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Brother Bear (2-Disc Special Edition)  Print E-mail
DVD Animation
Written by Mel Odom   
Tuesday, 30 March 2004



title:
Brother Bear


studio:
Disney DVD
MPAA rating: G
starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Jason Raize, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, D. B. Sweeney, Michael Clarke Duncan
release year: 2003
film rating: Five Stars
sound/picture: Five Stars
reviewed by: Mel Odom

When it comes to stories concerning family and nature, Walt Disney Studios has excelled for years, striding so far forward that generally the only competition they’ve had has come from their own past successes. “Brother Bear” is another shining gem from Disney. The feature delves into the interesting speculation of pre-history and the presence of generous and gentle magic.

From the very beginning of Chapter 1, “Brother Bear” possesses an otherworldly feel. The viewer knows instantly that it is a story from a long time ago. Sparks struck between flint rocks scratches through the surround sound system, putting us on top of the fire-making process. Underscored by tribal music, the story quickly pulls us in. The chapter opens up showing a taleteller who is one of the three brothers in the story. He tells of the importance of the Northern Lights, and of how they are the spirits of the tribe’s ancestors.

The thundering hoof beats of stampeding caribou fill the surround sound system and blast through the subwoofer. The relationship of three brothers is quickly laid out, and the film’s first musical cut, by Tina Turner, rips through the system, working its magic and pulling us more and more tightly into the story. The background and movements of the creature in the world are amazing. The whale breaches through the left front speaker, then slaps the water with its tail so the sound rips into the room with the audience. Later, the drum thumps through the subwoofer and the roar of the flames crawling up the totem overpowers all other noise for an instant.

Chapter 3 shows young brother Kenai’s totem to be a bear, a symbol of love that connects all living things. Kenai is definitely not happy about his totem. In order to put his handprint on the wall where all his ancestors have put theirs, he has to live according to his totem. After that, Kenai is teased unmercifully by his middle brother, while his oldest brother, Sitka, gives him some good advice.

In Chapter 4, Kenai and his brothers confront the bear that stole their fish. Kenai gets knocked over the edge of a cliff. His voice pours through the right front speaker, matching his position on the screen. During the desperate battle, filled with audio that slams through the surround sound system, Sitka chooses to split the ice to save his brothers. The cracking ice shivers through the surround sound system and the final impact thunders through the subwoofer. The bear survives the plunge into the river, but Sitka is killed.

Phil Collins’ voice leads the funeral ceremony conducted by the tribe in Chapter 5. The music is eerie and compelling through the surround sound system. In Chapter 6, Kenai chooses to go after the bear and kill it in retribution. His surviving brother fights and argues with him, but Kenai sets out anyway. The waterfall later in the chapter washes through the center and left front speakers, making us feel as though we are only a few feet from the deluge. Kenai tracks the bear down and manages to kill it, but even as he realizes that killing the animal didn’t bring his brother back, the Northern Lights reach down in Chapter 7 and change him into a bear under the guidance of his perished brother Sitka. Again, the musical score makes the magic compelling and believable. Still reeling from the change he has been through, Kenai falls from the mountain into the river and gets carried away. His remaining brother takes up Kenai’s hunt and goes after the bear, never knowing that it is Kenai.

The old shaman talks to Kenai in Chapter 8. Kenai freaks out totally. His growls carry through the wilderness and through the surround sound system. The shaman tells him that he must journey to where the lights touch the sky to take the matter up with his brother.



The confrontation with the moose is hilarious, and is also typically Disney. The thumping of the bear trap banging through the surround sound system is doubly amusing. The visual of Kenai’s problems is terrific. The intriguing sound sequence is covered in “The Making of Brother Bear,” showing how foley sound effects were used to accomplish it. At this point, Kenai also meets Koda, the little orphan bear he befriends.

In Chapter 11, Kenai manages to escape his brother. He spends the night in an ice cave with Koda. As his brother passes by, the ice cracks all around, echoing through the surround sound system. The little bear makes a deal with Kenai to take him to where the Northern Lights touch the Earth.

Chapter 12 shows that the hunt has not been given up. Koda starts singing in Chapter 13 after Kenai tells him he doesn’t want to hear any more stories. The song picks up the pace and Phil Collins steps into the driver’s seat, pushing solid gold through the speakers. Thunder hammers the subwoofer, then rain buzzes through the speakers. Kenai goes back to his old ways of riding mammoths, and the imagery is truly funny.

In Chapter 14, Koda talks about the spirits and the Northern Lights. The moose play a ridiculous game of I Spy in Chapter 15, lightening the tone after the previous night. The scene in Chapter 16 where Kenai and Koda come upon the cave where humans had once lived is reminiscent of past Disney films regarding the savage nature of Man as viewed from the animal world. The echoes of the shouting rams in Chapter 17 is well done. The rams yell from the right front speaker and the sound returns from the left front. The explosions of the lava pots in Chapter 18 reverberate through the subwoofer. Kenai and Koda continue their journey and eventually reach the bears. There are several nice touches, and the fish head hand puppets in Chapter 20 have to be seen to be believed.

Outtakes are hilarious, although they’re all made up, and provide a great few minutes of viewing. The bear myths are well done and interesting, although superficial at best. The other short features are equally interesting, providing optional viewing that the whole family can enjoy.

“Brother Bear” is another Disney film in a long line that showcases everything good about family movies. One the most outstanding things about this movie are the colors, warm and rich shades of pastels that truly bring out the rich hues of the land and the recreated prehistory. The contrast between the tribe of humans and the bear clans is warm and wonderful, showing the similarities between the two. The disc definitely needs to be an addition to the Disney collections, and is well worth an evening’s rental for family night. The movie has a distinctive look and enough color to offer repeated viewings for younger viewers.


more details
sound format:
English DTS 5.1 Digital Surround; English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, THX-Certified, including Optimizer; Spanish Language Track; French Language Track
aspect ratio(s):
1.66:1, Enhanced For 16x9 Televisions; Original Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1, Enhanced For 16x9 Televisions
special features: “Rutt & Tuke’s Commentary” Watch Along With The Hilarious Moose From The Film; Fully Animated Outtakes Exclusive To The DVD!; Deleted Scenes, Including A Funny New Character; Two Exciting Games Featuring Your Favorite Animals From The Film; All-New Song By Phil Collins, “Fishing Song”; Paths Of Discovery: The Making of “Brother Bear”; “Look Through My Eyes” Music Video Featuring Phil Collins; English Closed-Captioning
comments: email us here...
   
reference system
DVD player: Pioneer DV-C302D
receiver: RCA RT2280
main speakers: RCA RT2280
center speaker: RCA RT2280
rear speakers: RCA RT2280
subwoofer: RCA RT2280
monitor: 42-inch Toshiba









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