Sunday, February 08, 2004

I went to watch a movie right after the mid-morning service in Galleria and though I had my mind settled on watching one of those asian flicks I opted to watch a non-serious animated film instead. I invited Lyndon to come along too since I haven't been seeing him for such a long time (pluc the fact that he lives just a short distance away from the mall). I must admit I wasn't expecting much when I watched Brother Bear thinking it's another Pocahontas-type of movie (*blech!*) but surprisingly, it's not. Of course the parts with the humans are not as entertaining as the parts where the animals talk to each other.

The story is set during the time the Ice Age was coming to an end (wonder where the gang of Manfred, Sid, and Diego were at this time?) there we find three brothers: Sitka (voiced by D.B. Sweeney), the eldest and most sane of them all; Denahi (voiced by Jason Raize), the hot tempered second brother; and, Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix), the free-spirited, self-centered youngest brother whose negligence started a chain of events that led them to hunt and kill a bear. In the process of doing so Sitka was killed defending his brothers and Kenai (who killed the bear to avenge the death of Sitka) was himself transformed into a bear by the spirit of his dead brother to teach him a lesson about curbing his impulsiveness and self-centeredness. The only way he could and would be transformed back into a human again is for him to take a journey to the place where "the lights touch the mountains" and properly apologize for his behavior. Along the way he gets to meet a cute little cub named Koda (voiced by Jeremy Suarez) who was separated from his mother. Though Kenai didn't like him he had to "suffer" the cub's company since their destination was close to each other. Koda was hoping to join the other bears and hopefully his mother at the Salmon Run next to the magic mountain. Providing the tension in the film is the relentless chase of Denahi who thinks that the bear (Kenai) killed his brother. The two bears meet an assortment of oddballs who provide most of the laughs in the film, specifically two moose brothers: Rutt (voiced by Rick Moranis) and Tuke (voiced by Dave Thomas) and two dueling mountain rams who forgot what they were fighting about (voiced by Paul Christie and Daniel Mastrogiorgio).

It's quite sad to know that Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner decided to unceremoniously close their animation studio in Florida since traditional cel animation hasn't been making much profit as it did years ago. For so long Walt Disney Pictures was known for quality animated films peppered with values and lessons about family, growing up, knowing oneself, and others. Recently it seems greedy executives have been rehashing old stories to try and come up with an excuse for merchandising. Brother Bear isn't one of those kinds of films. The story of brotherhood, respect, understanding, and thoughtful consideration of others belong to the second wave of the Golden Era for Walt Disney during the 90s. Back then when The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, etc. testified to the greatness and quality that Mr. Disney sought after. I'm not ashamed to say that this is one of the few recent Disney feature where I cried. This is the second-to-the-last 2D animation film they'll be producing so if I were you I'd get my butt of that chair and catch it on the big screen before it's too late.

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