My opinion right after watching film
My opinion of this film is that it is not horrible. The beginning and end are decent, but the film is VERY slow and boring in the middle. It also suffers from unengaging and some unlikable characters, great animation, and weird music for a soundtrack.
I could not find much info on the production of the film. What I do know is that they went to Wyoming to study western landscape, and to fortresses for inspiration as well…….but yet the film takes place in northern Camada. They also observed live fish and cubs.
Apparently, Denahi was supposed to be Kenai’s father, but that changed, and Kenai was supposed to have a bear named Grizz, but he was scrapped. The film was titled Bears in 2002 before it was changed to Brother Bear.
This is also the final traditionally animated film to be animated before the 2D area shut down in the studio (Home on the Range finished production before Brother Bear, and the latter was supposed to be released in April of 2004, but they swapped dates, pushing Brother Bear to November 2003).
So the film starts with an elderly Denahi (Jason Raize) telling his tribe the story of him and his brothers Stika (D. B. Sweeney) and Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix) when they were 3 young men (or teens), and he establishes that the youngest Kenai wanted to so bad be a man. We immediately get some insight on their world, their culture, and how they believe, which they did not do so well in Pocahontas.
So we first see Kenai being chased by a bunch of Moose (who he probably harassed), and which causes him to argue with his youngest younger brother Denahi, with Stika being the middle man. We then learn that today is Kenai`s ceremony of becoming a man, where he will be given a totem which will represent what will make him a man. Before they do that, they have to go fishing, and we get a song sung by Tina Turner (though I do not know what she has anything to do with this) called Great Spirits. It shows the three brothers having fun as they catch fish, and their interactions are very genuine
but also too 2003, if you know what I mean.
So when he gets to his totem ceremony, he gets the totem of a bear from the shaman Tanana (Josn Copeland), as he represents Love, which he does not like. Denahi teases him about it, and Kenai gets overly angry at this, and he almost fights with Denahi, before Stika separates it. Apparently bears have no feelings, emotions, don`t know what love is, and love has nothing to do with being a man; according to Kenai. Denahi is told to check the fish, which they come to realize that Kenai left the basket on the floor, and the fish is gone. So after the brothers continue to exchange in modern 2003 slang and talk, Kenai goes to get more fish.
So instead of taking responsibility for the screw up that he KNOWS about, he goes and throws a rock at the bear, which causes it to lash out at him. Because it is the bear`s fault that you willingly left the basket on the floor and screw up. SO is brothers save him, and this ends up in a fight.
So after they have a funeral for him, Kenai tells his brother that they are going after the bear to kill it, but Denahi refuses, as he feels like Kenai is to blame for Sitka`s death and not the beat. Kenai still thinks the entire thing is the bear`s fault. I think Stika`s death is the fault of Stika (he cracked the ice, knowing he would die) and Kenai (he LEFT the basket knowingly, blamed the bear for him getting caught, provoked the bear, and causing his brothers to follow him to clean up his mess). Kenai goes after it, and kills the bear
couldn`t Kenai be the one that got killed, or at least beat the fuck out of?
Now the spirits
and most of the viewing audience is mad and annoyed with Kenai, so he is suddenly turns into a bear by the spirits, so he can learn his lesson. Denahi climbs up the cliff to see the bear (Kenai; the bear looks NOTHING like Kenai) before it falls into the river.
So Kenai the bear runs into Tanana who tells him that in order to be a man and to become human again, and she tells him that the spirit of Sitka (I have been calling him Stika the entire time; shows how forgettable this movie can be at times) did this to him, and that he needs to go to the Northern Lights on a mountain to make a plea bargain with him for the crime he did, but Kenai refuses to see that he did nothing wrong.
He struggles with being a bear, and bumps into the brother mooses
our failed, stereotypically Canadian comic relief Rutt and Tuke (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), and soon bumps into a cub named Koda (Jeremy Suarez), after he is stuck in a rope. He gets out, only to find a vengeful Denahi ready to kill him, though he thinks Denahi is there to kill him. He runs into a crack of ice, where Koda follows him. Koda and Kenai somehow make a deal to go to the Northern Lights with one another, so Kenai can become a human again, and so Koda (who is so fucking annoying, almost as annoying as Kenai`s voice) can reunite with his missing mother.
We get a song sung by Phil Collins (who again did a lot of the soundtrack) called I`m On My Way, and it is a decent song, here we supposedly see Kenai and Koda grow closer, as they cover a lot of distance to get to the Northern Lights. The moose follow them. Kenai talks about Sitka to Koda
to give us some failed character redemption and Koda thanks Sitka for letting him and Kenai meet. These two then annoy me with a bunch of useless talking, and their annoying personalities and voices. as they eventually leave the moose.
So we are forced to engage in another scene of Denahi chasing Koda and Kenai, and as they walk across a log to get across the river, Denahi tries to make them fall to their death, but fails. How predictable. Koda is finally reunited with the other bears (as he argues with Kenai about bears being heinous and who will attack at anytime, but Koda tells him that the human attacked them). They make it to a group of welcoming bears that Koda knows, and Kenai tells Koda that he is leaving for good, but the other bears force Kenai to stay, as how everyone is welcome. We get another montage song called “Welcome” where Kenai and Koda have fun and belongs with the other bears. It is a pretty good song, but it is not like Kenai was unhappy, and did not belong with his tribe, so I don’t see the really big difference as to why he would be more happy with the bears than his tribe.
So the bears exchange the stories of what happened in the past year, and when it is Koda’s turn, he tells them about the experience of his mother battling the 3 humans (which only CONFIRMS that it is the scene where Sitka dies). Kenai NOW feels bad and runs off. Koda of course follows him, and Kenai finally tells Koda the truth, just as Phil Collins sings a song titled No Way Out, and we can still hear Kenai tell Koda that he killed his mother, without actually saying he killed his mother. Koda runs off to cry, and he wants to make the little boy feel better.
So Denahi becomes a human, and the first thing he does is to go to Koda. He chooses to become a bear instead of living his life as a human with his ACTUAL brother #SlapInTheFace. Denahi and Koda are in the same predicament; both have no family, are relatively young, and would have to live with a tribe of non family members, but you CHOSE TO LIVE WITH A BEAR YOU HAVE KNOWN FOR A FEW DAYS OVER A BROTHER YOU HAVE KNOWN FOR ABOUT 20 YEARS? Apparently it makes him a man and everyone is happy about it because the plot requires it to, but would NEVER happen in reality. He gets his paw on the wall on his tribe at the end of the film
Let’s get this over in a nutshell. I already said how most of them are unlikable and one dimensional, so let’s just move on with this as quickly as possible, with 10 words for the characters each.
I have to say that the animation is pretty good. It is nothing special, but the traditional animation looks really good in this film, and the CGI is not as noticeable, and actually aged well. The colors are very vibrant and eye drawing. I like how the native characters do not have fully caucasian features with just the darker skin on the characters.
I have a bit of an issue with the music. While there is a song that somewhat has the Inuit and native music in it, I also hear songs that are “typically canadian” or have nothing to do with the native feel of the movie. Some of the songs are also weirdly and wrongly placed in the movie. There is no overall theme in the soundtrack, and it is a problem.
Reception at Release
When the film was released on November 1st, 2003, it did better than many of its immediate predecessors in this era, but that still does not mean that Brother Bear was a big success in it’s box office. It made $85,336,277 domestically, and about $164,700,000 elsewhere, with a total amount of $250,383,219. It did decently on DVD.
When it came to reviews, it received mixed reviews. While some said that it had a more serious theme than its predecessors and had some heart, others criticized it for its thin and unengaging story and characters.
The film was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Picture, but lose to Finding Nemo. I have not mentioned this in the previous feature reviews, but around this time, Pixar was becoming the dominant studio for animation, as they had 5 critical and financial hits under their belt; Toy Story, A Bugs’ Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters. Inc, and Finding Nemo.
The soundtrack made it to 52 on the Billboard charts.
Well, it has been almost 11 years since it has been released, and today, not many people remember it. And the people that do remember it does not really have the nicest things to say about it. They either say it is mediocre at best, or horrible at worst. It is not THE worst film in the canon, but ti is definitely near the bottom. Disney NEVER talks about this film.
= 24.5/40 = 61%