Brother Bear is one of the better animated features from Walt Disney Studios in the company’s modern era. This unsuspectingly enjoyable feature came at a time when the company was churning out a pretty big number of pieces that were largely being panned by the press and audiences alone. Considering this, Brother Bear could not have come along at a better time. Its largely animal cast, simple story, impressive mix of hand drawn and digital animation, general lack of song cues (though there are songs peppered in), and comedy make it a wonderfully piece for the whole family. Though, it should be noted that some scenes early in the story that might be a little bit scary for much younger viewers. Despite that and what so many critics had to say of this movie, it’s a welcome return to form of sorts for Disney.
The story behind Brother Bear is simple enough for viewers of all ages to follow. It sends an obviously environmentally themed message through its story. Audiences are introduced in this story to young Native warrior Kenai (pronounced keen-eye). Kenai lives in what appears to be an unnamed corner of prehistoric era Canada. This seems to be the case being that included among the mostly animal cast are mastodons and a pair of moose (played wonderfully by veteran actor Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas). Audiences will love the comic relief provided by Moranis and Thomas. They expertly serve to alleviate the story’s more emotional moments and bring viewers back from said moments. Young Koda (Jeremy Suarez) offers his own share of funny moments, too. The story though, centers on Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix). Kenai learns a very valuable lesson about respecting Mother Nature and all of her creatures after he kills a bear that killed his brother. He killed the bear because he did not understand or know that the bear in question was only defending her child, who turns out to be Koda. Upon killing the mother bear, Kenai is then forced to live as a bear and see life from a different vantage point. It’s sort of the message of “walk a mile in my shoes.” This adds an extra element to the otherwise environmentalist plot line, and thus adds more depth to the overall presentation.
The cast and the story are both positive elements in the overall presentation of Brother Bear with their mix of emotional depth and comic relief. They together make for their own share of enjoyment in this movie. The mix of traditional hand drawn and digital animation add even more depth to the presentation. The colors are so deep and rich throughout each scene. And even the digital animation used in correlation with the more traditional hand drawn art is just as incredible when viewed on an HDTV in “cinema” setting. The difference between the hand drawn and digital animation is noticeable. However, one doesn’t overpower the other thus making each scene more fluid.
As one can already tell, there is a lot to like about Brother Bear. It impresses with its animation and with its balance of comedy and drama through a well stocked voice cast. And the story is simple enough to keep audiences engaged throughout its near ninety minute run time. There is at least one more aspect of this underappreciated movie that makes it enjoyable for audiences. That aspect is that it doesn’t follow the standard formula for so many of Disney’s musicals. There are musical numbers. But unlike so many of Disney’s musicals, this movie boasts music from the likes of Phil Collins to aid in setting the emotional tone of given scenes. That aspect mixes with the positive message of family and its other positive aspects to make Brother Bear one more movie that stands out as one of the better releases of Disney’s modern era. It is available now alongside Brother Bear 2 in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in stores and online. It can be ordered direct online via the Disney store at http://www.disneystore.com/brother-bear-blu-ray-and-dvd-combo-pack/mp/1331569/1000316/ and at the Disney DVD Home Entertainment Store at http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/brother-bear-two-movie.html.
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.