Disney's latest full length animated feature, Brother Bear is an original story much in the same vain as The Lion King was back in the mid 90's. The story is based on ancient tales from the Inuit tribes of Alaska where the themes of transformation of man to animal are explored. The main story focuses on a teenage boy called Kenai who is desperate to become a man and have his hand printed against the elder's wall paintings. He has two older brothers who look after him and during his coming of age ceremony he is given the totem of love as his life signal, much to the amusement of his brothers. However after a fishing trip Kenai forgets to hang the fish basket up high away from Bears and when they return the fish are gone and the bear tracks lead him to follow. However on finding the Bear disaster strikes and his eldest brother is killed. Kenai is devastated and heads out to hunt the Bear who killed his brother and when he succeeds, he finds himself being transformed into a bear by the angry spirits.
The Lion King, although hardly realistic in real world terms, used the sense of mystic powers and the circle of life to add a fascinating theme underlying the story which was believable. However Brother Bear tries very hard to build on its ancient and mystical undertones, but in my opinion this is what seems to make the movie seem just a little far fetched. The story has everything else to make it an enjoyable experience but something just seems to be missing overall and the story just doesn't quite click together. There are some light comedic moments thrown in to help when the story gets heavy, but again it just feels like these have been thrown in with no real character development. I also felt the moral undertones of the story were used to hit the viewer over the head just too much and any emotional pay off felt forced and unnatural. I enjoyed the movie and didn't even mind the Phil Collins produced score and songs, it is just the main product just doesn't quite capture the usual Disney magic.
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