Brother Bear Reviews
And I should know. Being a teen-aged boy when those films came out, I just wasn't interested in them. Of course, now that I'm in my 20s and am a full-fledged Disney-holic, I like the shit out of them. I have a similar relationship with "Brother Bear," tentatively one of their last traditionally-animated films to grace the big screen, but I would say that it is definitely one of the studio's weaker films. My like for the film is probably a personal thing, seeing as how I was very disappointed in it when I first saw it. I've kind of come to look past its flaws and revel in the good stuff, of which I think "Brother Bear" has a lot. Let's play a game I like to call The Good, The Bad, and the Boring.
The best thing about the film is its characters. The three brothers are well-developed and their relationship has a charming, somewhat realistic feel. When one of them dies, it's genuinely sad. In fact, the entire first act is really great, in my opinion. Koda is a saving grace of the second act, being funny and pretty damn cute. I love how there's no shoehorned-in love interest, though the sequel made sure to take care of that. Thank God for those Disney cheapquels, right? They make the originals so much better by comparison.
The action scenes are surprisingly effective, and the character animation has a lot of energy and nice detail. I like the opening number, even though it would have sounded better sung by Phil Collins. Yeah, that's right. I like Phil Collins. Deal with it. Also, I think it's trying way too hard to be "Circle of Life."
The songs are catchy, if not nearly as good as Collins's work in "Tarzan," at least admirable. I particularly like "Through My Eyes," a song that (of course) plays over the end credits instead of, I don't know, at an appropriate time in the film or something. Unfortunately, one of them is placed horribly in the film, but more on that later.
Oh, are we up to the bad yet? Ok, I'll talk about it now. After the transformation scene, which is so beautifully done that it gives me chills, the movie relies on slapstick and montages in some really unfortunate ways. As individual moments, I think they work, but structurally, they don't really work to make the plot compelling. I can forgive most of the montages, but when "No way out" or whatever that song is called starts playing over the most emotional and heartbreaking scenes in the film, it's just unforgivable. It kills the moment practically on arrival. It's the one time that actually hearing the dialogue would have made a huge difference, and could have been one of the most dramatically compelling scenes in all of Disney filmdom. But no, the scene just kind of happens, and all too quickly.
And now the biggest problem I have: they get to the salmon run way too quickly. A big part of the story, or at least you would think, is the growing relationship between the two bear characters. But instead, we get a montage, and at the end of it, they're bes fwens. Yay! It disappointed me when I was 13 and it disappoints me now. And yet, the movie still kind of works, not because anything amazing happens after it, but just because nothing overtly bad happens after. Nothing amazingly good though, mind you.
That's kind of what brings me to the boring. The entire audience knows what the big reveal is going to be immediately after we meet Koda. I can't say it kills the second act, but it definitely makes it less interesting. The moose characters aren't really funny, annoying, or much of anything. So one wonders why they are there and why we should care about them. The animation ranges in quality, but never reaches the heights of films that were coming out 5 and 10 years ago, which is kind of confusing. Ultimately, there's enough to like the film, but not enough to love it. It's over before it really starts, which make the experience underwhelming in ways that films like "The Little Mermaid," and "The Lion King," never were.
That might have been the intention of the filmmakers: to make a light and breezy kids' film that everyone will forget the moment they leave the theater. And we'll sell lots of plus bears! But this is Disney, you know? The company that redefined the animated art form, TWICE! The film should have been better, and it certainly could have been, but for what's here, I enjoy it probably more than it deserves.
|It's an 7,4 out of 10|