love and sacrifice make up for that predictability. Add in a relatively short run time, the return of both Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis as everybody’s favorite pair of moose, musical backing from none other than Melissa Etheridge (who can easily be mistaken for Sean Lennon), and animation that is just as solid as the previous movie in this franchise, and viewers get a movie that actually stands out as one of the better sequels in Disney’s modern era.
The central plot of Brother Bear 2 has already been explained. Just as the story is simple enough for viewers of all ages to understand, so are the messages tied into the story. The most obvious message of Brother Bear 2 is the same as any romance movie. That message is that true love conquers all. Tied directly into this is that true love means true sacrifice. And a sacrifice (albeit a predictable one) is made. What that sacrifice is will be left for viewers to find out for themselves. It’s one from which parents will take more value than their children. Though, as heartwarming as the story is, the sacrifice in question will mean more to children when they get older as this movie is worth more than just a passing glance once or twice.
The messages contained in Brother Bear 2 are ones that both children and adults will value and appreciate with each viewing. Appreciation of the messages will also lead to appreciation of the movie’s central story. It’s a relatively easy story to follow. This applies to both children and their parents. And unlike Brother Bear, the story it’s just over an hour long. The run time on the new triple disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack lists this animated feature at seventy three minutes. The actual feature itself runs just over an hour. This is a good fit for younger viewers, especially considering the general attention span of the movie’s intended audience.
The story and run time of Brother Bear 2 are the most notable of this movie’s positives. Though there is more that can be said of it. Another of its positives is the musical backing of another famous musician. Melissa Etheridge explains in the movie’s behind the music feature, explaining how she came to be part of the movie and what writing and performing its songs meant to her. Her discussion of the song played in the movie’s closing minutes (that moment won’t be given away as it would be a spoiler) helps audiences to better understand the importance not just of the music, but of the moment in question. Understanding this, one can’t help but go back and watch the moment in question again, as well as other important moments throughout the movie. Watching them again (as Rutt and Tuke note in the bonus commentary from Brother Bear) gives them whole new meaning. The same applies in watching the movie for its animation.
The animation of Brother Bear 2 is just as impressive as in Brother Bear. That can especially be noted of the sequences involving the Northern Lights. One can’t tell if they were digitally created or crafted cell by cell, frame by frame. And what is believed once more to be the Northern Canadian wilderness is just as impressive as a background to the story. The detail in the snowcapped mountains and the waterfalls is beautiful. It shows yet again that digital and hand drawn animation can co-exist and really should rather than letting digital animation take over as much as it has. It would be wonderful to see not just Disney but every company that sets out to make an animated feature do what this movie and Brother Bear 2 have done. Brother Bear 2 is available now alongside Brother Bear in a brand new triple-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. It’s available in stores and online. It can’ be ordered online via the Disney Store at http://www.disneystore.com/brother-bear-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1331569/1000316/ and via the Walt Disney Home Entertainment store at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/brother-bear-two-movie.html.
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